Below is a fairly comprehensive listing of terms used in the LGBTQ+ community although it is a growing list and therefore may not be complete. If you are aware of other terms that you feel should be included please use the Contact Us page, provide the term and your best effort at the definition for consideration to be added here. We appreciate your time and knowledge.
This is not intended to be terms and definitions related to sexual acts. If looking for the definition of “fellatio”, it is not included here.
If interested check out Wikipedia’s Sexual Slang and Glossary of BDSM.
While exploring be sure to check these resources out too:
- Guide to 72 LGBTQ+ Pride Flags
- Introduction of the new LGBTQ+ Intersectional Pride flag
- Understanding Gender Identity and Expression 101
Ability – [ uh–bil-i-tee ] noun: The quality of having the means or skill to do something. Ability is not permanent, can fluctuate throughout one’s life, and is another aspect of diversity in our communities. Disabilities do not necessarily limit people unless society imposes assumptions that do not account for the variation in people’s abilities.
Ableism – [ ey-buh-liz-uhm ] noun: The pervasive system of discrimination and exclusion that oppresses people who are differently-abled, including differences in mental, cognitive, emotional, and/or physical abilities, through attitudes, actions, or institutional policies.
Abrosexual – [ ab-roh-sek-shoo-uhl ] adj.: Someone who is abrosexual has a fluid sexual orientation. They experience different sexual orientations over time.
Advocate – [ ad-vuh-keyt ] noun & verb: 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.
Ageism – [ ey-jiz-uhm ] noun: The pervasive system of prejudice and discrimination that marginalizes people based on their age. This can be perpetuated through stereotypes of youthfulness versus life at an older age and through oppressive policies that subordinate and exclude older folks. Ageism can impact different age groups besides older folks, such as children who are stereotyped as being unable to make big decisions.
Agender – [ ey-jen-der ] 1 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. 2 noun: a person who is agender.
Allosexism – [ al-uh–seks-iz-uhm] noun: The pervasive system of discrimination and exclusion that oppresses asexual people built out of the assumption that everyone does and should experience sexual attraction.
Allosexual – [ al-uh–sek-shoo-uhl ] adj.: refers to people who do not identify as asexual—that is, people who regularly experience sexual attraction, regardless of their sexual orientation. Asexual, in contrast, refers to people who experience no or little sexual attraction. As a counterpart to asexual, the word allosexual helps normalize and destigmatize asexuality in society.
Allistic – [ al-lis-tik ] adj.: describes a person who is not autistic and is often used to emphasize the privilege of people who are not on the autism spectrum.
Ally – [ al-ahy ] – 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 meaningful action in support and respect.
Allyship – [ al-ahy ship ] – noun: The action of working to end oppression through support of, and as an advocate with and for, a group other than one’s own
Androgyny – [ ăn-drŏj′ə-nē ] (androgynous) – 1 noun: a gender expression that has elements of both masculinity and femininity; 2 adj.: occasionally used in place of “intersex” to describe a person with both female and male anatomy, generally in the form “androgyne.”
Androsexual or androphilic – [ an-droh-sek-shoo-uhl ] adj.: being primarily sexually, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to men, males, and/or masculinity.
Aromantic – /”ay-ro-man-tic”/ – 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 – [ ey-sek-shoo-uhl ] 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). Sometimes abbreviated to “ace.”
Autism – [ aw-tiz-uhm ] (no longer in clinical use) a pervasive developmental disorder that commonly manifests in early childhood, characterized by impaired communication, excessive rigidity, and emotional detachment: now considered one of the autism spectrum disorders described as any of various disorders, as autism and Asperger syndrome, commonly manifesting in early childhood and characterized by impaired social or communication skills, repetitive behaviors, or a restricted range of interests.
Autoromantic – [aw-toh-roh-man-tik] adj.: a term for the experience of romantic attraction to oneself. Its sexual counterpart is autosexual.
Autosexual – [aw-toh-sek-shoo-uhl] adj.: a term for sexual attraction to oneself, especially a preference for masturbation over sexual intercourse. Experiencing romantic feelings towards oneself is called autoromantic.
BDSM – Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadism and Masochism. BDSM refers to a wide spectrum of activities and forms of interpersonal relationships. While not always overtly sexual in nature, the activities and relationships within a BDSM context are almost always eroticized by the participants in some fashion. Many of these practices fall outside of commonly held social norms regarding sexuality and human relationships.
Bear Community: – a part of the queer community composed of queer men similar in looks and interests, most of them big, hairy, friendly and affectionate speaking sterotypically. The community aims to provide spaces where one feels wanted, desired, and liked. It nourishes and values an individual’s process of making friends and learning self-care and self-love through the unity and support of the community. Bears, Cubs, Otters, Wolves, Chasers, Admirers and other wildlife comprise what has come to be known as the Brotherhood of Bears and/or the Bear community. See also: Ursula
Bi erasure – [bahy ih-rey-sher] a short form of bisexual erasure, is the act of ignoring, explaining away, or otherwise dismissing bisexuality in culture, media, or history.
