The ABC's of LGBTQIA

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Language is unique and universal, acquired and amended over time. Learn more about the ever-evolving dictionary of LGBTQIA+ terms used to help explain identity, gender, sexuality, and their varying spectrums.

The following explanations are in no way all-inclusive and people are always free to choose to identify how they feel most comfortable. If we missed a term, let us know! We’re learning together.  

LGBTQIA+ Terms

Advocate

noun a person who actively works to end intolerance, educate others, and support social equity for a marginalized group. 

verb to actively support or plea in favor of a particular cause, the action of working to end intolerance or educate others.

Agender (gender neutral, genderless)

adj. a person with no (or very little) connection to the traditional system of gender, no personal alignment with the concepts of either man or woman, and/or someone who sees themselves as existing without gender. Sometimes called gender neutrois, gender neutral, or genderless.

Ally

noun a (typically straight and/or cisgender) person who supports and respects members of the LGBTQ community. We consider people to be active allies who take action on in support and respect.

Androgyny

noun a gender expression that has elements of both masculinity and femininity

adj. occasionally used in place of “intersex” to describe a person with both female and male anatomy, generally in the form “androgyne.”

Androsexual / Androphilic

adj. being primarily sexually, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to men, males, and/or masculinity

Aromantic

adj. experiencing little or no romantic attraction to others and/or has a lack of interest in romantic relationships/behavior. Aromanticism exists on a continuum from people who experience no romantic attraction or have any desire for romantic activities, to those who experience low levels, or romantic attraction only under specific conditions. Many of these different places on the continuum have their own identity labels (see demiromantic). Sometimes abbreviated to “aro” (pronounced like “arrow”).

Asexual Ace

adj. experiencing little or no sexual attraction to others and/or a lack of interest in sexual relationships/behavior. Asexuality exists on a continuum from people who experience no sexual attraction or have any desire for sex, to those who experience low levels, or sexual attraction only under specific conditions. Many of these different places on the continuum have their own identity labels (see demisexual).

Z THE BUG (HE/HIM) @ZTHEBUG
Bicurious

adj.  a curiosity toward experiencing attraction to people of the same gender/sex (similar to questioning).

Bigender

adj.  a person who fluctuates between traditionally “woman” and “man” gender-based behavior and identities, identifying with two genders (or sometimes identifying with either man or woman, as well as a third, different gender).

Binder

noun an undergarment used to alter or reduce the appearance of one’s breasts (worn similarly to how one wears a sports bra). binding – verb : the (sometimes daily) process of wearing a binder. Binding is often used to change the way other’s read/perceive one’s anatomical sex characteristics, and/or as a form of gender expression.

Bilogical sex

noun a medical term used to refer to the chromosomal, hormonal and anatomical characteristics that are used to classify an individual as female or male or intersex. Often referred to as simply “sex,” “physical sex,” “anatomical sex,” or specifically as “sex assigned at birth.”

Biphobia

noun a range of negative attitudes (e.g., fear, anger, intolerance, invisibility, resentment, erasure, or discomfort) that one may have or express toward bisexual individuals. Biphobia can come from and be seen within the LGBTQ community as well as straight society. biphobic – adj. : a word used to describe actions, behaviors, or individuals who demonstrate elements of this range of negative attitudes toward bisexual people.

Bisexual

noun + adj. a person who experiences attraction to some people of their gender and another gender. Bisexual attraction does not have to be equally split, or indicate a level of interest that is the same across the genders an individual may be attracted to.

JARI JONES (SHE/HER) @IAMJARIJONES + COREY DANIELLA KEMPSTER (SHE/HER) @COREYMEETSWORLD 
Cisgender Cis

/“siss-jendur”/  adj. a gender description for when someone’s sex assigned at birth and gender identity correspond in the expected way. A simple way to think about it is if a person is not transgender, they are cisgender. 

Cisnonconformity

noun the assumption, in individuals and in institutions, that everyone is cisgender, and that cisgender identities are superior to trans* identities and people. Leads to invisibility of non-cisgender identities.

