Glossary and definition of terms relating to LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual (and people not listed in these letters)).

Affirmed gender: The gender by which one wishes to be known.

Agender: Refers to a person who does not identify with any gender.

Ally: A term used to describe someone who is supportive of LGBTQIA+ individuals and the community, either personally or as an advocate.

Amatonormativity: The belief that romantic relationships are superior to non-romantic ones and friendships.[3]

Androgyne: An androgynous person.

Androgynous: Typically used to describe a person’s appearances or clothing as having elements of both femininity and masculinity.

Androsexual: sexual orientation of anyone who has sexual feelings towards a man

Aromantic: A person who does not experience romantic attraction. Also referred to as Aro for short.

Asexual Spectrum: This refers to an entire spectrum of sexual orientations where people do not experience sexual attraction or feelings the way the rest of the population does. Sexual attraction is a continuum ranging on one end being people who experience sexual attractions/desires which can include any or all people who fit their sexual orientation (referred to as Sexual, or Allosexual) and on the other end are people who do not experience any sexual attractions or desire toward other people. An Asexual person, also known as an Ace or A, is a person who does not experience sexual desire or attraction toward other people. This is not the same as celibacy, as that's a choice to not act on desires a person has, while an Ace person does not experience such desires. Originally Asexuality was seen as only referring to people who are total Ace, but now the term has evolved to be a spectrum including people who do experience some sexual desires/attractions, but do not experience them the way the rest of the general population is expected to. Gray (also known as Gray Ace or Gray A) refers to people who are on the gray area between Sexual and Asexual, and who sometimes experience sexual feelings and/or attractions. Lithosexual refers to people who experience sexual attraction but do not want their feelings to be reciprocated. Sapiosexual refers to people who are only attracted to people they consider highly intelligent. Demisexuals are only experience sexual attraction toward people with whom there is a strong emotional connection. Autosexual refers to a person who only experiences sexual attraction to themselves, and autochorisexual refers to a person who can be aroused by sexual material and may masturbate, fantasize and/or watch porn but has no desire to seek a partner or have sexual interactions themselves.

Assigned sex: The sex that is assigned to an infant at birth based on the child’s visible sex organs, including genitalia and other physical characteristics.

Assigned gender: The gender that is assigned to an infant at birth which is meant to correspond to the child’s assigned sex.

Assumed gender: The gender others assume an individual to be based on the sex they are assigned at birth, as well as apparent gender markers such as physical build, voice, clothes, and hair.

Bigender: having a gender identity or expression which is both male and female, either simultaneously or alternating.

Biological sex: Refers to anatomical, physiological, genetic, or physical attributes that determine if a person is male, female, or intersex. These include genitalia, gonads, hormone levels, hormone receptors, chromosomes, genes, and secondary sex characteristics. Sex is often confused or interchanged with gender, which involves personal identity and social factors, and is not determined by biological sex.

Bisexual: Refers to an individual who has the capacity for attraction—sexually, romantically, emotionally, or otherwise—to people with the same, and to people with a different, gender and/or gender identity as themselves. People who identify as bisexual need not have had equal experience- or equal levels of attraction- with people across genders, nor any experience at all: it is merely attraction and self-identification that determine orientation. Bisexuality, as it is frequently used today, can act as an umbrella term that encapsulates many identities such as pansexual. Sometimes referred to as bi or bi+.

Bodily Self-Determination: The idea that a person has the right to make their own body, including when it comes to their sexual and reproductive systems. People have the right to make consensual medical decisions based on fully informed consent as to what happens to their bodies.

Butch: Gender expression and presentation which is very typically associated with masculinity.

Chimera: The word Chimera refers to when twins, triplets or other numbers of multiples merge in the womb, resulting in the birth of a composite person whose body is made of multiples merged into one. The person is a chimera, the phenomenon is referred to as chimerism. The word comes from Greek myth and referred to the super-offspring of the mating of several different animals (usually goat, lion and dragon). Another set of words used is Mosaic, like as in the artwork made by combining various fragments to make a whole piece; in Mosaicism cells, tissues and organs come together from more then one person to make up the person. Some mergings result in a body which is not noticed as a chimera, and only ever known of through genetic or paternity/maternity testing, while other mergings result in someone who is quite obviously noticeable, including asymmetrical facial and/or body features, differences in hair and skin patterns in some places, or even more than expected limbs, fingers, toes or other body parts from their siblings. Chimeras can result from three main types of merging. In one type, all the multiples are identicals of the same sex, in one the multiples are fraternals, not identical, but of the same sex, and in the third type are fraternals of different sexes. While not all chimeras are intersex, those born of fraternals of different sexes are intersex chimeras.

