Definitions

AFAB – stands for ‘assigned female at birth.’

Agender – someone who identifies themselves as being without gender.

Ally – someone who is supportive of and advocates for the LGBTQ community, but does not identify as LGBTQ+.

AMAB – stands for ‘assigned male at birth.’

Asexual – someone who does not experience sexual attraction.

Assigned sex – at birth, medical professionals assign either ‘male’ or ‘female’ identities to babies based on the development of their genitals. This does not always describe an individual’s gender identity or even their later physical appearance.

Bisexual – someone who is attracted to both masculine & feminine individuals.

Cisgender – describes someone whose gender identity matches the gender assigned to them at birth. Commonly abbreviated to ‘cis.’

Closeted – someone who is part of the LGBTQ+ community, but not open about that identity to everyone.

Coming out – the process of someone becoming open about their LGBTQ+ identity.

Conversion therapy – also known as ‘reparative therapy,’ this is an extremely harmful practice conducted by therapists and non-medical personnel that attempts to make an LGBTQ+ person “straight.” More information about the harm caused by conversion therapy can be found here on the Human Rights Campaign’s website.

Gay – describes a man who is exclusively attracted to other men. Note: within the LGBT community, people of various identities may also refer to themselves as ‘gay,’ but don’t assume that everyone uses that word to describe themselves.

Gender binary – the false idea that sex and gender identity only exist on a strict male/female spectrum.

Gender dysphoria – discomfort, sometimes extreme, with the difference between the characteristics of one’s assigned gender and one’s internal gender identity.

Gender identity – someone’s internal, personal conception of their gender.

Gender non-conforming – someone whose gender presentation does not match typical expectations for that gender.

Gender presentation – this refers to the mix of physical traits, clothing, and mannerisms that is traditionally associated with male or female genders. Gender presentation is separate from gender identity and sexual orientation.

Genderfluid – someone whose gender identity and presentation is variable and does not identify on a gender binary.

Heterosexism – refers to the extremely common idea that everyone is straight and cisgender, and the resulting bias and intolerance that results from this belief.

Heterosexual – a person who is solely attracted to the opposite sex to their own.

Homophobia – having fear and prejudice towards LGBTQ+ people.

Homosexual – an outdated word used to describe gays, lesbians, and bisexuals that is tied to the assumption that being LGBTQ+ is abnormal and wrong. This is considered to be an offensive term by the community.

Hormone replacement therapy – often abbreviated as ‘HRT.’ This refers to the hormones (estrogen or testosterone) that trans people take to match their physical gender presentation with their internal gender identity.

Internalized homophobia – when an LGBTQ+ person has absorbed homophobic attitudes and directs those against themselves and others.

Intersex – someone who possesses physical sex characteristics that do not fit typical definitions for male or female bodies. Although it’s difficult to track, current research approximates 1 in 2000 births are intersex.

Lesbian – a woman who is exclusively attracted to other women.

Neopronouns – pronouns created to lack a specific gender. Many were developed in the 70s and 80s, such as e/em/eir.

Non-binary – people who do not fit into the strict male/female gender binary and do not strongly identify as masculine or feminine. Non-binary people are usually considered transgender.

Out – the state of being open about one’s LGBTQ+ identity.

Outing – revealing that someone is LGBTQ+ without their permission. This can be extremely harmful to the person and is always a severe violation of privacy.

Pansexual – essentially means the same thing as bisexual, but is a newer, more trans-inclusive term that deemphasizes gender.

Passing – someone who ‘passes’ identifies as LGBTQ+ but most people assume them to be straight and/or cisgender.

Queer – a divisive word that is sometimes used by LGBTQ+ people to describe themselves, but is still generally considered a slur. The word is often used as a catch-all phrase to describe someone who is not straight and/or cis and was first reclaimed by LGBTQ+ activist movements in the 70s.

Questioning – someone who is questioning what their sexual orientation or gender identity is.

Sexual orientation – describes the gender(s) someone is attracted to, romantically and/or sexually.

Singular ‘they’ – used by many non-binary individuals as a personal pronoun.

Straight – a person who is solely attracted to the opposite sex to their own.

Trans man – a person assigned female at birth who identifies as a man.

Trans woman– a person assigned male at birth who identifies as a woman.

Transgender – someone whose gender is different from the gender assigned at birth. Often shortened to ‘trans.’

Transition – the process of affirming gender identity. This may involve changes in gender expression, taking hormones, or surgeries.