Cissexism

noun behavior that grants preferential treatment to cisgender people, reinforces the idea that being cisgender is somehow better or more “right” than being transgender, and/or makes other genders invisible.

Closeted

adj. an individual who is not open to themselves or others about their (queer) sexuality or gender identity. This may be by choice and/or for other reasons such as fear for one’s safety, peer or family rejection, or disapproval and/or loss of housing, job, etc. 

Coming out

noun the process by which one accepts and/or comes to identify one’s own sexuality or gender identity (to “come out” to oneself). 

verb  the process by which one shares one’s sexuality or gender identity with others.

Constellation

noun a way to describe the arrangement or structure of a polyamorous relationship

Demiromantic

adj. little or no capacity to experience romantic attraction until a strong sexual connection is formed with someone, often within a sexual relationship

Demisexual

adj. little or no capacity to experience sexual attraction until a strong romantic connection is formed with someone, often within a romantic relationship

Drag king

noun someone who performs (hyper-) masculinity theatrically.

Drag Queen

noun someone who performs (hyper-) femininity theatrically.

Dyke

noun referring to a masculine presenting lesbian. While often used derogatorily, it is also reclaimed affirmatively by some lesbians and gay womxn as a positive self identity term

Emotional attraction

noun a capacity that evokes the want to engage in emotionally intimate behavior (e.g., sharing, confiding, trusting, inter-depending), experienced in varying degrees (from little-to-none to intense). Often conflated with sexual attraction, romantic attraction, and/or spiritual attraction.

COREY DANIELLA KEMPSTER (SHE/HER) @COREYMEETSWORLD
Feminine-of-center; masculine-of-center

adj. a phrase that indicates a range of one's gender identity and expression for people who present, understand themselves, and/or relate to others in a generally more feminine/masculine way, but don’t necessarily identify as women or men. 

feminine-presenting; masculine-presenting

adj. a way to describe someone who expresses gender in a more feminine/masculine way. Often confused with feminine-of-center/masculine-of-center, which generally include a focus on identity as well as expression.

femme

noun & adj. someone who identifies themselves as feminine, whether it be physically, mentally or emotionally; often used to refer to a feminine-presenting queer woman or people.

fluid(ity)

adj. generally with another term attached, like gender-fluid or fluid-sexuality, fluid(ity) describes an identity that may change or shift over time between or within the mix of the options available (e.g., man and woman, bi and straight).

Gay

adj. experiencing attraction solely (or primarily) to some members of the same gender. Can be used to refer to men who are attracted to other men and women who are attracted to women. 2 adj. : an umbrella term used to refer to the queer community as a whole, or as an individual identity label for anyone who is not straight (see LGBTQ and queer)

gender binary

noun the idea that there are only two genders and that every person is one of those two.

gender expression

noun the external display of one’s gender, through a combination of clothing, grooming, demeanor, social behavior, and other factors, generally made sense of on scales of masculinity and femininity. Also referred to as “gender presentation.”

gender fluid

adj. a gender identity best described as a dynamic mix of boy and girl. A person who is gender fluid may always feel like a mix of the two traditional genders, but may feel more man/masculine some days, and more woman/feminine other days

gender identity

noun : the internal perception of an one’s gender, and how they label themselves, based on how much they align or don’t align with what they understand their options for gender to be. Often conflated with biological sex, or sex assigned at birth.

MOLLY MARGARET JOHNSON (SHE/HER) @WHATSWRONGWITHMOLLYMARGARET
gender normative / gender straight

adj. someone whose gender presentation, whether by nature or by choice, aligns with society’s gender-based heteronormative expectations

genderqueer

adj. a gender identity label often used by people who do not identify with the binary of man/woman. 

adj. an umbrella term for many gender non-conforming or non-binary identities (e.g., agender, bigender, genderfluid)

gender variant

Noun someone who either by nature or by choice does not conform to gender-based expectations of society (e.g. transgender, transsexual, intersex, genderqueer, cross-dresser, etc)

gynesexual / gynephilic

adj. being primarily sexually, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to woman, females, and/or femininity

heteronormativity

noun: the assumption, in individuals and/or in institutions, that everyone is heterosexual and that heterosexuality is superior to all other sexualities, which often leads to invisibility and stigmatizing of other sexualities

heterosexism

noun behavior that grants preferential treatment to heterosexual people, reinforcing the idea that heterosexuality is somehow better or more “right” than queerness, and/or makes other sexualities invisible.

heterosexual (straight)

adj experiencing attraction solely (or primarily) to members of the opposite gender.

