Ally/Advocate: anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, whose attitude and behavior is anti-heterosexist and who works toward combating homophobia and heterosexism, both on a personal and institutional level.
Androgyny (also androgynous, bi-gendered, no-gendered): a person who may identify as both or neither of the two culturally defined genders (male/female) and/or expresses and/or presents merged culturally/stereotypically feminine and masculine characteristics, or mainly neutral characteristics. A way of expressing a gender identity or lack thereof.
Asexual: a sexual orientation describing individuals who do not experience sexual attraction, or have no interest in or desire for sex. Sometimes, it is considered a lack of a sexual orientation.
Biological Sex: what is assigned to a person at birth according to their genitals, whether a person is male of female. This allows latitude for those who may have been born with physical characteristics (genitals) that don’t match their chromosomal sex. This is something that is assigned to a person and may not actually coincide with their self-identity.
Bisexual: a person who is emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to both men and women.
Butch: a word used to describe the expression or self-identification of a person according to the cultural/stereotypical masculine characteristics or traits.
Civil Union: a legally recognized union of two people in a partnership. May apply to same sex or opposite sex couples. Allows for similar or equal rights as legally recognized civil marriages.
Coming Out: (to oneself) becoming aware of and accepting that one is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (to others) to publicly declare and affirm one’s sexual or gender identity, sometimes to one person in conversation, sometimes by an act that places one in the public eye. It is not a single event but instead a life-long process. In each new situation a LGBTIQ person must decide whether or not to come out.
Cross-dresser: a person who dresses in the clothing of the opposite gender. This is not about a discomfort with one’s biological sex nor a desire to be the opposite sex but rather an expression of one’s identity beyond societal expectations on dress.
Designated Beneficiary: the person to whom another adult can designate as the person entitled to certain financial protections and decision-making powers in major life events, including estate planning, end-of-life decisions, inheritance, and other protections related to health care and medical emergencies.
Domestic Partner: a partnership (sometimes legal) wherein two people live together and share a life together but are not married or do not have a Civil Union. The level of rights in a Domestic Partnership are not completely and exactly defined and are still evolving.
Drag Queen: mainly male performance artists who dress in feminine clothing and portray female gender stereotypes as part of their performance.
Drag King: mainly female performance artists who dress in masculine clothing and portray male gender stereotypes as part of their performance.
Dyke: originally a derogatory word for a lesbian. It has been re-appropriated by some lesbians as a term of empowerment and assertiveness.
F2M/FTM (Female to Male): used to identify a transgender person who was assigned the sex of woman at birth but lives as a man and/or identifies as a man.
Family of Choice: the people who make up an individual’s social, emotional, and practical support network and often fulfill the functions of blood relations. Some GLBT people may remain “closeted” to their biological relatives. In such cases, it is their partner/significant other and close friends who will be called on in time of illness or personal crisis.
Family of Origin: biological family, or the family with which one was raised. The family of origin may or may not be a part of a GLBT person’s support system.
Femme: a word used to identify a person who expresses &/or presents culturally/stereotypically feminine characteristics.
Gay: a person who is emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to or committed to members of the same sex. Usually used to describe males but may be used to describe females as well.
Gender Dysphoria: an intense continuous discomfort resulting from an individual’s belief in an inappropriateness of their assigned sex at birth and resulting gender role expectations. Also, a clinical psychological diagnosis, which many transgender communities are offended by, but is often required in order for them to receive hormones &/or treatment.
Gender Fluid: a gender identity mixing the gender identities of male and female. A person who identifies as gender fluid may always feel like a mix of the two traditional gender identities, but may feel more of one or another at different times.
Gender Expression: the way in which a person expresses their own Gender Identity.
Gender Identity: one’s psychological sense of oneself as a male or female, or neither. How people perceive their own internal sense of maleness or femaleness or somewhere in between or neither. What a person assigns themselves according to their own identity as male or female or neither or both. Every person has a gender identity.
Gender Identity Disorder: The formal diagnosis given to those who experience gender dysphoria. Listed as a psychological disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Gender Queer: umbrella term for gender identities that are not the traditional male and female identities. People who describe themselves as gender queer may consider themselves as both male and female, neither male or female or may reject the traditional gender identity binary altogether.
Gender Realignment Surgery: permanent surgical refashioning of genitalia to resemble the genitalia of the desired gender. Sought to attain congruence between one's body and one's gender identity.
Gender Roles: the socially constructed and culturally specific behavior and appearance expectations imposed on women (femininity) and men (masculinity).
Hermaphrodite: historical term for what is now termed Intersex.
Heteronormativity: assumption that all people fall into the heterosexual lifestyle or heterosexual paradigm. Includes the assumptions that all people are heterosexual or that all people fall into one of two distinct sexes or gender identities.
Heterosexism: the assumption or belief that everyone is heterosexual, and if not, that they should be. The systematic oppression of lesbian, gay and bisexual persons is directly linked to sexism, including prejudiced attitudes or discriminatory practices against the LGBT community.
Heterosexual Privilege: the privilege that comes inherently to people who do not identify themselves as GLBTIQ.
Homophobia: an irrational fear of LGBTIQ people, homosexuality or any behavior, belief or attitude of self or others which does not conform to rigid sex-role stereotypes. It is the fear that enforces sexism and heterosexism. The extreme behavior of homophobia is violence against gay, lesbian and bisexual identifying people; and disapproval and unreasoning fear toward gays, lesbians, & bisexuals based on myths and cultural heterosexism.
