Definitions Common to the LGBTQ Community
This list of definitions is by no means complete. The whole LGBTQ community adds new words on a regular basis. This LGBTQ “dictionary” is far from inclusive. If you do not find a definition, please send me an email. I will add them to this list.
Advocate: — A person acting on behalf of a marginalized group. They may provide education, promote social equity, and confront intolerance.
Agender: — This term encompasses many other genders. Agender is people who do not feel a gender or who feel their gender is neutral. Many agender people are outside the binary (trans*). Agender is a newer term. It is best, as with anyone’s gender to ask what gender they are or let them tell you.
AFAB and AMAB: — Acronyms meaning “assigned female/male at birth”. (also designated female/male at birth or female/male assigned at birth). No one gets to pick their assigned sex at birth. Trans* people prefer this term over biological male/female. There are other derogatory designations also.
Affectional orientation: — Politically correct phrase used instead of sexual orientation.
Ally: — Cisgender and heterosexual people who advocate and support the trans* community. A person should not self-identify as an ally but show that they are one through their actions.
Allyship: — Building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability with marginalized individuals and/or groups.
Androgyne/Androgynous/Androgyny: — A person with masculine and feminine physical traits. Centered in the gender spectrum.
Assigned sex at birth (ASAB): — Assumed sex at birth a person is what sex a doctor claims you are. This term applies to intersex babies but applied to trans* people also.
Bias incident: — An act intended to harm and/or harass a person based on their demographic background(s). For trans* people this is because of their gender variance usually. For some it also applies to other marginalized demographics that apply to them.
Bigender: — This refers to people who identify as two genders. A person can also identify as many genders (two or more genders). This does not include two-spirit. Two-spirit is a term used by native Americans and First Nations. See Two-spirit.
Binary: — Describes the genders female/male or woman/man. Binary genders are the only ones recognized by most of society as legitimate.
Body Image: — How a person feels, acts, and thinks about their body. Communities, families, cultures, media, and our perceptions form our attitudes about body image.
Bottom Surgery: — Affirming surgery. Also known as Gender Confirmation Surgery (GCS).
Butch: — This is an identity that tends to lean toward masculine. This term is not limited to masculine lesbians. Associated with masculine queer/lesbian women, it may describe a distinct gender identity and/or expression. This does not imply they identify as a female.
Cisgender: — Relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex. A cisgender person is not transgender. Cisgender is not a slur. It differentiates between gender variant and non-gender variant people. Cisgendered is not a word.
Cisnormativity: — A belief in only the gender binary male/female. This is an assumption that only cisgender is right and trans* is wrong. This is a way to provide superiority for cisgender people over trans* people.
Cissexism/genderism: — A system of discrimination, harassment, and exclusion. This oppresses those whose gender and/or gender expression falls outside of cisnormativity. This also normalizes the belief that sex, and gender are the same thing.
Closeted: — A trans* — person who knows they are trans* but has not come out yet. They may wait for their body characteristics to start to change in an attempt to pass.
Cross-Dressing (also crossdressing): — The act of dressing and presenting as a different gender. Transvestite, a pejorative word, is an old term for cross dressing. Drag performers are cross-dressing performers. They take on stylized, exaggerated gender presentations. They do not identify as a crossdresser. Cross dressing is not tied to a person’s gender. A person who has transitioned is not a cross dresser. Please do not address them as such.
Demigender: — A partial gender identity. They may not feel male or female. Demigender people are non-binary.
Designated Sex at Birth (DSAB): — The interpreted sex at birth. This is the same as assigned sex at birth. Ninety-eight percent of the population have sex characteristics identifiable as male or female. The other two percent may have ambiguous genitalia, such as intersex people. (These percentages are approximate)
Discrimination: — Unjust or prejudicial treatment of marginalized people. Examples is not allowing trans* people to use the appropriate bathroom.
Drag: — Exaggerated, theatrical, and/or performative gender presentation. Used most to refer to cross-dressing performers (drag queens and drag kings). Anyone of any gender can do drag. This has nothing to do with a person’s sex assigned at birth, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
Femme: — This is an identity that tends to lean toward feminine. This term is not limited to feminine lesbians. It can imply a woman to a woman to “femme up”, meaning to woman up. Although associated with feminine queer/lesbian women, it’s used by many to describe a distinct gender identity and/or expression. It does not imply that one also identifies as a female.
