LGBT Online Resource: Terms, Culture, Definitions

Ally: A person who confronts heterosexism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and heterosexual privilege in themselves and others out of self-interest and a concern for the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual people and believes that dismantling heterosexism, biphobia, transphobia and genderism/cis-sexism is a social justice issue.

Advocate: a person who actively works to end intolerance, educate others, and support social equity for a marginalized group

Androgyne: A person with physical traits of male and female

Aromantic: is a person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others and/or a lack of interest in forming romantic relationships

Asexuality: A sexual orientation generally characterized by not feeling sexual attraction or a desire for partnered sexuality. Asexuality is distinct from celibacy, which is the deliberate abstention from sexual activity. Some asexual people do have sex. There are many diverse ways of being asexual

Bathroom Solidarity: a supportive action that may be desired by some trans individuals in which a cisgender individual accompanies or escorts a trans individual to a public bathroom. Don’t assume this is required or desired, but feel free to ask.

Bigender: Having two genders, exhibiting cultural characteristics of masculine and feminine roles

Biphobia: fear or hatred of people who are bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, or nonmonosexual. Biphobia is closely linked with transphobia and homophobia.

Bisexual: A person whose primary sexual and affectional orientation is toward people of the same and other genders, or towards people regardless of their gender.

Coming Out: “Coming out" describes voluntarily making public one's sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It has also been broadened to include other pieces of potentially stigmatized personal information. Terms also used that correlate with this action are: "Being out" which means not concealing one's sexual orientation or gender identity, and "Outing, " a term used for making public the sexual orientation or gender identity of another without permission.

Cisgender: a gender identity, or performance in a gender role, that society deems to match the person’s assigned sex at birth.  The prefix cis- means "on this side of" or "not across." This term is used to avoid “othering” trans people. For example, “Trans” versus “Normal” people.

Cross Dresser (CD): A word to describe a person who dresses, at least partially, as a member of a gender other than their assigned sex; carries no implications of sexual orientation. Has replaced “Transvestite”

Demisexual: an individual who does not experience sexual attraction unless they have formed a strong emotional connection with another individual. Often within a romantic relationship.

Dominant/Privileged/Agent group: Members are privileged by birth or acquisition, who knowingly or unknowingly exploit and reap unfair advantage over members.

Drag King: A person (often a woman) who appears as a man. Generally in reference to an act or performance.  This has no implications regarding gender identity.

Drag Queen: A person (often a man) who appears as a woman. Generally in reference to an act or performance. This has no implications regarding gender identity.

Empowerment: When target group members refuse to accept the dominant ideology and their subordinate status and take actions to redistribute social power more equitably.

Gay: A sexual and affectional orientation toward people of the same gender; can be used as an umbrella term for men and women.

Gender: An individual’s basic self-conviction of being a woman, man, or another gender. This conviction is not contingent upon the individual’s biological sex. This also has no bearing on the individual’s sexual orientation. Since gender is socially constructed, concepts of what gender is vary greatly across cultures and across time.

Gender Expressions: How one expresses oneself, in terms of dress and/or behaviors that society characterizes as "masculine" or "feminine."

Genderism: 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 construct, cisgender people are the dominant/agent group and trans*/ gender nonconforming people are the oppressed/target group.

Gender Outlaw: A person who refuses to be defined by conventional definitions of male and female.

Gender Nonconforming (GNC): people who do not subscribe to gender expressions or roles expected of them by society.

Genderqueer: A person whose gender identity and/or gender expression falls outside of the dominant societal norm for their assigned sex, is beyond genders, or is some combination of them.

Gender Variant: A person who varies from the expected characteristics of the assigned gender.

Heteronormativity: The messages in our culture that suggest that traditional sexual orientation, gender identity, and family structure are more “normal” than other identities. That is, messages that say that heterosexuality is more normal than any other sexual orientation, being cisgender is more normal than being transgender, and that a family with both a mom and a dad is more normal than any other family structure.

Heterosexism: The assumption that all people are or should be heterosexual.  Heterosexism excludes the needs, concerns, and life experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer people while it gives advantages to heterosexual people.  It is often a subtle form of oppression, which reinforces realities of silence and invisibility. 

Heterosexuality: The sexual orientation that is generally presumed or expected of a person. When a man is only attracted to women, or a woman is only attracted to men.