Cisgender: Sometimes shortened to 'cis', refers to an individual whose gender identity aligns with the one typically associated with the sex assigned to them at birth.

Closeted: Describes a person who is not open about their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Coming out: For most people who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, the process of self-acceptance that continues throughout one’s life, and the sharing of the information with others. Sometimes referred to as disclosing by the transgender community. Individuals often establish a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender/gender-expansive identity within themselves first, and then might choose to reveal it to others. Coming out can also apply to the family and friends of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender youth or adults when they reveal to others their connection to an LGBTQ person or the community. There are many different degrees of being out: Some may be out to friends only, some may be out publicly, and some may be out only to themselves. It’s important to remember that coming out is an incredibly personal and transformative experience. Not everyone is in the same place when it comes to being out, and it is critical to respect where each person is in that process of self-identification. It is up to each person, individually, to decide if and when to come out or disclose.

Compulsory sexuality: The belief that everyone should be either sexually available or in a sexual relationship.

Femme: Gender expression or presentation very associated with femininity. Extremely feminine people are sometimes referred to as High Femme.

Gay: The adjective used to describe people who are emotionally, romantically, and/or physically attracted to people of the same gender (e.g., gay man, gay people). In contemporary contexts, lesbian is often a preferred term for women, though many women use the term gay to describe themselves. People who are gay need not have had any sexual experience; it is the attraction and self-identification that determine orientation.

Gender: A set of social, psychological, and/or emotional traits, often influenced by societal expectations, that classify an individual as man, woman, a mixture of both, or neither.

Gender-affirming surgery (GAS): Surgical procedures that can help people adjust their bodies to more closely match their innate or internal gender identity. Not every transgender person will desire or have resources for surgery. This term should be used in place of the older and often offensive term sex change. Also sometimes referred to as sexual reassignment surgery (or SRS), or medical transition.

Gender binary: The concept that there are only two genders, man and woman, and that everyone must be one or the other. Also implies the assumption that gender is biologically determined.

Gender expansive: An umbrella term sometimes used to describe children and youth that expand notions of gender expression and identity beyond what is perceived as the expected gender norms for their society or context. Some gender-expansive individuals identify with being either a boy or a girl, some identify as neither, and others identify as a mix of both. Gender-expansive people feel that they exist psychologically between genders, as on a spectrum, or beyond the notion of the man/woman binary paradigm, and sometimes prefer using gender-neutral pronouns (see Preferred Gender Pronouns). They may or may not be comfortable with their bodies as they are, regardless of how they express their gender.

Gender expression: The manner in which a person communicates about gender to others through external means such as clothing, appearance, or mannerisms. This communication may be conscious or subconscious and may or may not reflect their gender identity or sexual orientation. While most people’s understandings of gender expressions relate to masculinity and femininity, there are countless combinations that may incorporate both masculine and feminine expressions—or neither—through androgynous expressions. The important thing to recognize is that an individual’s gender expression does not automatically imply one’s gender identity.

Genderfluid: moving between different gender identities or expressions at different times or situations

Gender identity: One’s deeply held core sense of being a girl/woman, boy/man, some of both, or neither. One’s gender identity does not always correspond to biological sex. Awareness of gender identity is usually experienced as early as 18 months old.

Gender neutral: Not gendered. Can refer to language (including pronouns), spaces (like bathrooms), or identities (being genderqueer, for example).

Gender nonconforming: A term (considered by some to be outdated) used to describe those who view their gender identity as one of many possible genders beyond strictly man or woman. More current terms include gender expansive, differently gendered, gender creative, gender variant, genderqueer, nonbinary, agender, gender fluid, gender neutral, bigender, androgynous, or gender diverse.

Genderqueer: Refers to individuals who identify as a combination of man and woman, neither man or woman, or both man and woman. Is sometimes used as an umbrella term in much the same way that the term ‘queer’ is used, but only referring to gender, and thus should only be used when self-identifying or quoting someone who self-identifies as genderqueer.

Gender socialization: The process by which individual on is taught how they should behave as a boy or as a girl. Parents, teachers, peers, media, and books are some of the many agents of gender socialization.

Gender spectrum: The concept that gender exists beyond a simple man/woman binary model, but instead exists on a continuum. Some people fall towards more masculine or more feminine aspects, some people move fluidly along the spectrum, and some identify off the spectrum entirely.

