Gender, Sex, & LGBTQ Terminology

Below is an ongoing list of terminology including definitions of general terms, sex or sexual orientation related terms, and terms about gender identity or gender expression. This is not an exhaustive list as new terms are being added regularly. Some terms and definitions may be described differently than other sources or how people identify with the terms. If you have a term you’d liked to suggest, or to edit a pre-existing term, please contact us.

ALLY

A person that supports the LGBTQ2S communities through action, challenges discrimination and oppression, and explores their own biases, however they are not a part of the LGBTQ2S+ communities. Being an Ally is not about an identity, it is about the actions taken to support others.

CISSEXISM & CISNORMATIVE

The belief that the binary construct of gender (man and woman) is assumed to be the normal, natural, and preferred model of gender identity. This binary construct excludes people who are trans*, non-binary, or other gender identities.

COMING OUT
  • Disclosure of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity to others. For example, “I just came out to my parents.” “Coming out” is not a single event. In every new social situation and with every new acquaintance, a decision must be made about whether or not to disclose one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. A queer or trans person person may never be “out of the closet” in all parts of life.

 

  • “Outing” someone is to disclose someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity to another person without their clear and explicit consent. You should never out someone, as it is a violation of their trust and respect.

 

  • People who have recognized their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and who have not come out, are said to be “in the closet.” This means a person is choosing to refrain from identifying to people, whether it be for comfort, economic, political, or other reasons.
HETEROSEXISM & HETERONORMATIVE
  • The pervasive assumption (expressed overtly and/or covertly) that everyone is or should be heterosexual and that heterosexuality is the only normal, natural sexual orientation.

 

  • Heterosexism excludes the needs, concerns, and life experiences of lesbian, gay and bisexual people, while it gives advantages to heterosexual people. It is a subtle form of oppression that reinforces silence and invisibility for LGBTQ people.
HOMOPHOBIA/BIPHOBIA/TRANSPHOBIA

Irrational fear, dislike or hatred of queer/ bisexual/ transpeople.

  • Often exhibited as prejudice, discrimination, jokes, name-calling, exclusion, harassment, and acts of violence against queer or trans people.
LGBTIQQ2SAP

Acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, queer, questioning, two-spirit, asexual, and pansexual.

 

  • “LGBTQ+,” or “2SLGBTQ+” are some abbreviated and more commonly used acronyms.
  • There is no right or official way to write out an acronym for queer and trans communities.
QUEER

An umbrella term that encompasses a broad range of sexual orientations other than straight or heterosexual.

 

  • Previously a derogatory term, this word has been reclaimed and is used proudly by many non-heterosexual people.

 

  • “Queer” can also express political and cultural statements and attitudes.
QUESTIONING

A person who is questioning their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

 

  • Some people go through multiple questioning stages.
ASEXUAL

A person who is not motivated by a sexual desire when attracted to other persons.
• An asexual person may still engage in sexual behaviour.
• An asexual person may be romantically attracted to other people.

SEX ASSIGNED AT BIRTH

Our sex assigned at birth is how we are defined as having either a female, male, or intersex body. It describes our internal and external bodies — including our sexual and reproductive anatomy, our genetic makeup, and our hormones.

BISEXUAL

A person who is sexually attracted to two or more genders, such as being attracted to both men and women.
• Bisexual people are not necessarily attracted equally to two genders, and not always attracted to both genders at the same time.

DEMISEXUAL

A sexual orientation where someone feels a sexual attraction to people only after they’ve established an emotional connection.

GAY

A term for people whose orientation is attracted to someone of the same gender. This identity can be used by anyone who connects with it.

HETEROSEXUAL OR STRAIGHT

A term for people whose orientation is attracted to people of another gender, such as a man attracted to women.

HOMOSEXUAL

Historically, this term has been associated with a medical model of care, signifying that gay people were mentally ill. This has resulted it the term being used in a derogatory manner and increased marginalization. This term is not recommended to be used.

INTERSEX

An intersex person has either a biological, hormonal, or chromosomal makeup other than the binary male and female sex categories.
• Intersex babies have often been subjected to surgery and assignment to male or female sex based on medical opinion.
• Intersex people may consider themselves members of the trans community.

LESBIAN

A woman whose orientation is attracted to other women.

MSM/WSW

Men who have sex with men / women who have sex with women. A person who has sex with a person of the same sex or gender.
• These terms relates specifically to sexual behaviour, which may not always be the same as sexual orientation.

PANSEXUAL

A term for people whose orientation is attracted to another person regardless of their physical body or gender identity. Think of the concept as attracted to hearts, not parts or gender identity.

ROMANTIC ORIENTATION

A person’s romantic attraction to other people based on their gender.
• A person’s romantic orientation may be the same or different than their sexual orientation.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION

A person’s sexual attraction to other people based on their gender.

SEXUAL PREFERENCE

The types of sexual intercourse, stimulation, and gratification one likes to receive and participate in.
• Generally mistakenly interchanged with “sexual orientation,” creating an illusion that one has a choice (or “preference”) in who they are attracted to.

CISGENDER

People who feel comfortable with the gender identity they were assigned at birth.
• Identifying yourself as cisgender helps to raise awareness and acknowledges the issues trans and non-cisgender people endure. To identify gender as a cis person, you can do so as either cisgender, cisman, or ciswoman.

DRAG QUEEN, DRAG KING

A person who performs as often as an exaggerated version of another gender for fun and entertainment. A man who cross-dresses is may be called a “Drag Queen”, and women who cross-dresses may be called a “Drag King.”
• Though drag is often associated with gay or trans communities, assumptions should not be made as to the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity in relation to their drag performances.

GENDERQUEER/GENDERFLUID

A person who has a fluid sense of their gender identity and/or gender expression.

GENDER EXPRESSION

How someone expresses their gender identity, whether they express themselves in a masculine, feminine, neutral, or mix set of ways.
• Gender Expression and Gender Identity is not always the same. For example, two people can identify as women, but one woman might express herself in more masculine ways, and the other woman may express herself in more feminine ways.

GENDER IDENTITY

A person’s identity as being non-binary, woman, man, a mix of identities, or another genders.

GENDER ROLE

Characteristics attached to culturally defined notions of femininity and masculinity, and the public expression of these characteristics.
• Over time, gender roles are starting to blend and become less defined.

TRANS

An umbrella term that people whose may not be comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth. Some identities that may fall under the trans umbrella include transgender, transsexual, intersex, non-binary, two-spirit, gender variant, genderqueer, gender diverse, and more.
• Some people who connect with a trans experience may not identify as trans.
• Trans people may identify as gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual or otherwise. It is important to remember that gender identity and sexual orientation are interdependent.

TWO-SPIRIT

Two Spirit is an English term created and used by some Indigenous people to represent the specific experience passed down by Indigenous Two Spirit teachings.

Two Spirit is a complex term to define. It is often used as an umbrella term. Some examples of how it fits with people’s identities include: identifying with a connection to multiple spirits, being transgender or gender variant, being a part of the LGBQ spectrum, and more.

There are hundreds of tribe specific identities that fall under the Two Spirit umbrella and predate colonialism. Due to colonialism a lot of these individuals and respected identities have been forgotten.