Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning +
Acronyms & Definitions
Definitions and acronyms are emerging and evolving as society increases understanding regarding gender identity and sexual orientation. Web pages consulted include: Trevor Project, Human Rights Campaign Foundation, Outright International, MyPronouns.org and The Center
LGBTQIA Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual and/or Ally.
LGBTIQAPD Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer and/or Questioning, Asexual and/or Ally, Pansexual, and Demi-sexual.
LGBTQ+ or LGBTIQA+ Adding a “+” to the acronym is an acknowledgement that there are non-cisgender and non-straight identities that are not included in the acronym.
SOGI Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Ally – People who identify as cisgender and straight, and believe in social and legal equality for LGBTQ+ people are allies.
Asexual (or ace): Used to describe people who experience little to no sexual attraction. Many asexual people desire romantic relationships, and romantic orientations are a way for aces to communicate who they prefer to date or form relationships with.
Binary System: A binary system is something made up of two opposing parts. Gender (man/woman) and sex (male/female) are examples of binary systems.
Bisexual: Used to describe people who have the capacity to form attraction and/or relationships to more than one gender.
Cisgender: Used to describe people whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth.
Demisexual – Often referred to as “Demi”, this is a term used to describe someone who can only experience sexual attraction after an emotional bond has been formed. This bond does not have to be romantic in nature.
Gay: In the past, only men who are attracted to men have used the word “gay.” Now, it is common for “gay” to be used by anyone who is attracted to the same sex or gender.
Gender: An idea created by society (A.K.A. a social construct) that tells us what certain genders are “supposed” to be like, based on a group of emotional, behavioral, and cultural characteristics (like how we express our feelings or how we dress).
Gender Binary: A way of seeing gender as two distinct and opposite groups — girl and boy. This idea doesn’t include all the ways we can have a gender identity and express our gender.
Gender Expression: The way in which we present ourselves, which can include physical appearance, clothing, hairstyles, and behavior.
Gender Identity: Our internal understanding and experience of our own gender. Each person’s experience with their gender identity is unique and personal.
Heterosexual (straight) - Describes a person who is attracted only or almost only to the "other" gender.
Homosexual (gay, lesbian, queer) - Describes a person attracted only or almost only to those of the same gender.
Intersex: Used to describe people who are born with any of several variations in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals that can’t be classified as typically male or female.
Lesbian: A woman who is predominantly attracted to other women. Some women prefer the term “gay” – it’s all up to you and what fits your identity best.
Nonbinary: Used to describe people who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as outside of the male-female gender binary. Many other words for identities outside the traditional categories of man and woman may be used, such as genderfluid, genderqueer, polygender, bigender, demi gender, or agender. These identities, while similar, are not necessarily interchangeable or synonymous.
Pansexual: Used to describe people who are attracted to people of any gender or to people regardless of their gender. Some people may use the words bisexual and pansexual interchangeably, and others use only one word exclusively to describe themselves.
Preferred Gender Pronouns: These are often used during introductions to indicate the way someone would like to be referred to (e.g. they/their/them, he/his, she/her/hers, ze/zir/zirs or ze/hir/hirs). More about pronouns.
Queer: An adjective used by some people whose sexual orientation is not exclusively heterosexual. Typically, for those who identify as queer, the terms lesbian, gay, and bisexual are perceived to be too limiting and/or fraught with cultural connotations they feel don’t apply to them. Some people may use queer, or genderqueer, to describe their gender identity and/or gender expression. Once considered a pejorative term, queer has been reclaimed by some LGBTQ people to describe themselves; however, it is not a universally accepted term even within the LGBTQ community.
Questioning: Used to describe a person who may be processing or questioning their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Sexual Orientation: A person’s physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction to another person. Everyone has a sexual orientation.
Straight (Heterosexual) - Describes a person who is attracted only or almost only to the "other" gender.
Transgender (or Trans): An umbrella term used to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. Many transgender people will transition to align their gender expression with their gender identity, however, you do not have to transition in order to be transgender.
Transitioning: The social, legal, and/or medical process a trans person may go through to make their gender identity fit their gender expression, presentation, or sex. This word means many different things to different people, and a person doesn’t have to experience all or any of these common transitioning elements to identify as their true gender.
Two-Spirit: A term created by First Nations/Native American/Indigenous peoples whose sexual orientation and/or gender/sex exists in ways that challenge colonial constructions of a gender binary. This term should not be appropriated to describe people who are not First Nations/Native American/Indigenous members.