Bicurious – [ bahy-kyoor-ee-uhs ] adj.: a curiosity toward experiencing attraction to people of the same gender/sex (similar to questioning).
Bigender – [ bahy-jen-der ] 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/binding – [ bahyn-der ] / [ bahyn-ding ] 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.
Biological sex – [ bahy-uh–loj-i-kuhl ] [ seks ] 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 – [ bahy-foh-bee-uh ] 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 – [ bahy-sek-shoo-uhl ] 1 noun: a person who experiences attraction to some men and women. 2 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. Often used interchangeably with “pansexual”.
BlaQ/BlaQueer – [ blak ] / [ bla-kweer ] Persons of Black/African descent and/or from the African diaspora who recognize their queerness/LGBTQIA identity as a salient identity attached to their Blackness and vice versa.
Body Image – [ bod-ee ] [ im-ij ] adj.: how a person feels, acts and thinks about their body. Attitudes about our own bodies, in general, are shaped by our communities, families, cultures, media, and our own perceptions.
Body Policing – [ bod-ee ] [ puh–lees-ing ] adj.: any behavior which (indirectly or directly, intentionally or unintentionally) attempts to correct or control a person’s actions regarding their own physical body, frequently with regards to gender expression or size.
Butch – [ booch ] noun & adj.: a person who identifies themselves as masculine, whether it be physically, mentally, or emotionally. ‘Butch’ is sometimes used as a derogatory term for lesbians, but is also be claimed as an affirmative identity label.
Ceterosexual – [ set-er-oh-sek-shoo-uhl ] adj.: Someone who is ceterosexual is a nonbinary person who is primarily sexually attracted to other nonbinary people.
Cis – [ sis ] adj. & noun: short for cisgender, which refers to when a person’s gender identity corresponds to their sex as assigned at birth. Cisgender is the opposite of transgender.
Cisgender – [ sis–jen-der ] adj. & noun: 1. agj. a gender description for when someone’s sex assigned at birth and gender identity correspond in an expected way (e.g., someone who was assigned male at birth, and identifies as a man). A simple way to think about it is if a person is not transgender, they are cisgender. The word cisgender can also be shortened to “cis.” 2. noun: a person who is cisgender
Cisnormativity – [ sis-nawr-muh-tiv-i-tee ] 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 the invisibility of non-cisgender identities. –
Cissexism – [ sis-sek-siz-uhm ] 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 – [ kloz-i-tid ] 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. Also known as being “in the closet.” When someone chooses to break this silence they “come out” of the closet. (see coming out)
Coming out – [ kuhm-ing out ] 1 noun: the process by which one accepts and/or comes to identify one’s own sexuality or gender identity (to “come out” to oneself). 2 verb: the process by which one shares one’s sexuality or gender identity with others.
Constellation – [ kon-stuh–ley-shuhn ] noun: a way to describe the arrangement or structure of a polyamorous relationship.
Cross-dresser – [ kraws-dres-er ] noun: someone who wears clothes of another gender/sex. Carries no implications of sexual orientation.
Culture – [ kuhl-cher ] noun: A learned set of values, beliefs, customs, norms, and perceptions shared by a group of people that provide a general design for living and patterns for interpreting life.
Cultural Humility – [ kuhl–cher ] [ hyoo-mil-i-tee ] noun: An approach to engagement across differences that acknowledges systems of oppression and embodies the following key practices: 1. a lifelong commitment to self-evaluation and self-critique, 2. a desire to fix power imbalances where none ought to exist, and 3. aspiring to develop partnerships with people and groups who advocate for others on a systemic level.
Demigirl – [dem-ee-gurl] noun: a gender where a person partially identifies as a woman or with feminine characteristics.
Demiboy/demiguy – [dem-ee-boi] [dem-ee-gahy] noun: a gender where a person partially identifies as a man or with masculine characteristics.
Demiromantic – [ dem-ee-roh-man-tik ] adj.: little or no capacity to experience romantic attraction until a strong sexual connection is formed with someone, often within a sexual relationship.
Demisexual – [dem-ee-sek-shoo-al] adj.: little or no capacity to experience sexual attraction until a strong romantic connection is formed with someone, often within a romantic relationship.
Disability/(Dis)ability/Dis/ability: [ dis-uh–bil-i-tee ]noun: A social construct that identifies any restriction or lack of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered “typical” for a human being given environments that are constructed for and by the dominant or “typical” person.
Discrimination – [ dih-skrim-uh-ney-shuhn ] noun: Inequitable actions carried out by members of a dominant group or its representatives against members of a marginalized or minoritized group.
Down low – [ doun-loh ] adj.: typically referring to men who identify as straight but who secretly have sex with men. Down low (or DL) originated in, and is most commonly used by, communities of color.
Drag king – [ drag-king ] noun: someone who performs (hyper-) masculinity theatrically.
Drag queen – [ drag-kween ] noun: someone who performs (hyper-) femininity theatrically.
DSG – abv.: is Diverse Sexualities and Genders
Dyke – [ dahyk ] noun: referring to a masculine-presenting lesbian. While often used derogatorily, it is also reclaimed affirmatively by some lesbians and gay women as a positive self-identity term.
