LGBTQIA+ Glossary

Happy Pride Month! The LGBTQIA+ community is incredibly diverse, and so are the terms to describe the different identities and experiences related to them. Feeling a bit lost in all the lingo? No worries, our comprehensive glossary of all things queer will sort you out!

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A

Ace / Asexual

Asexuals (“Aces” in short) experience very little or no sexual attraction or desire to engage in sexual activity. Being asexual does not equal being celibate – many ace folks still have sex for variety of reasons. Also, as most identities, asexuality can be fluid, and change a lot throughout one’s life, fluctuating from full asexuality to demisexuality or gray asexuality. Some asexual people are also aromantic, but many are not.

Agender

Someone who does not have a gender – the word literally means “lack of gender.” Many agender people do not identify with any gender on the spectrum, and sometimes also use the term “agender” interchangeably with gender-neutral or genderless.

Androgynous

An androgynous person is someone who has both socially defined masculine and feminine characteristics. Androgyny in terms of fashion or personal grooming has been very popular for years, but the identity transcends more than just looks, involving many other gender-bending behaviors and expressions.

Aro / Aromantic

People who are aromantic experience little to no romantic attraction. While some might also be asexual, many aren’t.

Assigned at birth

This term refers to the gender given to someone by the doctors right after their birth, usually based on how their genitals look. Often, trans and gender-nonconforming people used this term to identify the gender that was inscribed upon them, contrary to the gender (or lack of it) they truly are. Example: assigned female/male at birth.

B

Bear

Coming from gay culture, a bear is a gay man that exudes strong rugged masculinity through their looks – facial and body hair, large size, baldness, muscles,… 

Bicurious

Someone who is exploring their sexual identity and experiments (or wants to experiment) with more than one gender.

Binder/Binding

Binders are used to cover up and literally bind breasts to minimize their size. This practice is used by trans men and gender-nonconforming folks who have breasts but do not want to be read as women.

Biphobia

Prejudice and discrimination against bisexual people. Find out more about it here

Bisexual

Bisexuals are people who experience attraction to more than one gender. Most commonly, it is understood as being attracted to men and women, but nowadays it is also often used as an umbrella term for attraction to all genders.

Bi erasure

Tendency to erase or disprove one’s bisexuality, often based on who the person is in a relationship with currently, or who they dated “more.” 

Butch

Both an adjective and a noun, it is used to describe something or someone who exhibits a masculine identity, and comes from the lesbian community.

C

Cis/Cisgender

A person that identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth.

Cishet

Short name for cis and heterosexual, usually used to describe identity that is opposite of and  in contrast with “queer.”

Coming out

The act of sharing one’s identity with others. Often, it is not a single moment of “announcing” one’s sexuality or gender, but rather a life-long process. Some people also prefer the term “letting in,” to suggest that by sharing this information, you are letting people get closer to you and know the real you.

Cruising

A practice of walking or driving around (cruising around) to find a sexual partner for anonymous hookups. There are specific cruising areas, often in parks, mainly aimed at and used by gay men.

D

Dead name/Deadnaming

Name a trans person used/was referred to by before transitioning/coming out. Deadnaming someone, or referring to them with their old name despite knowing their new name, is highly offensive and hurtful.

Demisexual

Someone who does not experience sexual attraction until they form a strong emotional bond to the person. This identity belongs to the asexual spectrum.

Drag Queen/King

An artist who performs masculinity or femininity, often in an exaggerated way. Wearing a lot of makeup and exquisite outfits, drag queens and kings often perform dance choreography and/or lip sync to songs.

Dyke

Slang term for “lesbian,” originally used as a slur, now reappropriated and embraced by lesbians.

E

Ethical non-monogamy/Consensual non-monogamy

An umbrella term for various non-monogamous types of intimate and/or sexual relationships, such as polyamory, open relationships, solo polyamory, or swinging.

F

Femme

A feminine presenting person. A femme (noun) does not have to be a cis woman to be femme (adjective).

FTM/MTF

Female to male/Male to female, referring to a trans man that has transitioned from a female gender that was assigned to them at birth or vice versa. Many trans people do not like to use or be referred to by these terms.

G

Gay

Someone who experiences attraction to the same gender. This term can be used for people of all genders, but is most often used when referring to homosexual men.

Gender binary

The belief that there are only two genders that are each other’s opposite.

Gender dysphoria

A feeling of discomfort, physical, mental, or both, with one’s assigned gender or how people perceive/disregard their gender, experienced by gender non-conforming people. People can also experience gender euphoria, which is the exact opposite of gender dysphoria: a joyous feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction with one’s gender identity.

Genderfluid

A person whose gender is fluid and changes over time. These changes can happen as often as on a daily basis, or just a few times during one’s lifetime.