Fluid: — When applied to gender, a person whose gender moves around and is not static.
FTM (female to male): — See trans woman/trans man.
Gender: — Gender is who you feel you are in your brain. A person’s primary sex characteristics used to determine gender. They now find that it is how a person feels and not tied to a person’s sex. This determination is hard for some people to accept.
Gender Binary: — The system where people view gender as only male or female. This system is oppressive to anyone who defies their sex assigned at birth.
Gender Dysphoria: — Anxiety and/or discomfort of one’s sex assigned at birth.
Gender Expansive: — A person who goes outside the boundary of the societal norm for gender. \Anything beyond male and female. A synonym of gender variant.
Gender Expression: — the way in which a person expresses their gender identity. Usually through their appearance, dress, and behavior. Gender expression is not tied to your gender. Gender expression is expressing any gender at any time. Most trans* people use gender expression to match their gender identity. Someone with a gender nonconforming gender expression may or may not be transgender.
Gender Fluid: — A changing or “fluid” gender identity. See fluid.
Gender Identity: — A person’s internal sense of self. Everyone has a gender identity. Trans* peoples sex assigned at birth and their gender identity are not the same.
Gender Identity Disorder/GID: — DSM-III and DSM-IV diagnosis identifying transgender and other gender-nonconforming people. This term views transgender as a disorder. It may be offensive by some because of what it implies. The American Psychology Association replace this term with “gender dysphoria” in the DSM-5. Even though they replaced GID with gender dysphoria, the stigma remains.
Gender-Neutral: — All-inclusive gender quality such as gender-neutral bathrooms.
Gender Non-Conforming (GNC): — Gender identity and expression are not aligned with societies norms.
Gender-Normative: — When a person’s gender identity and presentation align with societies norms. Opposite of gender non-conforming.
Gender Outlaw: — Person who refuses to live by societies gender normative attitude.
Gender Presentation: — Outward gender expression of one’s internal sense of gender. Synonym of gender expression.
Genderqueer: — A person does not identify in the gender binary. Genderqueer encompasses many of the other gender identities. Those who do not like labels may use this term. Binary and non-binary people may use this term. Genderqueer is neither trans* or non-binary.
Gender Role: — A role or behavior learned by a person as appropriate to their gender. Usually determined by the prevailing cultural norms.
Gender Variant: — Gender variant is a behavior or gender expression by an individual not matching societal norms. When a person’s gender identity and expression are no longer the gender binary. Synonym of gender expansive.
Hermaphrodite: — Old word for intersex. This is a derogatory word.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): — The use of hormones to alter secondary sex characteristics. Not all trans* people take hormones.
Internalized Oppression: — Members of a targeted group get socialized into believing oppressive beliefs they belong to. Many face the stereotypes and prejudices of the prejudices from an early age. It is not hard to see how internalized oppression can take a person on.
Intersex: — Identifying those whose genitalia, chromosomes, and/or hormones do not match normal combinations. Their genitalia may be ambiguous. They may have androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) and many other differences. Doctors perform surgeries to try to match the ambiguous genitalia to a percieved gender. This surgery is mutilation of a baby who has no input in this decision. There are intersex people who identify as trans*. Intersex is about as common in society as red heads. (1.4 percent)
In the Closet: — When a person has realization of their identity but have not revealed it to anyone. Same as closeted.
MTF (male to female): — See trans woman/trans man.
Misgender: — Attributing a gender to someone who is not the gender. Using the wrong pronouns.
MOGAI: — An acronym standing for “marginalized orientations, gender alignments, and intersex”. (LGBTQ replacement)
Mx.: — Gender neutral salutation used in place of Ms., Mrs., or Mr.
Neutrois: — Non-binary gender identity. Neutrois falls under the genderqueer or transgender umbrellas.
Nonbinary (Also Non-Binary): — Umbrella term for all genders other than female/male or woman/man. Not all nonbinary people identify as trans and not all trans people identify as nonbinary.