Emotional attraction – [ ih-moh-shuh-nl ] [ uh–trak-shuhn ] 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.
Enby – [en-bee] adj.: an enby is a nonbinary person. It’s a phonetic pronunciation of NB, short for nonbinary, or people who do not identify their gender as male or female.
Ethnicity – [ eth-nis-i-tee ] noun: A social construct that divides people into smaller social groups based on characteristics such as shared sense of group membership, values, behavioral patterns, language, political and economic interests, history and ancestral geographical base.
Fag/Faggot – [ fag ] [ fag–uht ] noun: a derogatory term referring to a gay person, or someone perceived as queer. While often used derogatorily, it is also used reclaimed by some gay people (often gay men) as a positive in-group term.
Femboy – [ fem-boi ] adj.: a slang term for a young, usually cisgender male who displays traditionally feminine characteristics. While the term can be used as an insult, some in the LGBTQ community use the term positively to name forms of gender expression.
Feminine-of-center; masculine-of-center – adj.: a phrase that indicates a range in terms of gender identity and expression for people who present, understand themselves, and/or relate to others in a generally more feminine/masculine way, but doesn’t necessarily identify as women or men. Feminine-of-center individuals may also identify as “femme,” “submissive,” “transfeminine,” etc.; masculine-of-center individuals may also often identify as “butch,” “stud,” “aggressive,” “boi,” “transmasculine,” etc.
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 – [ fem ] 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.
Fetish – [ fet-ish ] noun & adj.: In common use, the word fetish is used to refer to any sexually arousing stimuli typically not mainstream viewed outside the common norm. This broader usage of fetish covers parts or features of the body (including obesity and body modifications), objects, situations (role play), and activities (such as smoking or BDSM). For more terms with definitions related to Fetish check out this Wikipedia page. Glossary of BDSM
Fluid/fluidity – [ floo-id ] [ floo-id-i-tee ] adj.: generally with another term attached, like gender-fluid or fluid-sexuality, fluid/fluidity 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).
Folx – [fohks] noun: A variation on the word folks, folx is meant to be a gender-neutral way to refer to members of or signal identity in the LGBTQ community. Because “Folks” is gendered? This one id don’t understand, but it is lut there so presenting here.
FtM / F2M; MtF / M2F – abbr.: female-to-male transgender or transsexual person; male-to-female transgender or transsexual person.
Gay – [ gey ] 1 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 – [ jen-der ] noun: A social construct used to classify a person as a man, woman, or some other identity. Fundamentally different from the sex one is assigned at birth.
Gender binary – [ jen-der bahy-nuh-ree ] noun: the idea that there are only two genders and that every person is one of those two.
Gender expansive – [ jen-der ik-span-siv ] noun: An umbrella term used for individuals who broaden their own culture’s commonly held definitions of gender, including expectations for its expression, identities, roles, and/or other perceived gender norms. Gender expansive individuals include those who identify as transgender, as well as anyone else whose gender in some way is seen to be broadening the surrounding society’s notion of gender.
Gender expression – [ jen-der ik-spresh–uhn ] 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 – [ jen-der floo-id ] 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 some days, and more woman other days.
Genderflux – [jen-der-fluhks] adj.: A person who is genderflux experiences a range of intensity within a gender identity. For example, a person who is boyflux may identify as fully masculine to partially masculine (demiboy) and slightly masculine (libramasculine) to fully agender.
Genderflux is also used by some as a synonym for gender-fluid more generally
Genderfuck – [jen-der-fuhk] adj.: seeks to subvert traditional gender binary by mixing or bending one’s gender expression, identity, or presentation (e.g., a transgender woman wearing a dress and having a beard may considered genderfuck or engaging in genderfucking).
Gender identity – [ jen-der ahy-den-ti-tee ] noun: the internal perception of 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-neutral pronouns – are pronouns which don’t carry any kind of association with a particular gender, such as they, sie, or ze. In English, the term gender-neutral pronouns usually refers to third-person pronouns (generally alternatives to he and she), since there are no gendered first- or second-person pronouns (I and you are ungendered).
Gender neutrois – [ jen-der noo-troiz] adj.: see agender
Gender non-conforming – 1 adj.: a gender expression descriptor that indicates a non-traditional gender presentation (masculine woman or feminine man). 2 adj.: a gender identity label that indicates a person who identifies outside of the gender binary. Often abbreviated as “GNC” not to be confused with the nutritional supplement chain store in the USA.
Gender normative / gender straight – adj.: someone whose gender presentation, whether by nature or by choice, aligns with society’s gender-based expectations.
Gender outlaw – [ jen-der-out-law ] noun: A person who refuses to be defined by conventional definitions of male and female.
Gender variant – [ jen-der-vair-ee-uhnt ] adj.: 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).
Gendervoid of voidgender [jen-der-void] or [void-jen-der] adj.: a gender expression or identity defined by the lack of an experience of any gender.