Gender variant: A term, often used by the medical community, to describe children, youth, and some individuals who dress, behave, or express themselves in a way that does not conform to dominant gender norms. (See gender nonconforming.) People outside the medical community tend to avoid this term because they feel it suggests these identities are abnormal, preferring terms such as gender expansive and gender creative.

Heteronormativity/Heterosexism: The stereotype that everyone must be heterosexual and/or the stereotype that only heterosexual relationships are normal, this includes when a gay or lesbian couple is given negative and hurtful comments and questions, like "So who's the girl?"

Homophobia: An aversion to lesbian or gay people that often manifests itself in the form of prejudice and bias. Similarly, biphobia is an aversion people who are bisexual, transphobia is an aversion to people who are transgender, interphobia is an aversion to intersex people., and Acephobia is aversion to and/or hatred toward asexuality and asexual people. Homophobic, biphobic, transphobic, interphobic and acephobic are the related adjectives. Collectively, these attitudes are referred to as anti-LGBTQIA+ bias.

Intergender: While intersex and transgender are not the same (transgender refers to gender identity and intersex refers to biological sex), many people who are intersex do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. Some identify as having Rejected Birth Assignment, some as Non-Binary, some as Gender-fluid, some as somewhere on Gender-expansive/variant/non-conforming, and some on the Transgender community spectrum. Intergender is a word which combines the "inter" in intersex with the "gender" in transgender to address people who live as both intersex and somewhere in the transgender community.

Intersex: Intersex is the current term used to refer to people who are biologically between the medically expected definitions of male and female. This can be through variations in hormones, chromosomes, internal or external genitalia, or any combination of any or all primary and/or secondary sex characteristics. While many intersex people are noticed as intersex at birth, many are not. As intersex is about biological sex, it is distinct from gender identity and sexual orientation. An intersex person can be of any gender identity and can also be of any sexual orientation and any romantic orientation.

Intersex Genital Mutilation (IGM): IGM refers to the violation of intersex peoples' and particularly intersex babies' and childrens' basic right to bodily self-determination. This refers to unnecessary and nonconsensual surgeries performed on intersex babies' and childrens' genitalia. These procedures are done without the person's consent and sometimes without their knowledge in the case of babies. This is done based on homophobic, transphobic and interphobic stereotypes that a body can only be male or female. Babies' and childrens' genitalia are being cut into and sometimes removed for no other reason than the doctors who do this are afraid of people existing with noticeably different genitals. These procedures cause lifelong harm, including people feeling they were robbed of bodily self-determination, feeling like their body parts were invaded, loss of reproductive function and/or sexual pleasure/sensation, poor self-esteem, depression, post-traumatic stress and even suicidality. Many human rights organizations, including the United Nations and Human Rights Watch have declared this a form of torture, and three retired U.S. Surgeons-General have come out against IGM, as has Green Party Presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein.

Latinx: a gender-expansive term used to be more inclusive of all genders than the binary terms Latino or Latina permit, as these are terms of identity found in Spanish, a gendered language.

Lesbian: Refers to a woman who is emotionally, romantically, and/or physically attracted to other women. People who are lesbians need not have had any sexual experience; it is the attraction that helps determine orientation.

Misgender: To refer to someone, especially a transgender or gender-expansive person, using a word, especially a pronoun or form of address, which does not correctly reflect the gender with which they identify.

Monoamory: Having just one intimate relationship. Compare to polyamory

Nonbinary: Refers to individuals who identify as neither man or woman, both man and woman, or a combination of man or woman. It is an identity term which some use exclusively, while others may use it interchangeably with terms like genderqueer, gender creative, gender nonconforming, gender diverse, or gender expansive. Individuals who identify as nonbinary may understand the identity as falling under the transgender umbrella, and may thus identify as transgender. Sometimes abbreviated as NB.

Out: Generally describes people who openly self-identify as LGBTQIA+ in their private, public, and/or professional lives. Sometimes, individuals are outed by others who they may have already come out to. Outing an LGBTQIA+ person without their consent is disrespectful and potentially dangerous for the LGBTQIA+ individual.

Pangender: having a gender identity or expression that encompasses all the genders, either simultaneous or alternating.

Pansexual: Refers to a person whose emotional, romantic, and/or physical attraction is to people of all genders and biological sexes. People who are pansexual need not have had any sexual experience; it is the attraction and self-identification that determines the orientation. Often included under the umbrella of bisexuality.