Genderqueer

Genderqueer people are people whose gender does not fall within the gender binary, and can either be somewhere along the feminine-masculine spectrum, or exist completely outside of it. Often, the term is used interchangeably with “non-binary.”

H

Heteronormativity / Compulsory heterosexuality

A concept theorized by many queer and feminist academics, suggesting that heterosexuality is seen as the norm in our society. Thus, all people are expected to be heterosexual, and the way our society is organized is based on the needs of cis and heterosexual people.

Homophobia

Prejudice and discrimination against gay people.

I

Intersex

A person who is born with both masculine and feminine physical traits, such as hormones, chromosomes, or genitals. Often, intersex children are assigned a “prefered” gender at birth (decided by, for example, examining and measuring the genitals) and are supplied with hormones or even undergo surgeries to maintain this assigned gender later in life. Many intersex activists rally against these invasive practices, and call for more acceptance of intersex people without the need for hormonal or surgical treatment.

L

Lesbian

Someone who experiences attraction to the same gender, usually referring to cis women – however, trans women and genderqueer people can be lesbians too!

M

MSM

Men who have sex with men, term often used in sexual healthcare aimed at gay men.

Mx.

A gender non-conforming alternative to the gender binary “Mr.” or “Mrs.”

N

Neopronouns

Newly created pronouns often used to refer to gender non-conforming people. Examples: ze/zir, xe/xir, fae/faer

Non-binary

Someone whose gender does not fit the gender binary. Often used simultaneously with “genderqueer.”

O

Outing

To out someone means to reveal their queer identity without their approval. It is an incredibly disrespectful and in many cases also dangerous practice. Never share anyone’s identity if they have not come out yet!

P

Pansexual

A person that is attracted to people regardless of their gender or sex – someone who is attracted to “all” people.

Passing

1) When a trans person is successfully perceived as their gender; 2) When a person of any gender is perceived as different gender, often discussed in terms of privilege and safety: For example, a feminine non-binary person might pass as a cis woman, causing them gender dysphoria but also allowing to move through public space more safely than a visibly trans person that is at a much higher risk of transphobic violence.

Polyamorous/Polyamory

A practice of being (or wanting to be) involved in multiple intimate relationships. Consent of all involved parties is necessary.

Medication used for HIV/AIDS prevention. PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) is used every day by those who have not yet been exposed to the virus. PeP (Post-exposure prophylaxis) is administered after possible exposure, within 72 hours.

Q

QTPOC / QTBIPOC

Acronyms standing for “Queer, Trans People of Color” and “Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous People of Color.”

Queer

An umbrella term encompassing all LGBTQIA+ identities, often used synonymously with the LGBTQIA+ acronym. Many people use the term to indicate that they are not cis and/or heterosexual. “To queer”, also, is often used in academic circles to describe a practice of going against the cisheterosexual norms of how things are usually done, and coming up with alternative and gender- and sex-defying solutions.

Questioning

Someone who is not sure of their gender identity or sexual orientation. The process of discovering one’s identity.

S

Skoliosexual

A person that experiences sexual attraction towards trans and gender non-conforming people.

Solo polyamorous/Solo polyamory

A solo polyam person might have multiple intimate relationships, but their priority is their own independence and autonomy. These people often do not have primary partners or engage in hierarchical relationships.

Stonewall Riots

A spontaneous uprising against police violence against queer people that happened in NYC on June 28, 1969, and laid grounds to Pride as we know it today. Led by the unforgettable queer icons Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, trans sex workers who later opened a shelter for queer youth.

Surgery

A medical surgery that some trans folks undergo as part of their transition. “Bottom surgery” involves a genital operation, whilst “top surgery” is the act of breast reduction or augmentation. Trans women might also undergo “FFS” – facial feminization surgery.

T

T4T

Trans for trans. Term used by trans folks who are exclusively attracted to other trans or gender non-conforming people.

They/them

Gender-neutral pronouns used by many non-binary/genderfluid/genderqueer people. Never assume anyone’s pronouns – always ask!

Trans

Someone whose gender does not correspond with the gender they were assigned at birth.

Transition

The process of transitioning to one’s gender from the gender they were assigned at birth. It can involve changing one’s name, using new pronouns, changing one’s appearance, and so on.

Transphobia

Prejudice and discrimination against trans people. Transphobia is extremely dangerous and violent, and, heart-breakingly, is the main cause behind trans women’s life expectancy being shockingly low (only 35 years).

Twink

A gay slang word for a young, boyish gay man.

Two-spirit/2S

A relatively newly created umbrella term used to describe Indigenous North American people of third-gender, an identity present in Native traditions.

U

Undetectable/U=U

HIV/AIDS specific term – Undetectable = Untransmittable. When people who are HIV positive achieve an undetectable viral load (so small it cannot be recognized in tests) by undergoing antiretroviral therapy (ART), it also means that they no longer transmit the virus to others.

W

WLW

Women loving women. A term used by the lesbian community.

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