Omnigender: — Possessing all genders. Used to negate the thinking of only two genders. Synonym for pangender and polygender.
Oppression: — When one group exploits another for its benefit.
Packing: — Wearing a penile prosthesis.
Pangender: — Many gender identities, expressions, and presentations. Synonym for omnigender and polygender.
Passing/blending/assimilating: — Ability of a trans* person to pass as their identified gender. For most trans* people, this would be their goal. For many, though, this is not reality.
Polygender: — Many gender identities, expressions, and presentations. Synonym for omnigender and pangender.
Pronouns: — Words to identify a person in the third person. In English and some other languages, these are usually tied to gender.
Queer: — General term for gender and sexual minorities who are not cisgender and/or heterosexual. The word queer is still used as a hateful slur. Some in the LGBTQ have reclaimed queer to identify themselves.
Questioning: — The process of exploring gender expression and identity. This term is also used as an identity for LGBTQ people.
Sex: — Either of the two main categories (male and female) into which we divide humans based on their reproductive functions. (sex characteristics) Also see: sex assigned at birth.
Sex Assigned at Birth (SAAB): The biological sex a doctor assigns a person at birth. This is not their gender. The doctor makes the determination by physical anatomy at birth, and/or karyotyping.
Stealth: — To not identify as transgender in all or almost all social situations. The ability to pass as your gender is being stealth.
Stereotype: — A fixed assumption applied to all within a group. i.e. All gay people have HIV. All trans people are confused. This does not allow for individuality.
T: — Short for testosterone.
Third Gender: — Anything outside of the gender binary.
Top Surgery: — For trans* men, this is the removal of the breasts for more congruency in their gender. For trans* women, this is breast enhancement.
Trans: — Prefix or adjective used as an abbreviation of transgender. Trans comes from the Latin word meaning “across from” or “on the other side of”.
Trans Woman/Trans Man: — Trans woman describes someone assigned male at birth identifying as female. Trans man describes someone assigned female at birth identifying as male. This individual may or may not identify as trans. Many trans individuals prefer a space between trans and woman/man. Other do not. Often it is good to use woman or man.
Trans*: — Outdated term popularized in the early 2010’s. It signifies an array of identities under the trans umbrella. It became problematized online due to improper usage. I use it in the book for ease of writing.
Transgender/Trans/Trans*: — Umbrella term for people whose gender identity differs from sex assigned at birth. The word transgender is not tied to gender expression or affectional orientation.
Transition: — The process of becoming a certain gender identity through your gender expression. The process of changing from one gender to another. A person’s transition can even be not doing anything. Social transition is usually the least many trans* people do.
Transmisogyny: — Coined by author Julia Serano to name the intersections of transphobia and misogyny and how a person experiences them as a form of oppression to trans* females.
Transphobia: — Systemic violence against trans people. Associated with attitudes such as fear, discomfort, distrust, or disdain. This word Like homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, etc.
Transsexual: — A term that may be pejorative. The use of transsexual predates the use of transgender to identify trans* people. It identifies trans* people who are or have gone through either/or medical or surgical procedures. Unlike transgender/trans/trans*, transsexual is not an umbrella term. Many transgender people do not identify as transsexual. Some consider this term derogatory while others while undergoing medical or surgical procedures. It is best not to use this term to identify a person as trans* unless they have asked you to.
Sometimes trans women identify as male-to-female (also MTF, M2F, or trans feminine). Sometimes trans men identify as female-to-male (also FTM, F2M, or trans masculine). Please ask before identifying someone. Use the term and pronouns preferred by the individual. MTF and FTM may be offensive to some.
Two Spirit: — An umbrella term indexing various indigenous gender identities in North America. Two-spirit may also apply to their affectional orientation.
Vaginoplasty; Phalloplasty; Metoidioplasty: — Surgical realignment providing a trans* person’s gender and primary sex characteristics to be more congruent. There is a small minority of the trans* community who opts for this surgery. There are many reasons for not opting, including cost. The following terms are inaccurate, offensive, or outdated: sex change operation, gender reassignment surgery, gender confirmation surgery, and sex reassignment surgery.