Yesterday was Intersex Day, an internationally observed awareness day designed to highlight human rights issues faced by intersex people. In light of this day I was thinking about the number of people who do not understand certain terms when it comes to gender identity/ expression and sexual orientation, and therefore refrain from getting involved in conversations around these matters.
So, myself and my team have compiled an introductory list of LGBTQ+ and gender terms. This list is by no means exhaustive but can be used as a starter glossary to help give people the words and meanings to help move conversation forward and to ensure we are all being as respectful and accurate as possible when using identifying language.
A member of the majority or dominant group who works to end oppression by recognising their own privilege and supporting or advocating for the oppressed population. For example, a heterosexual, cisgender person who supports and stands up for the equality of LGBTQ+ people.
Refers to a person who does not identify with any gender. They may see themselves as neither man nor woman, have no gender identity or no gender to express.
Refers to someone who does not experience sexual attraction but may experience other forms of attraction. There is a huge diversity in the asexual community and each asexual person experiences relationships, attraction and arousal differently. Asexuality is not the same as celibacy or sexual abstinence, and it is a sexual orientation, not a chosen behaviour. Asexual people may also identify as LGBTQ+.
Many people use “bisexual” as an umbrella term for any form of attraction —sexual, romantic, emotional, or otherwise— to two or more genders. Historically it has been used to refer to people of your own gender and to people with gender(s) different than your own.
A person whose gender identity aligns with the gender they were assigned at birth.
Demisexuality is a sexual orientation where people only experience sexual attraction towards someone once they have formed a strong, emotional connection with them.
A person who is attracted to people of the same gender.
A person who does not identify with a single fixed gender, or a sense that one’s gender identity or expression can change over time.
How someone perceives their gender and what they identify as – male, female, both, or neither. Your gender identity can be the same or different from the sex assigned at birth.
In general terms, “sex” tends to refer to the biological differences between males and females, such as the genitalia and genetic differences. “Gender” refers to the role of a man or woman in society, and the socially constructed characteristics of each gender. It varies from society to society and can be changed.
The widely held assumption that everyone is heterosexual and that heterosexuality is the default, preferred, or “normal” sexual orientation.
Intersex is an umbrella term for people who are born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that fall outside of the male/female binary. There are lots of ways someone can be intersex with over 30 specific variations and each intersex person is different.
Variations may appear in a person’s chromosomes, genitals, or internal organs like testes or ovaries. Some intersex traits are identified at birth, while others may not be discovered until puberty or later in life. It is estimated that 1-2 out of 100 people born in the USA are intersex (source: Planned Parenthood).
A woman who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to other women.
Acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual. The + is used to signify the other identities and orientations that are not covered by the other letters including but not restricted to pansexual, agender, genderqueer, non-binary, gender non-conforming.
The purpose of the acronym is to represent the huge diversity of people who are not straight or cisgender and the addition of the “+” is better able to express that.
An umbrella term for people who do not identify as “man” or ‘woman’ Non-binary identities are varied and some people may identify with both binary identities, some aspects, or none at all.
A person who is attracted to all or many gender expressions.
An umbrella term that is used to describe sexual or gender identities other than heterosexual and cisgender. LGBT people may all identify with the word queer but while it has been reclaimed by many LGBT people today, historically “queer” was used as a derogatory slur and is still seen by some people as such.
A person whose gender identity is not aligned with the gender they were assigned at birth. This word is also used as a broad umbrella term to describe those who transcend conventional expectations of gender identity or expression.
An umbrella term used by some Indigenous North Americans to describe Native people in their communities who identify as having both a masculine and feminine spirit. It is a role that existed in a Native American/First Nations/Indigenous tribe for gender queer, gender fluid, and gender non-conforming tribal members and is not an identity to be claimed by other people.
Gender neutral pronouns used instead of he/she or him/her. These pronouns offer inclusion and accuracy for someone who doesn’t identify with male/female classifications.