All definitions compiled from Human Rights Campaign, the American Psychological Association, GLAAD’s “Ally’s Guide to Terminology,” the Movement Advancement Project, and the National LGBT Health Education Center.
Ally (adj, n): A person who does not identify as LGBTQ+ but demonstrates support for LGBTQ+ communities in a variety of ways.
Agender (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.
Androgynous (adj): Identifying and/or presenting as neither distinguishably feminine or masculine.
Aromantic (adj): A person who does experience romantic attraction, but may or may not experience sexual attraction. Aromanticism is an identity, and not a diagnosable disorder.
Asexual (adj): A person who does not experience sexual attraction, but may or may not experience romantic attraction. Asexuality is an identity, and not a diagnosable disorder.
Biphobia (n): Prejudice, fear, or hatred of bisexual people.
Bisexual (adj, n): A person who is emotionally, sexually and romantically attracted to different / all genders.
Cisgender (adj): A person whose gender identity is congruent with the sex they were assigned at birth.
Cisnormativity (adj, n): The incorrect assumption that all people are cisgender. This assumption often manifests itself in the form of misgendering, which occurs when a person is referred to by the incorrect pronouns or other gendered terms.
Cissexism (adj, n): A system of acts and social norms that privileges cisgender people and oppresses and disadvantages transgender/nonbinary people. Cissexism is the appeal to norms that enforce the gender binary and/or gender essentialism, and thus oppress transgender and nonbinary people.
Closeted (adj): Describing an LGBTQ+ person who has not yet acknowledged or disclosed their LGBTQ+ identity to their family, community, or to themselves.
Coming Out (v): The process in which an LGBTQ+ person begins to acknowledge, accept and disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity, and begins to share that with their family and community. An LGBTQ+ person will come out many times throughout their life.
Cross-Dressing (v): The act of wearing items of clothing and other accoutrements commonly associated with the opposite sex within a particular society. Cross-dressing has been used for purposes of disguise, comfort, and self-expression in modern times and throughout history. Cross-dressing is not uniquely associated with LGBTQ+ culture, as many heterosexual people participate in cross-dressing as well for reasons unassociated with sexual orientation or gender identity.
Differences of Sex Development (DSD) (adj): Ambiguous genitalia, as the word implies, may make determining the child’s gender more difficult. More recently, the term Differences (or Disorders) of Sex Development (DSD) has been used to describe conditions in which the child’s genetics, hormones, internal organs or external genitalia are atypical.
Demiromantic (adj, n): A person who experiences romantic attraction only after experiencing a strong emotional connection to another person.
Demisexual (adj, n): A person who experiences sexual attraction only after experiencing a strong emotional connection to another person.
Drag Queen (n): Drag queens are performance artists, almost always male, who dress in women’s clothing and often act with exaggerated femininity and in feminine gender roles with a primarily entertaining purpose. They often exaggerate make-up such as eyelashes for dramatic, comedic or satirical effect.
Drag King (n): Drag kings are performance artists, usually female, who dress in men’s clothing and often act with exaggerated masculinity and in masculine gender roles with a primarily entertaining purpose.
Enby/NB (adj, n): Slang or shorthand language to refer to nonbinary gender identities.
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 don’t necessarily identify as women or men.
Feminine-presenting/Masculine-presenting (adj): A phrase to indicate how a person chooses to present and/or express their gender through a personal sense of style style.
Femme (adj, n): A person who identifies themselves as feminine, physically, emotionally, or mentally. Can also refer to a person who presents femininely.
Fluidity (adj): This term is generally attached to another term (such as gender-fluidity, or sexual-fluidity) and is used to denote an identity that may shift or change over time or within the mix of options available.
FtM/F2M; MtF/M2F (abbr): These terms are abbreviations that refer to the direction of transition for transgender people: female-to-male, and male-to-female.
Gay (adj): a man who is solely or primarily emotionally, sexually and romantically attracted to other men. This term can also colloquially or casually used to refer to all members of the LGBTQ+ community, particularly lesbians.
Gender Affirming Surgery (n): Referring to a range of medical procedures available to transgender people wishing to undergo medical transition that may help to alleviate feelings of gender dysphoria.
Gender Binary (n): The idea that there are only two genders – male and female – and that all people are born as and live as one of these two.
Gender Dysphoria (n): involves a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify. People with gender dysphoria may be very uncomfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth, sometimes described as being uncomfortable with their body (particularly developments during puberty) or being uncomfortable with the expected roles of their assigned gender. People with gender dysphoria may often experience significant distress and/or problems functioning associated with this conflict between the way they feel and think of themselves (referred to as experienced or expressed gender) and their physical or assigned gender.
Gender Expansive (n): Conveys a wider, more flexible range of gender identity and/or expression than typically associated with the binary gender system.
Gender Expression (n): External appearance of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut or voice, and which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine.
Gender-fluid (adj): a person who does not identify with a single fixed gender; of or relating to a person having or expressing a fluid or unfixed gender identity.
Gender Identity (n): One’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – 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 Nonconforming (adj): A broad term referring to people who do not behave in a way that conforms to the traditional expectations of their gender, or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a category.
Gender Normative (adj): Referring to gender roles, presentations and identities that are socially and societally expected and considered acceptable. Opposite of gender nonconforming.
Genderqueer (adj): a person who does not subscribe to conventional gender identities, distinctions or roles, but identifies with neither, both, or a combination of binary male and female genders.
Gender Transition (v): The process by which some people strive to more closely align their internal knowledge of gender with its outward appearance. Some people socially transition, whereby they might begin dressing, using names and pronouns and/or be socially recognized as another gender. Others undergo physical transitions in which they modify their bodies through medical interventions.