Homosexual: a clinic term the originated in the late 1800’s and was used as diagnosis for a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Sexual orientation has more to do with love and attraction than sex. The word homosexual was removed from the DSM in 1973, but is still used as derogatory term.
Hormone Therapy (also Hormone Replacement Therapy, HRT): administration of hormones to affect the development of secondary sex characteristics of the opposite assigned gender; HRT is a process, possibly life-long, of using hormones to change the internal body chemistry. Androgens (testosterone) are used for female to males and Estrogens are used for male to female.
Internalized Homophobia: an extreme discomfort of own identity or inability to accept own identity as a member if the GLBTIQ community.
Intersex: (Intersexual) an individual born with full or partial genitalia of both sexes or with underdeveloped or ambiguous genitalia. Surgery is common in infancy, although it is more common now to wait for a person’s self identity to unfold before performing surgery, if surgery is performed at all.
In the Closet: to be “in the closet” means to hide one’s gender or sexual identity in order to keep a job, a housing situation, friends or family, or to survive in some other way. Many LGBTIQ individuals are “out” in some situations and “closeted” in others.
Lesbian: a woman who is emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to or committed to other women.
M2F/MTF (Male to Female): used to identify a transgender person who was assigned the sex of man at birth but lives as a woman and/or identifies as a woman.
Men who have Sex with Men (MSM): this term is used when discussing sexual behavior. It is inclusive of all men who participate in this behavior regardless of how they identify their sexual orientation. The acronym MSM is conventionally used in professional literature.
Outing: disclosing someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity to another person or a group of people without the person’s permission.
Pansexual: a term used to describe someone who may be attracted to people of all genders and/or orientations. It is a more inclusive term than bisexual because the term bisexual still reinforces the bigendered system, where a pansexual person may be attracted to those people who do not fit into the bigendered paradigm or who may be transgender, transsexual or intersex.
Partner or Significant Other: primary domestic partner or spousal relationship(s). May also be referred to as “girlfriend/boyfriend,” “lover,” “life partner,” “wife/husband,” “spouse,” or other terms.
Pre-Op (Pre-Operative): transsexual individuals who have not attained sex reassignment surgery, but who desire to and are seeking that as an option. They may or may not “cross-live” full time and may or may not take hormone therapy. They may also seek surgery to change secondary sex characteristics. Not a preferred term.
Post-Op (Post-Operative): transsexual individuals who have attained sex reassignment surgery, &/or other surgeries to change secondary sex characteristics. Not a preferred term.
Queer: a reclaimed term to describe the GLBTIQ community. Can be used as an umbrella term for anyone in the GLBTIQ community, such as a synonym for GLBTIQ. “Still chiefly a slang term of contempt or derision, but lately used by some academics and homosexual activists as a descriptive term without negative connotation (C. Aviv & D. Schneer in American Queer: Then and Now).”
Same Gender Loving (SGL): a term coined by Cleo Manago as descriptor for the gay, lesbian, and bisexual community. Often used as a way to distance African American GLB people from the white dominated GLB community.
Sex Reassignment Surgery/Sexual Realignment Surgery (SRS):
Now called Gender Realignment Surgery.
Sexual Behavior: what a person does sexually. May not be the same as Sexual Orientation. For example, it is safe to say Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) are at higher risk contracting HIV, but NOT that Gay men are at a higher risk for contracting HIV. The latter indicates that the identity is the causal agent for the higher risk when in fact is is the behavior (men having sex with men) that is a higher risk.
Sexual Orientation: to whom a person is physically attracted or who they fall in love with -different than Gender Identity. Every person has a Sexual Orientation.
Stealth: a person who is “stealth” is a fully transitioned person or someone who is passing under a new gender identity. A stealth person lives completely as their new gender and does not reveal their gender past.
Straight: a term originating in the gay community describing heterosexuals and meaning ‘to enter the mainstream,’ or ‘to go straight.’
Transgender: those who defy rigid, bipolar gender constructions, and who express or present a breaking &/or blurring of cultural/stereotypical gender roles. An umbrella term including people who do not feel they match their birth-assigned sex, those who feel their assigned sex is an incomplete description of themselves, or those who fall between or move between the two rigid gender identities or who do not conform to either of the rigid gender identities.
Transexual: an individual who does not identify with the biological sex that was assigned them at birth, but rather identifies with the opposite biological sex.
Transitioning: the process or journey of changing genders.
Transphobia: an irrational fear of transsexual or transgender people.
Transvestite: a man or woman who enjoys wearing clothes of and appearing as the other gender with reasons ranging from a need to express a feminine or masculine side to attainment of erotic/sexual/fetish gratification. Many transvestites are heterosexual, even though the use of transvestitism in the GLBTIQ culture is well documented.
Two Spirited: a term used to describe individuals in the Native American and Canadian First Nations cultures who portrayed both gender roles in a variety of ways.
Women who have Sex with Women (WSW): the term used when describing sexual behavior. It is inclusive of all women who participate in this behavior regardless of how they identify their sexual orientation. The acronym WSW is conventionally used in professional literature.
*LAMBDA Community Center - www.lambdacenter.org - 212 S. Manson St., Fort Collins, CO 80521 - (970) 221-3247