Genderism/Cissexism – [ jen-der-iz-uhm ] noun: Is the belief that there are, and should be, only two genders & that one’s gender or most aspects of it, are inevitably tied to assigned sex. In a genderist/cissexist construct, cisgender people are the dominant/agent group and trans/ gender non-conforming people are the oppressed/target group.
Genderqueer – [ jen-der-kweer ] 1 adj.: a gender identity label often used by people who do not identify with the binary of man/woman. 2 adj.: an umbrella term for many gender non-conforming or non-binary identities (e.g., agender, bigender, genderfluid).
Grey-a – [grey-ey] adj.: As with many things in life, sexuality isn’t black and white. Grey-a, or grey-asexuality, refers to sexual identities along a spectrum of asexuality and sexuality. Those who identify as grey-a experience sexual attraction or desire sex only rarely or under certain conditions. People of a variety of gender identities can be grey-a.
GSM – abv: GSM is Gender and Sexual Minorities
Gynesexual/gynephilic – [ guy-nuh-seks-shu-uhl ] adj.: being primarily sexually, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to woman, females, and/or femininity.
Hermaphrodite – [ hur-maf-ruh-dahyt ] noun: an outdated medical term previously used to refer to someone who was born with some combination of typically-male and typically-female sex characteristics. It’s considered stigmatizing and inaccurate. See intersex.
Heteronormativity – [ het-er-uh–nawr-muh-tiv ] noun: the assumption, in individuals and/or in institutions, that everyone is heterosexual and that heterosexuality is superior to all other sexualities. Leads to invisibility and stigmatizing of other sexualities: when learning a woman is married, asking her what her husband’s name is. Heteronormativity also leads us to assume that only masculine men and feminine women are straight.
Heterosexism – [ het-er-uh–sek-siz-uhm ] noun: behavior that grants preferential treatment to heterosexual people, reinforces the idea that heterosexuality is somehow better or more “right” than queerness, and/or makes other sexualities invisible.
Heterosexual / straight – [ het-er-uh–sek-shoo-uhl ] adj.: experiencing attraction solely (or primarily) to some members of a different gender.
Homophobia – [ hoh-muh–foh-bee-uh ] noun: an umbrella term for a range of negative attitudes (e.g., fear, anger, intolerance, resentment, erasure, or discomfort) that one may have toward LGBTQ people. The term can also connote a fear, disgust, or dislike of being perceived as LGBTQ. homophobic – adj. : a word used to describe actions, behaviors, or individuals who demonstrate elements of this range of negative attitudes toward LGBTQ people.
Homosexual/Homosexuality – [ hoh-muh–sek-shoo-uhl ] [ hoh-muh-sek-shoo-al-i-tee] adj. & noun: a person primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to members of the same sex/gender. This [medical] term is considered stigmatizing (particularly as a noun) due to its history as a category of mental illness and is discouraged for common use (use gay or lesbian instead).
Internalized oppression – [ in-tur-nl-ahyz-d uh–presh–uhn ] noun: The fear and self-hate of one or more of a person’s own identities that occurs for many individuals who have learned negative ideas about their identities throughout childhood. One form of internalized oppression is the acceptance of the myths and stereotypes applied to the oppressed group.
Intersectionality – [ in-ter-sek-shuh–nal-i-tee ] noun: A term coined by law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw in the 1980s to describe the way that multiple systems of oppression interact in the lives of those with multiple marginalized identities. Intersectionality looks at the relationships between multiple marginalized identities and allows us to analyze social problems more fully, shape more effective interventions, and promote more inclusive advocacy amongst communities.
Intersex – [ in-ter-seks ] 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. Formerly known as hermaphrodite (or hermaphroditic), but these terms are now outdated and derogatory.
Juxera – [juhks-eer–uh] ajj.: a gender identity created on the app Tumblr. It can be described as being feminine but not a female, like a girl but not a girl.
Kink – (Kinky, Kinkiness) adj.: consensual, non-traditional sexual, sensual, and intimate behaviors such as sadomasochism, domination and submission, erotic roleplaying, fetishism, and erotic forms of discipline.
Latinx – [ La-TEEN-ex ] noun: is a non-gender specific way of referring to people of Latin American descent. The term Latinx, unlike terms such as Latino/a and [email protected], does not assume a gender binary and includes nonbinary folks.
Lavender ceilings – [ lav–uhn-der see-ling ] noun: a glass ceiling specifically imposed on LGBTQ people: an unofficial upper limit to their professional advancement and are the result of systemic bias and discrimination against LGBTQ people in the workplace and in society more broadly.
Leather community: A community that encompasses those who enjoy sexual activities involving leather, including leather uniforms or cowboy outfits, and is related to similar fetish-based communities such as sadomasochism, bondage and domination, and rubber. Although the leather community is often associated with the queer community, it can and does include heterosexuals.
Lesbian – [ lez-bee-uhn ] noun & adj.: women who are primarily attracted romantically, erotically, and/or emotionally to other women.
Lesbian-baiting – [lez-bee-uh n beyt-ing] adj.:is the sexist and homophobic practice of labeling women (especially feminists and women whose behavior doesn’t reinforce traditional gender stereotypes) as lesbian in an effort to slur or diminish them.
