Glossary of LGBTQIA+ Terminology

ByJoanne Lockwood

Glossary of LGBTQIA+ Terminology

Glossary-of-LGBTQIA-Terminology-1
Glossary of LGBTQIA+ Terminology

This glossary provides definitions for key terms related to gender identity and sexual orientation. These terms are important for understanding the complex landscape of gender and sexuality.

Gender identity is the gender that a person sees themselves as. This can be different from the gender a person is assigned at birth. Sexual orientation is who a person is attracted to emotionally, romantically, and/or sexually.

There is a lot of diversity within the LGBTQIA+ community. This glossary provides definitions for some of the most common gender identities and sexual orientations. It is by no means a comprehensive list, but it can provide a starting point for further exploration.

TRIGGER WARNING:

Please note some of the words and phrases illustrated below are considered offensive or extremely problematic to many.

A B C E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

Ace 

A person who does not experience sexual attraction.

Ace is sometimes used as an umbrella term for people who experience little or no sexual attraction (i.e., asexual, gray-asexual, demisexual).

Agender

An individual who does not identify with any particular gender. Agender people may identify as being both male and female, neither male nor female, or some other gender entirely.

Many agender people also identify as non-binary, genderqueer, or transgender, though some choose those avoid these terms. 

Aliagender

An individual whose gender identity is a combination of two or more genders. Aliagender people may identify as being both male and female, neither male nor female, or some other combination of genders.

Allosexual

A term used to describe people who are attracted to others sexually. The opposite of asexual, allosexuals may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, or bisexual, among other sexual orientations.

Ally

An individual who supports and advocates for the rights of LGBTQIA+ people, even though they may not identify as being part of the community themselves. Allies can be straight, cisgender, or any other orientation or identity that is not part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Androgyne

A gender identity refers to a person who does not feel restricted by traditional gender norms and expectations. Androgyne people may identify as being both male and female, neither male nor female, nor some other gender entirely.

Androsexual or Androphilic

A term used to describe people who are attracted to men, or those assigned male at birth. The opposite of gynesexual/gynephilic, androsexual/androphilic people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, or bisexual, among other sexual orientations.

Aporagender

An individual who does not identify with any particular gender, but whose gender is experienced as a void or emptiness.

Aromantic or Aro

A term used to describe people who experience little or no romantic attraction. The opposite of romantic, aromantic people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, or bisexual, among other sexual orientations.

Aro is sometimes used as an umbrella term for people who experience little or no romantic attraction (i.e., romanticom, gray-arantic, demiromantic).

Aromanticism

A romantic orientation that describes individuals who do not experience romantic attraction to others. Aromanticism is considered to be a subset of the aromantic spectrum, and there are a number of different ways that individuals who identify as aromantic can express their identity.

Asexual

The opposite of allosexual, asexual individuals are not sexually attracted to others. Some choose to date and form relationships with other asexual people, while others remain single and celibate.

Asexuality

A sexual orientation that describes people who do not experience sexual attraction to others. Asexuality is a spectrum, and there are several different ways that individuals who identify as asexual can express their identity.

Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

A group of conditions that are characterized by difficulties in social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviours. Autism spectrum disorder includes conditions such as autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and Rett syndrome.

Asperger’s Syndrome

A developmental disorder that is characterized by difficulties in social interaction and repetitive behaviours. Asperger’s syndrome is considered to be on the “milder” end of the autism spectrum.

B

Being Open

See Coming Out

Bigender

An individual whose gender identity is composed of two genders. Bigender people may identify as being both male and female, neither male nor female, nor some other combination of genders.

Biphobia

The fear and hatred of people who are bisexual. Biphobia can be directed towards heterosexual, cisgender, or any other orientation individuals who identify as being attracted to more than one gender.

Bisexuality

An umbrella term used to describe individuals who are attracted to people regardless of their gender. Bisexuality can be further broken down into different types, including pansexuality and non-monosexuality.

Bottom surgery

A type of gender-affirming surgery that involves the construction or remaking of external genitalia in order to better match one’s inner sense of self. Bottom surgery can be performed on people who identify as male, female, non-binary transgender, and many other gender identities.

Butch

A term used to describe masculine-presenting lesbians. Butch can be used as an identity label, or simply as a descriptor.

C

Cis Trans Ally

An individual who is supportive of trans people and does not engage in any discriminatory or oppressive behaviours towards transgender, non-binary, and genderqueer individuals. Cis trans allies are also often referred to as being “trans-friendly.”

As a cis-trans ally, you can show your support for trans rights by speaking out against injustice, educating yourself and others about trans issues, and standing up for trans people when they are mistreated. You can also support trans-led organisations and initiatives that work to improve the lives of transgender people.

Cisgender

A term used to describe people whose gender identity matches their gender assigned at birth. For example, a baby born with a vulva is typically assigned female at birth and would therefore be considered cisgender.

The vast majority of people in our society are cisgender, which is why this term is not widely known. However, it is important to recognize that trans and gender non-conforming people exist in all societies around the world.

