Language is unique and universal, acquired and amended over time. We've compiled an abbreviated list of the ever-evolving dictionary of LGBTQIA+ terms used to help explain identity, gender, sexuality, and their varying spectrums.
Much like gender and sexuality, language is fluid and ever evolving; while the following definitions cover more commonly used LGBTQ words, acronyms, and pronouns, the list is in no way all-inclusive—we could fill an entire book (literally.) If we missed an important term, let us know! We’re learning together.
You are always free to choose to identify however makes you feel most comfortable. You don't owe anyone an explanation, and we hope to help empower you to define yourself.
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.
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.
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 / Aro
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).
adj. a curiosity toward experiencing attraction to people of the same gender/sex (similar to questioning).
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).
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.
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.”
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.
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.
An Interview with Z the Bug (he/him) @zthebug
/“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
noun a way to describe the arrangement or structure of a polyamorous relationship
adj. little or no capacity to experience romantic attraction until a strong sexual connection is formed with someone, often within a sexual relationship
adj. little or no capacity to experience sexual attraction until a strong romantic connection is formed with someone, often within a romantic relationship
noun someone who performs (hyper-) masculinity theatrically.
noun someone who performs (hyper-) femininity theatrically.
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
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)
noun the idea that there are only two genders and that every person is one of those two.
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.”
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
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.
Gender Normative / Gender Straight
adj. someone whose gender presentation, whether by nature or by choice, aligns with society’s gender-based heteronormative expectations
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)
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, questioning their gender, etc)
Gynesexual / Gynephilic
adj. being primarily sexually, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to woman, females, and/or femininity
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
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.
adj experiencing attraction solely (or primarily) to members of the opposite gender.
noun an umbrella term for a range of negative attitudes including fear, anger, intolerance, resentment, erasure, or discomfort toward LGBTQ+ community
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
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.
noun, adj women who are primarily attracted romantically, erotically, and/or emotionally to other women.
/ “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
adj, noun a person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions; often shortened to “pan”
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”
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”)
verb + adj. an individual who or time when someone is unsure about or exploring their own sexual orientation or gender identity.
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.
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.
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.
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.
adj. being primarily sexually, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to some genderqueer, transgender, transsexual, and/or non-binary people.
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.
adj. a trans person who is not “out” as trans, and is perceived/known by others as cisgender
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
T - Z
Third Gendernoun 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 recognize 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.
noun refers to surgery for the reconstruction of the chest to align with which gender the person wants to express themselves as
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).
noun the fear of, discrimination against, or hatred of trans people, the trans community, or gender ambiguity.
noun umbrella term traditionally within Indigenous communities to recognize individuals who possess qualities or fulfill roles of both feminine and masculine genders.
Gender Neutral Pronouns
You may have recently heard of the pronouns “they,” “ze,” “xe,” or “hir” and thought to yourself, what in the world is “ze?” Ze, hir, xe, and the singular they are gender-neutral pronouns that initially arose out of the necessity for pronouns that were more inclusive of women, and later to be more inclusive of a wide spectrum of genders. Trans and nonbinary people like myself sought out these pronouns or created new ones because we felt he or she weren’t suitable for our needs or identity. Gender-neutral pronouns don’t assume a gender for the person or persons being discussed. They can be used to refer to anyone in conversation. More importantly, they can be validating for anyone who lives beyond the binary.
While gender-neutral pronouns have risen in popularity over the last few years, the trans and nonbinary communities have embraced and advocated for their use since the late 20th century. But their existence, and debates around their necessity, have long predated public advocacy from trans communities. Gender-neutral pronouns have been coined and discussed publicly for centuries.
Exerpt & graphic provided by @them
Common LGBTQ Acronyms
assigned male at birth
assigned female at birth
designated sex at birth
diverse sexualities and genders
FtM / F2M
female-to-male transgender or transsexual person
MtF / M2F
male-to-female transgender or transsexual person
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.
gender and sexual minorities
shorthand or umbrella terms for all folks who have a non-normative (or queer) gender or sexuality; there are many different initialisms people prefer
Lesbian, Gay and/or Genderqueer, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Asexuel and/or Allied
Men (who) love men (i.e.men who have sex with men)
women who love women (i.e 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.
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.
queer people of color
queer and/or trans people of color
same gender loving
sex assigned at birth; a phrase used to intentionally recognize a person’s assigned sex (not gender identity)
sex coercively assigned at birth
Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming
Did we miss any definitions? Could something be better explained? Message us or comment below!
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