LGBTQ – abbr.: shorthand or umbrella t erms for all folks who have a non-normative (or queer) gender or sexuality, there are many different initialisms people prefer. LGBTQ is Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer and/or Questioning (sometimes people at a + at the end in an effort to be more inclusive); see What Does LGBTQ Mean for a robust list of its many variations.
Lipstick lesbian – noun: Usually refers to a lesbian with feminine gender expression. Can be used in a positive or a derogatory way. Is sometimes also used to refer to a lesbian who is assumed to be (or passes for) straight.
Metrosexual – adj.: a man with a strong aesthetic sense who spends more time, energy, or money on his appearance and grooming than is considered gender normative.
Masculine of Center (MOC) – A term coined by B. Cole of the Brown Boi Project to describe folks, including lesbian/queer womyn and trans folks, who lean towards the masculine side of the gender spectrum. These can include a wide range of identities such as butch, stud, aggressive/AG, dom, macha, tomboi, trans-masculine, etc.
#MeToo – noun: a social movement originating among women, advocating for survivors of sexual harassment or violence to speak out about their experiences in order to expose and combat various forms of sexual misconduct. In most cases it ignores boys and men who have faced the same situations.
Microaggressions – Brief and subtle behaviors, whether intentional or not, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages of commonly oppressed identities. These actions cause harm through the invalidation of the target person’s identity and may reinforce stereotypes. Examples of microaggressions include a person who is not white being told they speak “good English” or someone saying something is “gay” to mean they think something is bad.
Misgendering – Attributing a gender to someone that is incorrect/does not align with their gender identity. Can occur when using pronouns, gendered language (i.e. “Hello ladies!” “Hey guys”), or assigning genders to people without knowing how they identify (i.e. “Well, since we’re all women in this room, we understand…”).
MLM – an abbreviation for men who love men, which includes gay men as well as men who are attracted to men and people of other genders.
Monogamy – Having only one intimate partner at any one time; also known as serial monogamy, since “true” monogamy refers to the practice of having only one partner for life (such as in some animal species).
Monosexism – The belief in and systematic privileging of monosexuality as superior, and the systematic oppression of non-monosexuality.
Monosexual: People who have romantic, sexual, or affectional desire for one gender only. Heterosexuality and homosexuality are the most well-known forms of monosexuality.
MSM – an abbreviation for men who have sex with men; they may or may not identify as gay.
MSM / WSW – abbr.: men who have sex with men or women who have sex with women, to distinguish sexual behaviors from sexual identities: because a man is straight, it doesn’t mean he’s not having sex with men. Often used in the field of HIV/Aids education, prevention, and treatment.
Multisexual – An umbrella term to describe attraction to more than one gender. It can include sexual attractions like bisexual, polysexual, omnisexual, and others. The aforementioned terms are used by some interchangeably and for others the subtle differences among them are important.
Mx. – / “mix” or “schwa” / – noun: an honorific (e.g. Mr., Ms., Mrs., etc.) that is gender-neutral. It is often the option of choice for folks who do not identify within the gender binary: Mx. Smith is a great teacher.
Neurodiversity – Neurodiversity refers to the natural and important variations in how human minds think. These differences can include autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyspraxia, dyslexia, dyscalculia, Tourette Syndrome, and others. Like other variable human traits like race, gender, sexuality, or culture, there is no right or wrong form of diversity. The social dynamics that exert power over other forms of diversity also impact neurodivergent people. Neurodiversity is not something to be cured or corrected to fit some social norm – rather, we should celebrate different forms of communication and self-expression and promote support systems to allow neurodivergent people to thrive. (Neurocosmopolitanism, The National Symposium on Neurodiversity)
Neurodivergent – “Neurodivergent, sometimes abbreviated as ND, means having a brain that functions in ways that diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of “normal.” A person whose neurocognitive functioning diverges from dominant societal norms in multiple ways – for instance, a person who is Autistic, has dyslexia, and has epilepsy – can be described as multiply neurodivergent. The terms neurodivergent and neurodivergence were coined by Kassiane Asasumasu, a multiply neurodivergent neurodiversity activist.” (Neurocosmopolitanism)
Neuroqueer – agj & verb- “neuro-” a combining form meaning “nerve,” “nerves,” “nervous system,” used in the formation of compound words. “queer” a term used to refer to a person who is gay which was derogatory yet in recent years reclaimed by the LGBTQ+ community to be a postive inclusive term.
Neuroqueer is both an identity and an ethos, an adjective and a verb. Its meanings are varied, but all converge around an intersection of neurodivergent theory and queer theory.
In the same ways that queer theory is opposed to cisheteronormativity, neuroqueer theory appears to oppose neuronormativity (the societal forces that privilege neurotypicality over neurodivergence).
