Loyola University Maryland

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LGBTQ Terms and Definitions

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Below is an introductory list of LGBTQ terms and definitions. This list does not encompass the wide range of identities and terms that are used within LGBTQ communities and/or spaces. 

LGBTQQIP2SA: any combination of letters attempting to represent all the identities in the queer community, this near-exhaustive one (but not exhaustive) represents Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Pansexual, Two-Spirited, and Asexual

Ally: A person who supports and respects sexual diversity, acts accordingly to challenge homophobic and heterosexist remarks and behaviors, and is willing to explore and understand these forms of bias within themselves

Asexual: A person who generally does not experience sexual attraction (or very little) to any group of people. May still have romantic, emotional, affectionate, or relational attractions towards others.

Binary Gender: A sociological construct or "traditional" view of gender limited to "man" and "woman"defined by a collection of characteristics that are culturally associated with male-ness (masculinity) or female-ness (femininity). 

Binary Sex: A sociological construct or "traditional" view of sex limited to "male" and "female".

Biological Sex: The physical anatomy and gendered hormones one is born with, generally described as male, female, or intersex

Bisexual: A person who experiences sexual, romantic, and/or physical attraction to people of their own biological sex, as well as, another biological sex.

Biphobia: Fear of, hatred of, or discomfort with people who are bisexual.

Cisgender: A term for a person whose gender identity and gender expression, generally matches with that assigned for their biological sex.

Cis-man: a person who identifies as a man, presents himself as masculine and is biologically male

Cis-woman: a person who identifies as a woman, presents herself as feminine and is biologically female

Closeted: A person who is keeping their LGBTQ sexuality or gender identity hidden from many (or any) people. At times, being in the closet also means not wanting to admit one’s sexual identity to oneself.

Coming Out: The process of revealing your sexuality or gender identity to individuals in your life.This is a lifelong and sometimes daily process.

Fluid(ity): Generally with another term attached, like gender-fluid or fluid-sexuality, fluid(ity) describes an identity that is a fluctuating mix of the options available.

FTM/MTF: A person who has undergone medical treatments to change their biological sex (Female TMale, or Male TFemale), often times to align it with their gender identity.

Gay: A term used to describe a man who is emotionally, romantically, sexually, or affectionately attracted to other men. At times, “gay” is used to refer to all people, regardless of sex, who have their primary sexual and or romantic attractions to people of the same sex. 

Gender Expression: the external display of gender, through a combination of dress, demeanor, social behavior, and other factors, generally measured on a scale of masculinity and femininity

Gender Identity: How one identifies/labels oneself – as a man, a woman, trans*, genderqueer, or otherwise

Genderqueer: A gender identity that rejects the notion that all genders can be described on the masculine/feminine binary.

Heterosexism: Norms and behaviors that result from the assumption that all people are or should be heterosexual. This system of oppression assumes that heterosexuality is inherently normal and superior and negates LBGTQ peoples’ lives and relationships.

Heterosexual: A medical definition for a person who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to members of the opposite biological sex. Often called a straight person.

Homophobia: The fear of, hatred of, or discomfort with people who identify in the LGBTQ spectrum. Homophobic reactions often lead to intolerance, bigotry, and violence against anyone not acting within socio-cultural norms of heterosexuality. 

Homosexual: A medical definition for a person who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to members of the same biological sex. 

Intersex: A medical definition for a person born with chromosomes, genitalia, and/or secondary sexual characteristics that are inconsistent with the biological understanding of a male or female body. 

Lesbian: A term used to describe a woman who is emotionally, romantically, sexually, or affectionately attracted to other women.

Pansexual: A person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction to others regardless of gender identities/expressions or biological property.

Outing: When someone reveals another person’s sexuality or gender identity to an individual or group without the person’s consent or approval

Queer: Term describing people who have a non-normative gender identity, sexual orientation, or sexual anatomy -- can include lesbians, gay men, bisexual people, transgender people, and a host of other identities. Since the term is sometimes used as a slur, it has a negative connotation for some LGBT people; nevertheless, others have reclaimed it and feel comfortable using it to describe themselves.

Questioning: The process of exploring one’s own sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Sexual Identity: The type of sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction one feels for others.

Transgender: A blanket term used to describe all individuals whose gender identity does not align their biological sex.

Transphobia: Fear of, hatred of, or discomfort with people who are transgender or otherwise gender non-normative.

Transitioning: A term used to describe the process of moving from one sex/gender to another.

Trans-man: A person who was assigned a female sex at birth, but identifies as a man.

Trans-woman: A person who was assigned a male sex at birth, but identifies as a woman.

Two-Spirit: Contemporary term chosen by Native American/Indigenous people who identify with a third gender, implying a masculine and a feminine spirit in one body.