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LGBTQIA Dictionary

Have a question about Gender Expression?

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A person who works to end intolerance, educate others, and supports social equity for a marginalized group.


A person with no/very little connection to the traditional system of gender, and/or someone who sees themselves as existing without gender. Sometimes called gender neutral.


A (typically straight and/or cisgender) person who supports and respects members of the LGBTQ community.


A gender expression that has elements of both masculinity and femininity.


A person who has no sexual feelings or desires.

Biological Sex/Sex

A label assigned at birth by a doctor, based on genitals and chromosomes.


A person who is attracted to people, regardless of their gender and/or sex. Bisexuality is now regarded as a valid, independent sexual identity.


A person whose gender identity, gender expression and biological sex all align. E.g. man, masculine, male.


Little or no capacity to experience sexual attraction until a strong romantic or emotional connection is formed with another individual, most often within a romantic relationship.

FtM / F2M; MtF / M2F

Female-to-male transgender or transsexual person; male-to-female transgender or transsexual person.


A common and acceptable term for male homosexuals. It is often used for both genders, as well as for the gay community in general.

Gender Binary

The idea that there are only two genders and that every person is one of those two.

Gender Expression

The ways you express gender through your actions, dress and demeanor and how those presentations are interpreted based on gender norms. Generally measured on a scale of masculinity and femininity. It is important that we recognize that individuals don’t always express their masculinity/femininity in a manner that is consistent with their biological sex.

Gender Identity

How do you feel inside? How do you choose to express yourself in your behavior and personal experience? This is your gender identity. There are more than just two types of gender: Gender diverse, Gender creative, gender non-confirming, and gender queer are just a few terms you can use to describe your identity.

The sense that one is a man or a woman. How you, for yourself, define your gender based on how much you align (or don’t align) with what you understand to be ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’.

Gender Non-Conforming

A gender identity label that indicates a person who identifies outside of the gender binary.


Is a social and cultural construct of what constitutes being a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’. Based on the characteristics that a society or culture perceives to be ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’.


A gender identity label often used by people who do not identify with the binary of man/woman; or as an umbrella term for many gender non-conforming or non-binary identities (e.g., agender, bigender, genderfluid).


An outdated medical term used to describe someone who is ‘intersex’.


A person who is emotionally and/or sexually attracted to persons of the opposite sex. Also known as ‘straight’.


Used appropriately, it refers to affectional and/or sexual behavior between people of the same sex. Also known as ‘gay’.


People born with reproductive organs, genitalia and/or sex chromosomes that are not exclusively male nor female, or is considered (by the medical establishment and heterosexist society) to be biologically “ambiguous”.


One of the most common and most preferred terms for female homosexuals.


A commonly used acronym to encompass people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning intersex, or asexual.


Person who experiences sexual, romantic and/or physical attraction to people of all gender/sexual identities or expressions.


A term used throughout the Transgender community for people being accepted as, or able to “pass for,” a member of their self-identified gender identity (regardless of sex assigned at birth) without being identified as trans*. 2 An LGB/queer individual who is believed to be or perceived as straight. This is a controversial term because it often is focusing on the person who is observing or interacting with the individual who is “passing” and puts the power/authority in observer rather than giving that power to the individual.


Used as an umbrella term to describe individuals who don’t identify as straight. Also used to describe people who have a non-normative gender identity, or as a political affiliation. Due to its historical use as a derogatory term, it is not embraced or used by all members of the LGBTQ community. The term “queer” can often be use interchangeably with LGBTQ (e.g., “queer folks” instead of “LGBTQ folks”). For many GLBT persons, the term ‘queer’ has negative connotations, however, many GLBT persons have ‘reclaimed’ it as a symbol of pride. It is sometimes recommended that non-GLBT people do not use this term.


An individual who or time when someone is unsure about or exploring their own sexual orientation or gender identity.

Rainbow Flag

A symbol celebrating the uniqueness and diversity within the LGBTQIA+ community. San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker designed a flag for the city’s Gay Freedom celebrations in 1978. It has six stripes, each a different color, ranging from purple to red, used to symbolize equality and diversity among all people. Sometimes a black stripe is added to the bottom to honor those who have died from AIDS.


A central feature of being human that is extremely individualized. It includes sexual feelings, thoughts, attractions, preferences and sometimes behavior.

Sexual Preference/Expression

The way you like/do not like to be sexually intimate. This is not to be confused with sexual orientation.

Sexual Orientation

Your sexual orientation is who you are emotionally, mentally and physically attracted to based on their sex/gender in relation to your own. This may be same-sex orientation, male-female orientation or a bisexual orientation (all sexes).

Sexual Identity

How a person identifies with their sexual orientation. Eg. “I identify myself as straight/gay”. This may not necessarily align with the person’s sexual expression or sexual orientation.


This term is a shortening of the terms ‘transgender’ and ‘transexual’.


A term used by many older transgender people to describe themselves. The term often refers to transgender people who have physically transitioned to their choice of gender.


Someone whose gender identity differs from their biological sex assigned at birth. Transgender people may identify as ‘men’ or ‘women’ or decide that neither label fits them. In order to express their chosen gender, transgender people may transition from the gender that they were given at birth (biological sex).


In order to express their chosen gender, someone who is transgender may ‘transition’ from the sex that they were assigned at birth (biological sex) with the help of medications or surgery. This process is referred to as ‘transitioning’.


Someone who adopts the dress, and sometimes behavior, typical of the ‘opposite’ gender for a variety of reasons including emotional and/or sexual pleasure.


A person who was assigned a female sex at birth but identifies as a man.


A person who was assigned a male sex at birth but identifies as a woman.


Is an umbrella term traditionally used by Native American people to recognize individuals who possess qualities or fulfill roles of both genders.