Neurotypical – “Neurotypical, often abbreviated as NT, means having a style of neurocognitive functioning that falls within the dominant societal standards of “normal.” Neurotypical can be used as either an adjective (“He’s neurotypical”) or a noun (“He’s a neurotypical”).” (Neurocosmopolitanism)
Neutrois – A non-binary gender identity that falls under the genderqueer or transgender umbrellas. There is no one definition of Neutrois, since each person that self-identifies as such experiences their gender differently. The most common ones are: Neutral-gender, Null-gender, Neither male nor female, Genderless and/or Agender. (Neutrois.com)
Non binary/Nonbinary/Non-binary – A gender identity and experience that embraces a full universe of expressions and ways of being that resonate for an individual, moving beyond the male/female gender binary. It may be an active resistance to binary gender expectations and/or an intentional creation of new unbounded ideas of self within the world. For some people who identify as non binary there may be overlap with other concepts and identities like gender expansive and gender non-conforming.
Novosexual – [ noh-voh-sek-shoo-uhl ] adj.: When a person is novosexual, their sexual orientation changes as they experience a change in their gender identity. Both their sexual orientation and gender identity are fluid together. For example, a novosexual person may identify as a gay when they are a man but pansexual when they are nonbinary.
Outing – verb: involuntary or unwanted disclosure of another person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or intersex status.
Omnigender – Possessing all genders. The term is used specifically to refute the concept of only two genders.
Omnisexual – [ om-nuh–sek-shoo-uhl ] noun: refers to someone who is romantically, emotionally, or sexually attracted to persons of all genders and orientations. The term is often used interchangeably with pansexual.
Oppression – exists when one social group, whether knowingly or unconsciously, exploits another social group for its own benefit.
- Individual Level – a person’s beliefs or behaviors that consciously or subconsciously work to perpetuate actions and attitudes of oppression (See internalized oppression)
- Institutional Level – Institutions such as family, government, industry, education, and religion have policies and procedures that can promote systems of oppression.
- Societal/Cultural Level – community norms that perpetuate implicit and explicit values that bind institutions and individuals; social norms on what is valued, accepted, or desirable give the individual and institutional levels the justification for systemic oppression.
Orientation – [ ohr-ee-uhn-tey-shuhn ] noun: Orientation is one’s attraction or non-attraction to other people. An individual’s orientation can be fluid and people use a variety of labels to describe their orientation. Some, but not all, types of attraction or orientation include: romantic, sexual, sensual, aesthetic, intellectual and platonic.
Pangender – [ pan-jen-der ] adj.: refers to a person whose gender identity that is not limited to one gender and may encompass all genders at once.
Pansexual – [pan-sek-shoo-uh l] adj.: a person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions. Often shortened to “pan.”
Pansexual, Omnisexual: Terms used to describe people who have romantic, sexual or affectional desire for people of all genders and sexes. Has some overlap with bisexuality and polysexuality (not to be confused with polyamory).
Phobia – In mental and emotional wellness, a phobia is a marked and persistent fear that is excessive in proportion to the actual threat or danger the situation presents. Historically, this term has been used inaccurately to refer to systems of oppression (i.e. homophobia has been used to refer to heterosexism.) As a staff, we’ve been intentionally moving away from using words like “transphobic,” “homophobic,” and “biphobic” because they inaccurately describe systems of oppression as irrational fears, and, for some people, phobias are a very distressing part of their lived experience and co-opting this language is disrespectful to their experiences and perpetuates ableism.
Passing – [ pas-ing, pah-sing ] 1 adj. & verb: trans* people being accepted as, or able to “pass for,” a member of their self-identified gender identity (regardless of sex assigned at birth) without being identified as trans*. 2 adj.: an LGB/queer individual who is believed to be or perceived as straight.
PGPs – abbr.: preferred gender pronouns. Often used during introductions, becoming more common as a standard practice. Many suggest removing the “preferred,” because it indicates flexibility and/or the power for the speaker to decide which pronouns to use for someone else.
Pink Tax – [ pingk taks ] noun: Often, products marketed to women cost more than the same ones for men. This gender-based price discrepancy is known as the pink tax.
Pinkwashing or Pink Washing – [ pingk-wosh-ing, pingk-waw-shing ] noun: See article: is a term used by feminist theorists to describe the action of using queer rights to distract from violence or oppression by a country, government, or organization. In the context of LGBT rights, it is used to describe a variety of marketing and political strategies aimed at promoting products, countries, people, or entities through an appeal to gay-friendliness, in order to be perceived as progressive, modern and tolerant normally without substance.
Polyamory / Polyamorous – [ pol-ee-am-er-ee ] [ pol-ee-am-er-uhs ] 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.”
Polycule – [pol-ee-kyool] noun.: in the polyamory and BDSM communities, is a word that refers to all the people in a network of non-monogamous relationships (not being committed to one person at a time). Polycule can also refer to diagrams of these relationship networks.
Polysexual – [ pol-ee-sek-shoo-uh l] adj.: People who have a romantic, sexual, or affectional desire for more than one gender. Not to be confused with polyamory (above). Has some overlap with bisexuality and pansexuality.
Positionality – [puh-zish-uh–nal-i-tee] noun: is the social and political context that creates your identity in terms of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability status. Positionality also describes how your identity influences, and potentially biases, your understanding of and outlook on the world.