Cisheteronormative

Cisheteronormativity is the set of social and cultural norms that privilege heterosexuality while marginalizing other sexual orientations and gender identities. This system is deeply rooted in our culture and can be seen in both explicit and implicit ways through the media landscape, our educational institutions, and other institutional structures. Those who do not conform to this system often face discrimination, violence, and exclusion.

Cissexism

Cissexism is the discrimination against individuals whose gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. This can manifest in a number of ways, including violence, exclusion from services and employment, and denial of one’s gender identity.

Civil Partnership

A legal agreement between two people of the same or different genders, which offers some of the rights and benefits that are usually reserved for married couples. Civil partnerships were introduced in the UK by the Civil Partnership Act 2004; however, since 2014 they have been replaced by civil marriages under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.

Closeted

A person who is not open about their sexual orientation or gender identity. Closeted people may be afraid of discrimination or rejection from family, friends, or others if they come out.

Collective Nouns

Nouns that refer to a group of people. Collective nouns for gender identities and sexual orientations include “LGBTQIA+ community,” “transgender people,” “gay men,” and “lesbians.”

Coming Out

Coming out as transgender or non-binary is the process of publicly revealing one’s gender identity and/or expression to others. For many transgender or non-binary people, this can be an exceedingly difficult and scary experience, especially if they do not have the support of their family and friends.

However, it is an important step in affirming one’s own identity and feelings. Coming out is also an important way to help increase visibility and awareness of transgender and non-binary people in our communities.

Cross-Dresser

A person who wears clothing that is different from the clothing typically worn by people of their gender. Cross-dressers are usually comfortable with their assigned gender and do not wish to change it. This term is considered derogatory and offensive when applied to transgender people, so avoid using it, when possible, where you are unsure of the context and the identity of the person being referred to.

Some Male Cross-dressers may use the phrase “T-Girl” but not everyone is comfortable with this term.

Replaces the term “transvestite” (TV).

Curious

A person who is interested in exploring their sexuality or gender identity.

D

Deadnaming

The use of an individual’s birth name, rather than their chosen name, when referring to them. Deadnaming is often used by individuals who are homophobic or transphobic and can be a form of violence against those they target.

Defamatory Language

Transgender and non-binary individuals can face a lot of discrimination and stigma in our society, which can lead to the use of negative or derogatory language to refer to them. Some common examples of demeaning terminology include “tranny,” “shemale,” “he-she,” and “it.”

While these words are often used to shame or marginalise transgender and non-binary people, it is important to remember that they are not reflective of the identities or experiences of these individuals. Instead, we should strive to use terms that are respectful and sensitive, such as “transgender” or “non-binary.” We must also be mindful of how we use pronouns and titles, such as “he” or “she,” to refer to transgender people.

Demi-Boy or Demi-Girl

A person whose gender identity is only partially male or female. For example, a demi-girl may identify as a girl most of the time but sometimes feel more like a boy.

Demigender

An individual whose gender identity is only partially male or female. For example, a demi-girl may identify as a girl most of the time but sometimes feel more like a boy.

Demiromantic

A term used to describe someone who does not experience romantic attraction unless they have formed a strong emotional connection with their partner. Demiromantic individuals may identify as being aromantic, but this is not always the case.

Demisexuality

A sexual orientation that describes people who do not experience sexual attraction to others unless they have formed a strong emotional connection with them. Demisexuality is considered to be a subset of the asexual spectrum.

Drag

A term used to describe the performance of gender in a theatrical or exaggerated way. Drag can be performed by cisgender, transgender, gay, or any other identity individuals.

Dyke

A derogatory term for a lesbian.

The word “dyke” is considered to be very offensive and should not be used.

Dysphoria

A feeling of unease or dissatisfaction. Gender dysphoria is the feeling of unease or dissatisfaction that a person experiences because their gender identity does not match their physical body.

E

Enby or NB

See Non-Binary

Epicene

A gender identity that refers to a person who does not feel restricted by traditional gender norms and expectations. Epicene people may identify as being both male and female, neither male nor female, nor some other gender entirely.

F

Faggot or Fag

A derogatory term referring to a gay person, or someone perceived as queer.

While often used derogatorily, it is also used reclaimed by some gay people (often gay men) as a positive in-group term.

Femme

A term used to describe feminine presenting lesbians. Femme can be used as an identity label, or simply as a descriptor.

Futch

An abbreviation of feminine that is often used by gay and bisexual men. Futch can be used as an identity label, or simply as a descriptor.

G

Gay

An umbrella term used to describe individuals who do not identify as straight. Gay people may identify as being both male and female, neither male nor female, or some other gender altogether.

Gay Rights

The civil rights that are extended to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Gay rights include the right to marry, the right to adopt children, and the right to serve in the military.

Gender

Gender is often used interchangeably with sex in UK law. It is a person’s actual, internal sense of whether they are a man, a woman, non-binary, agender, or something else. Assumptions about a person’s gender are often made based on a person’s primary sex characteristics.