Homophobia

noun an umbrella term for a range of negative attitudes including fear, anger, intolerance, resentment, erasure, or discomfort toward LGBTQ+ community 

Homosexual

adj + noun a person primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to members of the same sex/gender. This [outdated medical] term is considered stigmatizing (particularly as a noun) due to its history as a category of mental illness, and is now discouraged—use gay or lesbian instead!

JARI JONES (SHE/HER) @IAMJARIJONES
intersex

adj. term for a combination of chromosomes, gonads, hormones, internal sex organs, and genitals that differs from the two expected patterns of male or female. 

lesbian

noun,  adj  women who are primarily attracted romantically, erotically, and/or emotionally to other women.

Mx.

/ “mix” or “schwa” /noun a gender-neutral honorific (e.g. Mr., Ms., Mrs., etc.); it is often the option of choice for folks who do not identify within the gender binary

pansexual

adj, noun a person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions; often shortened to “pan”

passing

verb trans people being accepted as, or able to “pass” as a member of their self-identified gender identity (regardless of sex assigned at birth) without being identified as trans

adj. an LGB/queer individual who is believed to be or perceived as straight

polyamory / polyamorous

noun refers to the practice of, desire for, or orientation toward having ethical, honest, and consensual non-monogamous relationships (i.e. relationships that may include multiple partners); often shortened to “poly”

queer

adj. an umbrella term to describe individuals who don’t identify as straight and/or cisgender; can often be use interchangeably with LGBTQ+ (e.g., “queer community” instead of “LGBTQ+ community”)

questioning

verb + adj. an individual who or time when someone is unsure about or exploring their own sexual orientation or gender identity.

KEVIN (HE/HIM)
romantic attraction

noun a capacity that evokes the want to engage in romantic intimate behavior (e.g., dating, relationships, marriage), experienced in varying degrees (from little-to-none, to intense). Often conflated with sexual attraction, emotional attraction, and/or spiritual attraction.

sexual attraction

noun a capacity that evokes the want to engage in physically intimate behavior (e.g., kissing, touching, intercourse), experienced in varying degrees (from little-to-none, to intense). Often conflated with romantic attraction, emotional attraction, and/or spiritual attraction.

sexual orientation

noun  the type of sexual, romantic, emotional/spiritual attraction one has the capacity to feel for some others, generally labeled based on the gender relationship between the person and the people they are attracted to. Often confused with sexual preference.

sexual preference

noun  the types of sexual intercourse, stimulation, and gratification one likes to receive and participate in. Generally when this term is used, it is being mistakenly interchanged with “sexual orientation,” creating an illusion that one has a choice (or “preference”) in who they are attracted to.

sex reassignment surgery (SRS)

noun  used by some medical professionals to refer to a group of surgical options that alter a person’s biological sex. “Gender confirmation surgery” is considered by many to be a more affirming term. In most cases, one or multiple surgeries are required to achieve legal recognition of gender variance. Some refer to different surgical procedures as “top” surgery and “bottom” surgery to discuss what type of surgery they are having without having to be more explicit.

skoliosexual

adj. being primarily sexually, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to some genderqueer, transgender, transsexual, and/or non-binary people.

spiritual attraction

noun Spiritual attraction is often conflated with sexual attraction, romantic attraction, and/or emotional attraction, but it is actually the capacity to evoke the desire to engage in intimate behavior based on one’s experience with, interpretation of, or belief in the supernatural (e.g., religious teachings, messages from a deity), experienced in varying degrees.

stealth

adj. a trans person who is not “out” as trans, and is perceived/known by others as cisgender

straight

adj. a person primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to some people who are not their same sex/gender. A more colloquial term for the word heterosexual.

