Glossary of Terms
This is a list of common terms and definitions associated with the LGBTQ+ community. This is by no means an exhaustive list! We want to recognize that terminology can change over time. There is an incredible amount of varying identities within the LGBTQ+ community that often times a term does not adequately capture all associated identities or individuals within. Always listen for how a person self-identifies and respect their own use of terminology. Information on this page has been modified from resources created by the Human Rights Campaign, It’s Pronounced Metrosexual, the Safe Zone Project, and GLAAD.
Ally – Typically a straight and/or cisgender individual who supports and respects members of the LGBTQ+ community through intentional action
Asexual – Little to no sexual attraction or desire for other people and a lack of interest in sexual behavior. Sometimes abbreviated as “ace”
Biphobia – A range of negative attitudes including fear, anger or hatred toward people who identify as bisexual or pansexual. These negative attitudes are often rooted in bias, prejudice, and intolerance which can lead to discriminatory practices.
Bisexual – A individual who emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to more than one sex, gender or gender identity. Sometimes this term is used interchangeably with pansexual.
Cisgender – A term to describe someone whose gender identity aligns with their sex assigned to them at birth. For example, someone who was assigned male at birth and identifies as a male would be considered cisgender.
Coming out – the process by which one shares their sexuality or gender identity with others.
Folx – An alternative spelling of “folks” that utilizes an inclusive way to describe a group of individuals. The “x” at the end represents the unknown variable in mathematics, thus folx is used to describe everyone in a group of individuals regardless of gender identity.
Gay – A person who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to members of the same gender. Typically used to refer to men, but is not exclusive to those with male gender identities.
Gender expression – The external appearance and display of one’s gender identity expressed through behavior, clothing, body characteristics and voice.
Gender-fluid – A person who does not identify with a single fixed gender or has a fluid or unfixed gender identity.
Gender non-binary – A broad term referring to people who might not subscribe to the traditional expectations of their gender or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a category. While many also identify as transgender, not all gender non-binary people do.
Gender identity – One’s own self-concept of gender; this can include but is not limited to male, female, a blend of both, neither, etc. Gender refers to how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One’s gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth. Gender identity is independent of sexual orientation.
Genderqueer – A person who does not identify with a single fixed gender or has a fluid or unfixed gender identity.
Heterosexual – Used to describe people whose physical, romantic, and/or sexual attraction is to people of the opposite sex. Sometimes individuals who are heterosexual are described as “straight.”
Homophobia – A range of negative attitudes including fear, anger or hatred toward people who identify as gay, lesbian, and queer. These negative attitudes are often rooted in bias, prejudice, and intolerance which can lead to discriminatory practices.
Homosexual – A term previously used to describe individuals with same-sex attraction. The term is outdated, derogatory and offensive. Use of the term gay man, lesbian, bisexual individual, etc. is considered more appropriate.
Intersex – Intersex people are born with a variety of differences in their sex traits and reproductive anatomy. There is a wide variety of difference among intersex variations, including differences in genitalia, chromosomes, gonads, internal sex organs, hormone production, hormone response, and/or secondary sex traits. The term “hermaphrodite” was previously used to describe some intersex individuals however this term is no longer used as it is considered stigmatizing and derogatory.
LGBTQ+ – An acronym used to collectively described lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (or questioning) individuals. There are numerous identities not covered by the letters LGBTQ, thus the plus is used. Sometimes individuals use the term gender and sexual minorities as another way to describe the same population.
Lesbian – A person who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to other women.
Pansexual – A individual who emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to more than one sex, gender or gender identity. Sometimes this term is used interchangeably with bisexual. People who identify as pansexual might feel attraction to anyone including those who do not identify as a specific gender.
Queer – A term used to express a spectrum of identities and orientations; queer is often used as a catch-all to include many people, including those who do not identify as exclusively straight and/or folks who have non-binary or gender-expansive identities. This term has historical connotations as a slur but has been reclaimed recently by many individuals in the LGBTQ+ community.
Questioning – Used to describe people who are in the process of exploring their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Sexual orientation – Emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people. Sexual orientation is independent of gender identity.
Transgender – An umbrella term for someone whose sex assigned at birth and gender identity do not correspond or match in the expected way. Transgender is considered the opposite of cisgender. For example, someone who was assigned male at birth and does not identify as a male would be considered transgender.
Trans* – Another term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth.
Transphobia – A range of negative attitudes including fear, anger or hatred toward people who identify as transgender, trans*, gender non-binary, and genderqueer. These negative attitudes are often rooted in bias, prejudice, and intolerance which can lead to discriminatory practices.
Last updated: 7/2/2021