Privilege – [ priv–uh-lij, priv-lij ] noun: a set of unearned benefits given to people who fit into a specific social group. The concept has roots in WEB DuBois’ work on “psychological wage” and white people’s feelings of superiority over Black people. Peggy McIntosh wrote about privilege as a white woman and developed an inventory of unearned privileges that she experienced in daily life because of her whiteness.
Pronouns – [ proh-noun ] noun in grammar: Linguistic tools used to refer to someone in the third person. Examples are they/them/theirs, ze/hir/hirs, she/her/hers, he/him/his. In English and some other languages, pronouns have been tied to gender and are a common site of misgendering (attributing a gender to someone that is incorrect.)
Proxvir – [proks-veer] adj.: is a gender created on Tumblr. It’s similar to boy and isn’t connected to the binary, standing by itself. It can be encapsulated in the phrases “boyish, but not boy” and “masculine, but not male.”
Quoisexual – [kwa-sek-shoo-uh l] adj.: a sexual orientation on the asexuality spectrum. It can refer to a person who doesn’t relate to or understand experiences or concepts of sexual attraction and orientation. It can also refer to someone who feels confused about their own feelings of sexual attraction and orientation.
Queer – 1 adj.: an umbrella term to describe individuals who don’t identify as straight and/or cisgender. 2 noun: a slur used to refer to someone who isn’t straight and/or cisgender. Due to its historical use as a derogatory term, and how it is still used as a slur many communities, it is not embraced or used by all LGBTQ people. The term “queer” can often be used interchangeably with LGBTQ (e.g., “queer people” instead of “LGBTQ people”).
Questioning – verb, adj.: an individual who or time when someone is unsure about or exploring their own sexual orientation or gender identity.Quoisexual is a sexual orientation on the asexuality spectrum. It can refer to a person who doesn’t relate to or understand experiences or concepts of sexual attraction and orientation. It can also refer to someone who feels confusion about their own feelings of sexual attraction and orientation.
QPOC / QTPOC – abbr.: initialisms that stand for queer people of color and queer and/or trans people of color.
Race – A social construct that divides people into distinct groups based on characteristics such as physical appearance, ancestral heritage, cultural affiliation, cultural history, ethnic classification, based on the social, economic, and political context of a society at a given period of time. (Racial Equity Resource Guide)
Racism – The systematic subordination of people from marginalized racial groups based on their physical appearance, ethnic or ancestral history, or cultural affiliation. Racism is considered a deeply pervasive, systemic issue perpetuated by members of the privileged racial group holding dominant social power over others. Discrimination, prejudice, or xenophobia may be more accurate terms for describing individual acts of oppression. While these individual acts likely stem from systemic racism, at the individual level the power dynamics that enable racism are not at play in the same way.
Religion – A personal or institutionalized system of beliefs and practices concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, often grounded in belief in and reverence for some supernatural power or powers; often involves devotional and ritual observances and contains a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
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.
Romantic Orientation – Romantic Orientation is attraction or non-attraction to other people characterized by the expression or non-expression of love. Romantic orientation can be fluid and people use a variety of labels to describe their romantic orientation. See also Orientation.
Same-gender loving (SGL) – [seym jen-der luhv-ing] or [es-jee-el] adj.: sometimes used by some members of the African-American or Black community to express a non-straight sexual orientation without relying on terms and symbols of European descent.
Sex – a medically constructed categorization. Sex is often assigned based on the appearance of the genitalia, either in ultrasound or at birth.
Sexism – The cultural, institutional, and individual set of beliefs and practices that privilege men, subordinate women, and devalue ways of being that are associated with women.
Sex assigned at birth (SAAB) – abbr.: a phrase used to intentionally recognize a person’s assigned sex (not gender identity). Sometimes called “designated sex at birth” (DSAB) or “sex coercively assigned at birth” (SCAB), or specifically used as “assigned male at birth” (AMAB) or “assigned female at birth” (AFAB): Jenny was assigned male at birth, but identifies as a woman.
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.
Sexuality: The components of a person that include their biological sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual practices, etc.
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.
Sizeism – The pervasive system of discrimination and exclusion that oppresses people who have bodies that society has labeled as “overweight,” as well as people of short stature. Hxstorically speaking, fat people’s bodies have been labeled as unhealthy, undesirable, and lazy; this fails to complicate narratives around health and healthy living. This form of oppression has been referred to as fatphobia.
Skoliosexual – [skoh-lee-oh-sex-shoo-uh l] adj.: being primarily sexually, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to some genderqueer, transgender, transsexual, and/or non-binary people.
Social Identities – Social identity groups are based on the physical, social, and mental characteristics of individuals. They are sometimes obvious and clear, sometimes not obvious and unclear, often self-claimed and frequently ascribed by others.
Socialization – The process by which societal norms influence a number of aspects that frame how members of a community live – including how they might think, behave, and hold certain values. Socialization can reinforce assumptions or expectations that give power to systems of oppression.
Social Justice – A goal and a process in which the distribution of resources is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. Begins with an acknowledgement that oppression and inequity exist and must be actively dismantled on all levels. (Adams, Bell, & Griffin.)
