There are many words and terms used to understand gender, sex, sexuality and identity. Below you will find a glossary of terms that may be relevant to the LGBTQ community. Keep in mind that words change and evolve. Some words may have multiple meanings and an individual may have a unique definition for word or term. If you’re not sure or don’t understand the context a person may be using, you can respectfully ask them for what it means to them.
Glossary of Terms
Someone who does not identify as having a gender.
A non-LGBTQ person who supports and stands up for the LGBTQ community.
The combination of elements of masculinity and femininity.
A person who does not experience emotional or romantic attraction.
Abbreviations that refer to one’s Assigned Sex At Birth, typically AMAB (assigned male) or AFAB (assigned female). Used to describe trans peoples’ experiences of socially assigned gender and intersex peoples’ experiences of surgically assigned gender.
A person who is capable of being attracted emotionally, romantically, and/or sexually to more than one gender.
A cis person with a fetishistic attraction towards trans people.
Also abbreviated as “Cis”. Someone whose gender identity conforms to the sex assigned to them at birth. “Cis” is a Latin prefix which means “to remain on the same side of”, the antonym of the Latin prefix “Trans”.
The institutionalized assumption that everyone is cisgender and that cis people are inherently superior and preferable to trans and non-binary people.
A man who was assigned male at birth.
A woman who was assigned female at birth.
Individuals who enjoy dressing in ways that do not conform to their gender identity. This does not imply that the person identifies as that gender, nor does it imply anything about their sexuality. (“Crossdresser” replaces outdated terminology “transvestite”)
Someone who only partially identifies as a man, boy, or otherwise masculine, no matter their assigned gender.
Someone who only partially identifies as a woman, girl or otherwise feminine, no matter their assigned gender.
Exaggerated hyper-performance of gender presentation, most often involving crossdressing, often for shows or entertainment. This does not imply anything about the person’s gender identity or sexuality. Performing drag is not the same as being trans, though some drag performers are trans.
Literally “a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life.” Antonym of euphoria. Typically used among trans people to refer to emotional difficulty, depression, and distress caused by their body, but also often from how others interact with them and being misgendered.
Stand for “Female to Male” and “Male to Female”, referring to trans men and trans women respectively. Used more often by cisgender people and older trans people – younger trans people use these terms less frequently. Still prominent outside of English speaking communities. Among the non-binary community, FTX and MTX are sometimes used.
A man who is attracted emotionally, romantically, and/or sexually to other men.
How one expresses their gender, be it through clothing, makeup, etc.
An individual who may frequently change their gender expression and presentation.
An individual’s internal sense of what their gender is, be it male, female, or outside of the binary, which may or may not align with their gender assigned at birth. By and large, this is all that Gender actually is. It has nothing to do with sexual orientation.
Not specifying any particular gender. Definition can vary depending on context and individual using the term.
Gender nonconforming / Gender Variant
Individuals who do not conform to society’s expectations of their gender role – i.e., men who wear makeup or women who present butch.
The socially constructed and culturally specific patterns of behavior, appearance, and presentation expected and imposed on people based largely around perceived gender.
Refers to an individual who experiences sexual desire very rarely.
The institutionalized assumption that everyone is heterosexual and that heterosexuality is inherently superior and preferable to homosexuality, bisexuality, etc.
The irrational fear or hatred of or discrimination against people who are attracted to people of the same gender.
The experience of shame, aversion, or self-hatred in relation to one’s own attractions to a person of the same sex.
People born with ambiguous genitalia, chromosomal combinations other than XY and XX, or certain hormonal conditions that cause differences in sex development. Those with ambiguous genitalia are often surgically altered at birth, a practice that is increasingly being spoken out against. Intersex people are not necessarily trans, though some are. For more information you can visit Advocates for Informed Choice by clicking here.
A woman who is attracted emotionally, romantically, and/or sexually to other women.
Referring to someone with terms and pronouns that do not match their gender identity. This can be particularly distressing for trans people. Often a form of harassment.
Man Loving Man/Men. Used to refer to men of all sexualities who are attracted in some way to men.
Often abbreviated as "NB" or "enby". Individuals who do not identify as either male or female, but rather outside of the gender binary. The term is used both as a self-identifier, but also to encompass any other identities that do not fit in the binary genders. Non-binary people may or may not identify as trans.
Someone who does not wish to identify with any existing labels.
Wearing a penile prosthesis or other object to emulate the appearance of having a penis.
Someone who is capable of being attracted emotionally, romantically, and/or sexually to any gender.