Gender Variant (adj): Related to gender nonconformity. A term often used by medical professionals to describe children and youth who dress, behave and express themselves in ways that do not conform with dominant gender norms.
Hermaphrodite (n): An outdated and offensive term to describe a person born with differences of sex development or ambiguous genitalia.
Heterosexual (n): A person who is emotionally, romantically and sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex or gender. Commonly known as “straight.”
Homophobia (n, adj): The irrational fear, prejudice towards, or hatred of lesbians and gays.
Homosexual (n): Referring to a person who is emotionally, romantically and sexually attracted to people of the same sex or gender. Among LGBTQ+ communities, this term is often considered outdated and offensive.
Hormone-Replacement Therapy (HRT) (n): A medical procedure used by transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming people who wish to change their outward appearance to better express their gender identity. HRT can be used to alter bone structure, fat distribution, hair distribution and pattern, vocal cords, musculature, and more.
Intersex (n): Referring to a person born with differences of sex development or ambiguous genitalia. This term is considered by some within the community to be outdated and offensive.
Lesbian (adj, n): a woman who is solely or primarily emotionally, sexually and romantically attracted to other women.
LGBTQ (abbr): A commonly used acronym to refer to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.
Living Openly (v): A state in which LGBTQ people are comfortably out about their sexual orientation or gender identity – where and when it feels appropriate to them.
MSM/WSW (abbr): Men who have sex with men / women who have sex with women. This abbreviation refers to sexual behaviors, and not necessarily sexual orientations or preferences, as not only gay men have sex with men and not only lesbians have sex with women.
Mx. (honorific): An honorific used by some people who do not wish to identify with masculine (Mr.) or feminine (Ms., Mrs.) titles.
Non-Binary (adj): referring to a spectrum of gender identities that are outside or between the male-female gender binary.
Outing (v): Exposing someone’s lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender identity to others without their consent, knowledge, or permission. Outing someone can have serious repercussions on employment, economic stability, personal safety or religious or family situations.
Pansexual (adj, n): A person who experiences romantic and sexual attraction for people of all gender identities and expressions.
Passing (adj, v): Referring to someone, especially a transgender person, who is perceived by others as cisgender. The appropriateness of the term passing, and the desirability of blending into cisgender society, are both debated within the transgender community.
Polyamory/Polyamorous (adj, n): The practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the consent of all partners involved. It is described as “consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy.”
Queer (adj, n, v): An umbrella term to refer to variance of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. “Queer” is a term commonly used in academia and among younger members of the LGBTQ+ community, but may be offensive to older members of the LGBTQ+ community as it has recently been reclaimed from the common slur it was. Non-members of the LGBTQ+ community should be careful about the usage of this word.
Questioning (adj): A person who is in the process of questioning what their sexual orientation and/or gender identity is, and if it is different from how they have previously identified.
QPOC/QTPOC (abbr): An abbreviation to refer to Queer People of Color / Queer Trans People of Color.
Same-Gender Loving (adj): A term used within African-American communities to refer to the emotional, romantic and sexual attraction to a person of the same sex/gender. This term is an intentional departure from “homosexual” or “gay / lesbian,” which are felt among some African-American communities to be only associated with whiteness or white people.
Sex Assigned at Birth (n): The sex (male or female) given to a child at birth, most often based on the child’s external anatomy. This is also referred to as “assigned sex at birth.” In a cisnormative society, a child’s sex assigned at birth is often correlated with the child’s perceived gender and informs expectations of male or female gender roles beginning in childhood.
Sexual Attraction (n): Attraction on the basis of sexual desire of another person. Sexual attraction is different than sexual orientation.
Sexual Orientation (n): An inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people. A person’s sexual orientation is often an important aspect of their sense of identity and place in the world.
Sexual Preference (n): Sometimes interchangeable with “sexual orientation,” a person’s sexual preference informs how they are attracted to other people, and who they are attracted to.
Stealth (adj): This term refers to a transgender person choosing not to disclose their transgender identity and “pass” for cisgender in the public sphere. A person may not decide to be “stealth” in all arenas of their live; for example, a person may choose to be “stealth” at work but out among friends and family. Like “passing,” there is debate among the transgender community about the roots of the desire to be stealth.
Sex Reassignment Surgery (n): An outdated term to refer to “gender affirming surgery.”
Straight (adj): A common term to refer to a heterosexual sexual orientation.
They/Them (pronoun): They/Them/Theirs are common singular pronouns chosen by people with nonbinary and genderqueer gender identities. These pronouns are apt for this use as they do not refer to male or female binary genders.
Third Gender (n): a concept in which individuals are categorized, either by themselves or by society, as neither man nor woman. It is also a social category present in societies that recognize three or more genders.
Top Surgery (n): This term refers to surgical procedures of the chest utilized by transgender people as part of medical transition. This term can refer to breast augmentation surgery, or bilateral mastectomy and male chest reconstruction depending on the transition goals of the person.
Transgender (n): Referring to a person whose gender identity does not correspond with the sex they were assigned at birth or the societal gender roles and expectations associated with that sex.
Transsexual (n): An outdated term to refer to a transgender person. Some older transgender people may still identify with this term, but for the most part is considered inappropriate.
Transphobia (n): Referring to the irrational fear, prejudice or hatred of transgender people.
Transvestite (n): An outdated and offensive term to refer to a transgender person or a person born with differences of sex development.
Two-Spirit (adj, n): Reserved for Native American / First Nations / Indigenous peoples only, Two-Spirit refers to a person who fills a third-gender or gender-variant ceremonial role in their cultures.