Homophobia: The irrational hatred and fear of LGBTQIA people.  In a broader sense, any disapproval of LGBTQIA people at all, regardless of motive.  Homophobia includes prejudice, discrimination, harassment, and acts of violence brought on by fear and hatred.  It occurs on personal, institutional, and societal levels.  Homophobia is closely linked with transphobia and biphobia.

Homosexual/Homosexuality: An outdated term to describe a sexual orientation in which a person feels physically and emotionally attracted to people of the same gender.  Historically, it was a term used to pathologize gay and lesbian people.

Internalized homophobia: The fear and self-hate of one’s own lgbtqia identity, that occurs for many individuals who have learned negative ideas about LGBT people throughout childhood.  One form of internalized oppression is the acceptance of the myths and stereotypes applied to the oppressed group.

Intersex: People who naturally (that is, without any medical intervention) develop primary or secondary sex characteristics that do not fit neatly into society's definitions of male or female. Many visibly Intersex people receive surgeries in infancy and early childhood to make the individual’s sex characteristics conform to society’s idea of what normal bodies should look like.  Doctors often place pressure on the parents to give the child these surgeries, and sometimes the surgeries are performed without the consent of the parents.  Intersex people are relatively common, although the society's denial of their existence has allowed very little room for intersex issues to be discussed publicly. Hermaphrodite is an outdated and inaccurate term that has been used to describe intersex people in the past.

Lesbian: A woman whose primary sexual and affectional orientation is toward people of the same gender.

LGBT: Abbreviation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender.  An umbrella term that is used to refer to the community as a whole.  Our center uses LGBTQIA to intentionally include and visibilize the Queer, Intersex and Asexual communities under our umbrella.

MSM: an abbreviation for men who have sex with men; they may or may not identify as gay.

Nonmonosexual: people who are attracted to more than one gender.

Omnigender: Possessing all genders. The term is used specifically to refute the concept of only two genders.

Outing: a term used for making public the sexual orientation or gender identity of another without permission. (Don’t do this!)

Pansexual, Omnisexual: Terms used to describe people who have romantic, sexual or affectional desire for people of all genders and sexes.

Polygender, Pangender: Exhibiting characteristics of multiple genders, deliberately refuting the concept of only two genders.

Pronouns: (In this context) words that are used as replacements or substitutes for a person’s name, and reference that person. An example of some commonly used pronouns: She/Her/Hers, They/Them/Theirs, He/Him/His, Zie/Hir/Hirs.

QPOC: Abbreviation for Queer People of color

Queer: Anyone who chooses to identify as such. This can include, but is not limited to, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and asexual people. Not all the people in the above subcategories I.D. as queer, and many people NOT in the above groups DO. This term has different meanings to different people. Some still find it offensive, while others reclaim it to encompass the broader sense of history of the gay rights movement. Can also be used as an umbrella term like LGBT, as in "the queer community." Some transgender people express concern that “queer” only applies to sexual orientation.

Sex: a categorization based on the appearance of the genitalia at birth.

Sexuality: The components of a person that include their biological sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual practices, etc.

Sexual Orientation: Sexual Orientation is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional attraction or non-attraction to other people.  Sexual orientation is fluid and people use a variety of labels to describe their sexual orientation.

Stressors: Commonly referred to as a trigger

Trans man: Also referred to as FTM. A person may choose to identify this way to capture their gender identity as well as their lived experience as a transgender person.

Transphobia: the fear or hatred of transgender people or people who do not meet society’s gender role expectations. Transphobia is closely linked with homophobia and biphobia.

Trans woman: Also referred to as MTF. A person may choose to identify this way to capture their gender identity as well as their lived experience as a transgender person.

Transgender: used most often as an umbrella term, some commonly held definitions 1. Someone whose gender identity or expression does not fit within dominant-group social constructs of assigned sex and gender. 2.  A gender outside of the man/woman binary.  3. Having no gender or multiple genders.

Triggers: See stressors. Words, phrases, or stimuli that create an emotional response because they tap into anger or pain about oppression issues or previous trauma.

Two Spirit: Many Native American Tribes have three, five or even seven genders. These dual-gendered people, or “two-spirited” are viewed differently in different Native communities.  Sometimes they are seen without stigma and considered emissaries from the creator, treated with the deference and respect, or even considered sacred – but this is not always the case. “Two-Spirit” is the closest thing to an appropriate umbrella term of referring to these gender traditions among Native peoples.  However, there are a variety of definitions and feelings about the term “two spirit.”