Being perceived by straight/cisgender people as one of them, i.e. “passing as straight”. In the trans community it is used to refer specifically being recognized as one’s gender by others (such as a trans woman being recognized as a woman). This usage has fallen out of favor, however, due to implications that one is not genuinely that gender to begin with. As such, it should be avoided unless the other person has already used it first.
POC / WOC / QPOC / TPOC
POC – Person of Color
WOC - Woman of Color
QPOC - Queer Person of Color
TPOC - Trans Person of Color
among other variations.
WOC - Woman of Color
QPOC - Queer Person of Color
TPOC - Trans Person of Color
among other variations.
Short for "polyamorous". Describes someone who is open to the idea of being in a relationship with multiple partners (regardless of whether or not they are currently in such a relationship).
A catch-all umbrella term for gender and sexuality minorities who are either not cis, not straight, or both. The word queer is a reclaimed slur, and sometimes still used as such, so use it with sensitivity – do not use it for others unless they already have for themselves.
An individual who may be trying to understand or questioning their sexuality and/or gender identity.
Defined by whom you are attracted to, emotionally, sexually, and/or romantically. Has nothing to do with gender.
When a trans individual chooses to not be openly trans in their social lives.
Refers to men who are exclusively attracted to women and women who are exclusively attracted to men. Attraction between men and women is heterosexual regardless of if either person is trans.
Someone assigned male at birth whose identity has moved away from masculinity. Used for trans women and AMAB non-binary people.
Abbreviated as “trans”. People whose gender identity differs from the sex assigned to them at birth.
A man who was assigned female at birth.
Someone assigned female at birth whose identity has moved away from femininity. Used for trans men and AFAB non-binary people.
Refers to the ways in which misogyny and transphobia can intersect, as well as the specific forms of oppression faced by trans women.
The irrational fear or hatred of or discrimination against people who are trans.
Similar to transgender, this is a more specific term typically referring to trans people who are hormonally and/or surgically transitioning from one binary gender to the other. This term has largely fallen out of use. While not necessarily offensive, this term is fairly out of use among younger trans people, and likely should be avoided unless the individual self-identifies.
A woman who was assigned male at birth.
An umbrella term referring to various forms of gender identity and sexuality specific to the culture of the indigenous peoples of North America.
A technique used to bind and minimize the appearance of the testicles and penis, often used by trans feminine people or crossdressers. Performed both to relieve dysphoria and avoid misgendering, or for simple aesthetic reasons.
Woman loving woman/women. Used to refer to women of all sexualities who are attracted in some way to women.
Refers to hormone blockers used in HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) for trans people.
Surgery that either reconfigures a penis into a vagina (vaginoplasty) or constructs a penis (phalloplasty, metoidioplasty). Has several different names – SRS (Sexual Reassignment Surgery), GCS (Gender Confirmation Surgery), GRS (Gender Reassignment Surgery, or Genital Reconstructive Surgery), GAS (Gender Affirmation Surgery), etc. which change in usage frequently. Bottom Surgery is a catch-all term which is most likely to be understood.
Harry Benjamin Standards of Care
The Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People are non-binding protocols outlining the usual treatment for individuals who wish to undergo hormonal and/or surgical transition. Older trans people may refer to the “Harry Benjamin Standards of Care”, though Benjamin’s name is no longer in use. Because of this, the term is falling out of use.
Homosexual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Obsessive thoughts about the possibility of being gay without any actual attraction towards the same gender.
Hormone Replacement Therapy. Refers to usage of hormones in trans individuals to medically transition and achieve desired changes in body form, as well as changes in mood and peace of mind.
PrEP: Pre-exposure prophylaxis. When people at very high risk for HIV take HIV medicines daily to lower their chances of getting infected. PrEP can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout your body. May be known under certain brand names; Truvada is the only brand currently used in the US.
Post-Exposure Prophylaxis. PEP is an HIV prevention strategy in which HIV-negative people take anti-HIV medications after coming into contact with HIV to reduce their risk of HIV infection. PEP must be started within 72 hours after HIV exposure.
Refers to a trans person who has not undergone transition related surgeries yet, either top or bottom surgery.
Refers to a trans person who has undergone transition related surgeries, usually bottom surgery, but sometimes can refer to top surgery in trans men.
Refers to a trans person who does not desire transition related surgeries, typically bottom surgery.
Spironolactone, a testosterone blocker used primarily in the US as part of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) for trans women & trans feminine people.
Short for testosterone.
Surgery that reduces or removes the breasts. Relevant for trans men and trans masculine people. Sometimes used to refer to breast augmentation surgeries by trans women.
Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor (see also: CADC)
Certified Counselor in Mental Health
Certified Professional Accountant
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (see also: LICSW – Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, LSW)
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (see also: MFT, not to be confused with MTF)
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Licensed Professional Counselor