Socioeconomic Class – Social group membership based on a combination of factors including income, education level, occupation, and social status in the community, such as contacts within the community, group associations, and the community’s perception of the family or individual.
SOGIE – An acronym that stands for Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression. Is used by some in a similar way to the umbrella acronym: LGBTQIA.
Spectrum – a range or sliding scale. Aspects of one’s identity like sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression exist on a spectrum. For example, with sexual orientation, the attraction to men, women, or someone of another gender all exist on separate spectrums. Someone might feel a little attracted to men, very much attracted to women, and moderate attraction to people outside this binary. Please also see the Gender Unicorn to learn more about these aspects of identity.
Spiritual attraction – noun: a capacity that evokes the want 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 (from little-to-none, to intense). Often conflated with sexual attraction, romantic attraction, and/or emotional attraction.
Spirituality – Having to do with deep feelings and convictions, including a person’s sense of peace, purpose, connection to others, and understanding of the meaning and value of life; may or may not be associated with a particular set of beliefs or practices.
Stealth – adj.: a trans person who is not “out” as trans, and is perceived/known by others as cisgender.
Stereotype – A generalization applied to every person in a cultural group; a fixed conception of a group without allowing for individuality. When we believe our stereotypes, we tend to ignore characteristics that don’t conform to our stereotype, rationalize what we see to fit our stereotype, see those who do not conform as “exceptions,” and find ways to create the expected characteristics.
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.
Stud – noun: most commonly used to indicate a Black/African-American and/or Latina, masculine, lesbian/queer woman. Also known as ‘butch’ or ‘aggressive’
T-girl – [ tee-gurl ] adj.: a term for a transgender girl or woman. While some in the LGBTQ community embrace the term, others find it offensive.
TERF – abbr.: Transgener Exclusionary Radical Feminist/Feminism, so people fighting for women’s rights while deliberately excluding persons of trans experience.
TGNC – abbr.: TGNC is Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming (sometimes you’ll see “NB” added for non-binary)
Third gender – noun: 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.
Top surgery – noun: this term refers to surgery for the construction of a male-type chest or breast augmentation for a female-type chest.
Trans – adj.: an umbrella term covering a range of identities that transgress socially-defined 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).
Trans man – A person may choose to identify this way to capture their gender identity as well as their lived experience as a transgender person.
Trans woman – A person may choose to identify this way to capture their gender identity as well as their lived experience as a transgender person.
Transman/transwoman – noun: a man/woman who was not assigned that gender via sex at birth, and transitioned (socially, medically, and/or legally) from that assignment to their gender identity, signified by the second part of the term (i.e., -man, -woman). Also referred to as men and women (though some/many trans people prefer to keep the prefix “trans-” in their identity label).
Transgender – 1 adj.: a gender description for someone who has transitioned (or is transitioning) from living as one gender to another. 2 adj.: an umbrella term for anyone whose sex assigned at birth and gender identity do not correspond in an expected way (e.g., someone who was assigned male at birth, but does not identify as a man).
Transition/transitioning – noun; verb: referring to the process of a transgender person changing aspects of themselves (e.g., their appearance, name, pronouns, or making physical changes to their body) to be more congruent with the gender they know themselves 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. Transphobia can be seen within the queer community, as well as in general society. Transphobic – adj. : a word used to describe an individual who harbors some elements of this range of negative attitudes, thoughts, intents, towards trans* people.
Transsexual – noun & adj.; a person who identifies psychologically as a gender/sex other than the one to which they were assigned at birth. Transsexuals often wish to transform their bodies hormonally and surgically to match their inner sense of gender/sex.
Transvestite – noun: a person who dresses as the binary opposite gender expression (“cross-dresses”) for many reasons, including relaxation, fun, and sexual gratification (often called a “cross-dresser,” and should not be confused with transsexual).
Twink – adj.: is gay slang for a young man in his late teens to early twenties whose traits may include: general physical attractiveness; little to no body or facial hair; a slim to average build; and a youthful appearance
Two-spirit – noun: is an umbrella term traditionally within Native American communities to recognize individuals who possess qualities or fulfill roles of both feminine and masculine genders.
Undocumented – People are who are born outside of the country to which they immigrated, who do not have documentation that grants legal rights related to residency and/or citizenship.
Ursula: Some lesbians, particularly butch dykes, also participate in Bear culture referring to themselves with the distinct label Ursula.
White feminism – [wahyt fem-uh-niz-uh m] adj.: the label given to feminist efforts and actions that uplift white women but that exclude or otherwise fail to address issues faced by minority groups, especially women of color and LGBTQ women.
Womxn – some womxn spell the word with an “x” as a form of empowerment to move away from the “men” in the “traditional” spelling of women.
Womyn – [wim-in] an alternative way of spelling women, used by some feminists to avoid the perceived sexism in the suffix “-men”.
Ze – / zir/ “zee”, “zerr” or “zeer”/ – alternate pronouns that are gender neutral and preferred by some trans* people. They replace “he” and “she” and “his” and “hers” respectively. Alternatively some people who are not comfortable/do not embrace he/she use the plural pronoun “they/their” as a gender neutral singular pronoun.