Polyamory: Having more than one intimate relationships simultaneously with all partners concerned. Compare to monoamory.

Preferred Gender Pronouns: A preferred gender pronoun, or PGP—sometimes called proper gender pronoun—is the pronoun or set of pronouns that an individual personally uses and would like others to use when talking to or about that individual. In English, the singular pronouns that we use most frequently are gendered, so some individuals may prefer that you use gender neutral or gender-inclusive pronouns when talking to or about them. In English, individual use they/them/their as gender-neutral singular pronouns. Others use ze (sometimes spelled zie) and hir or the pronouns xe and xer.

Queer: A term used by some people—particularly youth—to describe themselves and/or their community. Reclaimed from its earlier negative use, the term is valued by some for its defiance, by some because it can be inclusive of the entire community, and by others who find it to be an appropriate term to describe their more fluid identities. Traditionally a negative or pejorative term for people who are gay, queer is still sometimes disliked within the LGBTQIA+ community. Due to its varying meanings, this word should only be used when self-identifying or quoting someone who self-identifies as queer (i.e. “My cousin identifies as queer”).

Questioning: Describes those who are in a process of discovery and exploration about their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or a combination of any or all of these.

Romantic Orientation: This refers to a person's romantic feelings and attractions toward other people. This is distinct from sexual orientation, which refers to a person's sexual feelings and attractions, and a person can be of any combination of sexual and romantic orientations. This can include heteroromantic (attracted to opposite sex), homoromantic (attracted to same sex), bi/bi+/omni/pan-romantic (as with all the possible identifications under bisexual, here referring to romance rather than sex), demiromantic (only attracted to people once there's a strong emotional connection), Lithoromantic (people who experience romantic attraction but do not want their feelings to be reciprocated) or aromantic (not romantically attracted to other people).

Same-Gender Loving: A term sometimes used by some members of the African-American/Black community to express an alternative sexual orientation (gay/bisexual) without relying on terms and symbols of European descent.

Sensual: Enjoying pleasure brought through the senses, which may or may not be sexual.

Sex: Refers to anatomical, physiological, genetic, or physical attributes that define if a person is male, female, or intersex. These include both primary and secondary sex characteristics, including genitalia, gonads, hormone levels, hormone receptors, chromosomes, and genes. Sex is often conflated or interchanged with gender, which is more social than biological, though there is some overlap.

Sexual orientation: Emotional, romantic, or sexual feelings toward other people. While sexual behavior involves the choices one makes in acting on one’s sexual orientation, sexual orientation is part of the human condition, One’s sexual activity does not define one’s sexual orientation; typically, it is the attraction that helps determine orientation.

Transgender: Often shortened to 'trans', is a term describing a person’s gender identity that does not necessarily match their assigned sex at birth. Other terms commonly used are female to male (or FTM), male to female (or MTF), assigned male at birth (or AMAB), assigned female at birth (or AFAB), genderqueer, and gender expansive. Transgender people may or may not decide to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically to match their gender identity. This word is also used as a broad umbrella term to describe those who transcend conventional expectations of gender identity or expression. Like any umbrella term, many different groups of people with different histories and experiences are often included within the greater transgender community—such groups include, but are certainly not limited to, people who identify as transsexual, genderqueer, gender variant, gender diverse, and androgynous.

Transition: A term sometimes used to refer to the process—social, legal, and/or medical—one goes through to discover and/or affirm one’s gender identity. This may, but does not always, include taking hormones; having surgeries; and changing names, pronouns, identification documents, and more. Many individuals choose not to or are unable to transition for a wide range of reasons both within and beyond their control. The validity of an individual’s gender identity does not depend on any social, legal, and/or medical transition; the self-identification itself is what validates the gender identity.

Transsexual: A less frequently used—and sometimes misunderstood—term (considered by some to be outdated or possibly offensive, and others to be uniquely applicable to them) which refers to people who use (or consider using) medical interventions such as hormone therapy or gender-affirming surgeries (GAS), also called sex reassignment surgery (SRS) (or a combination of the two) or pursue medical interventions as part of the process of expressing their gender. Some people who identify as transsexual do not identify as transgender and vice versa.

Trans man, also Transgender man, also FTM (Female-To-Male): A transgender person who lives and identifies as a man. 

Trans woman, also Transgender Woman or MTF (Male-To-Female): A transgender person who lives as and identifies as a woman. 


Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN),

Intersex, Friends & Families (IFF),

Parents, Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG),

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