Glossary of LGBTQIA+ Terms

Asexual – a person who does not experience sexual attraction. They may or may not experience emotional, physical or romantic attraction. Asexuality differs from celibacy in that it is a sexual orientation not a choice. People who are asexual may call themselves “ace.”

Biological Sex – a classification based on the body which encompasses chromosomes, sex chromosomes and reproductive organs. Traditionally understood as a means of categorizing individuals as either male or female, scholars and scientists have worked to expand this concept as referring to a continuum rather than dichotomous categories.

Bisexual – an individual who is emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to some men and women. This attraction does not have to be equally split between genders and there may be a preference for one gender over others.

Cisgender – a person who feels comfortable with the gender identity and gender expression expectations based on their biological sex assigned at birth.

Demisexual – Someone who can only experience sexual attraction after an emotional bond has been formed. This bond does not have to be romantic in nature.

Down Low – Typically used by men of color to describe men who identify as heterosexual, but who have sex with men. Many avoid sharing this information even if they have female sexual partners. Related term: Men who sleep with men (MSM).

Gay – describes men whose enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction is to some other men. Avoid identifying gay people as “homosexuals” as this is an outdated term considered derogatory and offensive to many lesbian and gay people. Historically, this has been used as umbrella term for LGBTQ communities.

Gender – A socially constructed system of classifications that ascribes qualities of masculinity and femininity to people. Gender characteristic can change over time and vary between cultures. Also, someone’s innate sense of being man or woman.

Gender Expression – the multiple ways (e.g. behaviors, dress) in which a person may choose to communicate gender to oneself and/or to others.

Gender Identity – one’s internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman or somewhere else along the spectrum.

Genderqueer – refers to a person whose gender identity is neither man nor woman, is between or beyond genders, or is some combination of genders. This identity is usually related to or in reaction to the social construction of gender, gender stereotypes, and the gender binary system. Some genderqueer people identify under the transgender umbrella while others do not.

Heterosexual Privilege – Those benefits derived automatically by being heterosexual or being perceived as heterosexual that are denied to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and orientations other than straight.

Homosexual - because of the clinical history of the word “homosexual,” it has been used to suggest that gay and lesbian people are somehow diseased or psychologically/emotionally disordered – notions discredited by the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association in the 1970s. Please use “gay” or “lesbian” to describe people attracted to members of the same gender.

Intersex – is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.

Lesbian – describes women whose enduring emotional, romantic, and/or physical attraction is to some other women.

Pansexual – a person who has the potential to be attracted to all or many gender identities and expressions.

Queer – An umbrella term which includes lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, trans people, intersex persons, and others that do not conform to traditional descriptions of orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. A sizable percentage of people to whom this term might apply still hold ‘queer’ to be a hateful insult and offensive.

Questioning – refers to a person who is in the process of understanding and exploring their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and gender expression.

Sexual Orientation – refers to the enduring desire for intimate emotional, romantic, and/or sexual relationships with some people of the same gender, another gender, or multiple genders. It is inappropriate to use the phrase “sexual preference” as the word preference suggests a degree of voluntary choice not reported by individuals and has not been demonstrated in psychological research (APA Guidelines). It is also inappropriate to use the term “lifestyle” as that implies a choice and suggests that gay and lesbian people can be “cured.”

Transgender – Transgender (sometimes shortened to trans) people are those whose gender identity” differs from the social norms for the physical sex they were born with.

Transsexual – an older term that originated in the medical and psychological communities. While some transsexual people still prefer to use the term to describe themselves, many transgender people prefer the term transgender to transsexual. Transsexual is NOT an umbrella term. Avoid use of this term unless an individual use of this is to identify themselves.

Two-Spirit – an inclusive term created specifically by and for Native American communities. It refers to American Indian/Alaskan Native American people who (a) express their gender, sexual orientation, and/or sex/gender roles in indigenous, non-Western ways using tribal terms and concepts, and/or (b) define themselves as LGBTQI in a native context. Often peoples’ spiritual experiences or cultural beliefs are core to the formation of their two-spirit identity.

(Courtesy of WTAMU BuffAllies

Copyright The Gayly. June 19, 2018. 10:15 a.m. CST.