Here are some key terms that relate to the LGBTQ community. Keep in mind that there are many ways to define these common words and phrases. Remember, the only person who has the power to label you, is YOU!
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.
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 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.
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.
Queer: An umbrella term used to refer to an identity that expands outside of heterosexuality. Due to its history as a reclaimed slur and use in political movements, queer still holds political significance.
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.
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.
QUICK RESOURCE GUIDE
Do you want to read more about a certain topic? Scroll through our list of links to find the resource you’re looking for.
- GLBT National Youth Talkline: 1-800-246-PRIDE (7743)
Family and Friends
Gay and Lesbian
- https://rainn.org/ or call 1-800-656-HOPE
I Have A Crush
Out and Proud
LGBTQ and Religion
- National Abortion Federation Hotline: 1-800-772-9100
Trans and Gender Identity
Through The Trevor Support Center you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project does not review or ensure the accuracy of the content on other sites.