NICOLE SGARLATO (SHE/HER) @NICOLESGARLATO
third gender

noun used for a person who does not identify with either man or woman, but identifies with another gender. This gender category is used by societies that recognise three or more genders, both contemporary and historic, and is also a conceptual term meaning different things to different people who use it, as a way to move beyond the gender binary.

top surgery

noun refers to surgery for the reconstruction of the chest to align with which gender the person wants to present as 

trans*

adj. an umbrella term covering a range of identities that transgress socially-defined heteronormative gender norms. Trans with an asterisk is often used in written forms (not spoken) to indicate that you are referring to the larger group nature of the term, and specifically including non-binary identities, as well as transgender men (transmen) and transgender women (transwomen).

adj. a gender description for someone who has transitioned (or is transitioning) from living as one gender to another 

adj. an umbrella term for anyone whose sex assigned at birth and gender identity do not correspond in a heteronormative way 

transition / transitioning

noun + verb  referring to the process of a transgender person changing aspects of themself (e.g., their appearance, name, pronouns, or making physical changes to their body) to be more congruent with the gender they know themself to be (as opposed to the gender they lived as pre-transitioning).

transphobia

noun  the fear of, discrimination against, or hatred of trans people, the trans community, or gender ambiguity. 

two-spirit

noun umbrella term traditionally within Native American communities to recognize individuals who possess qualities or fulfill roles of both feminine and masculine genders.

 DORI (SHE/HER) + RICH (HE/HIM)

PRONOUNS

Alternate pronouns that are gender neutral and preferred by some trans* or non-gender conforming people. They replace “he” and “she” and “his” and “hers” respectively. Those who are not comfortable or do not embrace the he/she gender dichotomy use the plural pronoun “they/their” as a gender neutral singular pronoun. 

  

ABBREVIATIONS

AMAB assigned male at birth 

AFAB assigned female at birth
DSAB designated sex at birth
DSG diverse sexualities and genders
FtM / F2M / MtF / M2F

female-to-male transgender or transsexual person; male-to-female transgender or transsexual person

GNC gender non-conforming

a gender expression descriptor that indicates a non-traditional gender presentation (masculine woman or feminine man); a gender identity label that indicates a person who identifies outside of the gender binary. 

GSM gender and sexual minorities
LGBTQ

shorthand or umbrella terms for all folks who have a non-normative (or queer) gender or sexuality; there are many different initialisms people prefer 

LGBTQUIA+

Lesbian, Gay and/or Genderqueer, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Asexuel and/or Allied

 Tagé Anandi (She/her) @highvol_tage
MSM* men who have sex with men  
WSW* women who have sex with women 

*These are used to distinguish sexual behaviors from sexual identities. Just because a man is straight, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have sex with men. These terms are often used in the field of HIV/Aids education, prevention, and treatment.

ENBY non-binary 
PGP* preferred gender pronouns

*Often used during introductions, becoming more common as a standard practice. Many suggest removing the “preferred,” because it insinuates flexibility and/or the power for the speaker to decide which pronouns to use for someone else. 

QPOC  queer people of color
QTPOC queer and/or trans people of color
SGL same gender loving
SAAB sex assigned at birth 

a phrase used to intentionally recognize a person’s assigned sex (not gender identity)

SCAB sex coercively assigned at birth
TGNC Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming

 

CONTINUE READING

Are you there God, It's Molly-Margaret interview with Molly-Margaret Johnson (she/her) @whatswrongwithmollymargaret

Meet the Photographer Celebrating Trans Existance as a Space in Constant Flux
Interview with Laurence Philomene (they/them) @laurence.philomene

LGBTQIA + Z the Bug Interview with Z Walsh, model (he/him) @zthebug

A Different Kind of Pride by Casey Tanner (she/her) @queersextherapy

The Radical Love + Laughter of Jari + Corey Profile on Jari Jones (she/her) + Corey Daniella Kempster (she/her) by Jen Winston (she/her) @girlpowersupply

Redefining Activism by Kénta Xiadani Ch'umil (they/them) @kenta.chumil

Tips for Allies 


Did we miss something? Could something be better explained? Message us or comment below!

 

 

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