Gender-Affirmation Surgery

Surgery that is performed to change a person’s physical appearance to match their gender identity. Gender-affirmation surgery can include chest reconstruction (for transgender men), genital reconstruction (for transgender women), and voice training (for transgender people of any gender).

Gender Assigned at Birth

The gender assigned to a person at birth is usually based on the appearance of their external genitalia. This is also known as sex assignment.

However, for some people, their gender identity does not match the gender they were assigned at birth. For example, a person with a female gender identity may have been born with male genitalia. In this case, their gender assigned at birth would be male.

Understanding the difference between gender identity and gender assigned at birth is important for supporting transgender and non-binary individuals. While we cannot always know someone’s gender identity just by looking at them, it is always important to be respectful and sensitive in how we refer to them.

Often used acronyms:

  • AFAB / FAAB: Assigned Female at Birth
  • AMAB / MAAB: Assigned Male at Birth.

Always avoid “Genetic”, “Real” or “Biological” when being used with Female / Girl / Male / Boy” or acronyms that reflect those descriptions.

Gender Critical

An umbrella term for individuals or groups who are sceptical about the validity of transgender identity. Although many gender-critical people are transphobic, some may still consider themselves to be allies of transgender people, especially those who do not identify as male or female.

Some feminists and other activists have begun to reclaim the term “gender critical” as a way of rejecting the negative connotations that have often been associated with it. This term is often used to describe those who are critical of or do not support transgender identity but still consider themselves to be allies of transgender people. However, many gender-critical activists and feminists believe that this term is problematic due to its historical association with transphobic attitudes.

Gender Dysphoria

Gender dysphoria is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. It’s sometimes known as gender identity disorder (GID), gender incongruence or transgenderism, but these terms should be avoided as they are extremely outdated.

This mismatch between birth-assigned sex and gender identity can lead to distressing and uncomfortable feelings that are called gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is a recognised medical condition, for which treatment is sometimes appropriate. It’s not a mental illness.

Some people with gender dysphoria have a strong and persistent desire to live according to their gender identity, rather than their assigned gender at birth. These people are sometimes called transsexual or trans people.

Some trans people have treatment to make their physical appearance more consistent with their gender identity, many don’t.

Gender Expression

Gender expression refers to the ways in which people communicate their gender identity through appearance, behaviour, and other forms of self-presentation. This can include clothing styles, hairstyles, body language, and other mannerisms that are typically associated with a particular gender.

While there is often a strong link between gender expression and gender identity, it is important to remember that not everyone expresses their gender in the same way. For example, a person who identifies as a woman may express her gender in a more masculine way, or a person who identifies as a man may express his gender in a more feminine way. There is no right or wrong way to express one’s gender, and everyone has the right to self-determine their own personal style.

At the societal level, gender expression is often influenced by traditional ideas about what constitutes “masculine” and “feminine” behaviour and appearance. This can lead to a great deal of pressure (both subtle and overt) for individuals to conform to certain gender norms, which can be harmful to those who do not fit neatly into traditional gender categories.

Gender Identity

Gender identity refers to an individual’s internal sense of what it means to be male or female. This can include a person’s sense of their own gender, as well as the ways in which they express and communicate their gender to others through dress, behaviour, and other forms of self-presentation. While many people have a strong sense of their own gender identity, some people may be unsure of or even question their gender. This questioning is a perfectly normal part of the human experience and learning more about gender identity can help individuals to better understand themselves.

For many people, their sense of gender identity develops gradually during childhood and adolescence. However, it is also possible for people to develop a sense of their own gender identity later in life, perhaps in response to a particular experience or event. Regardless of when and how an individual’s gender identity develops, it is an integral part of who they are as a person.

At the societal level, our concept of gender is often based on traditional notions that dictate how men and women are supposed to behave. However, gender identity is a highly individualized and personal experience, and it is not always in alignment with stereotypical expectations of one’s gender. This can lead to feelings of confusion or isolation, especially when individuals feel that they do not fit into traditional gender roles.

Overall, understanding and respecting the concept of gender identity is essential to creating a more inclusive and tolerant world for all people. By increasing our understanding of this complex and nuanced topic, we can work to create a world in which everyone can feel comfortable and safe expressing their true selves.

Gender Identity Disorder (GID)

A term used in the past by some medical professionals to describe transgender people. This term is considered outdated and offensive, so avoid using it when possible.

Avoid using this term as many people in the transgender community and beyond are not comfortable with it. Some people prefer “gender dysphoria” or simply “dysphoria”.

Outdated, see Gender Dysphoria

Gender Non-Conforming

Gender non-conforming refers to people who do not conform to societal expectations and norms around gender. This may be due to their appearance, behaviour, or identity.

Many transgender people have gender expressions that are conventionally masculine or feminine. Simply being transgender does not make someone gender non-conforming.

The term is not a synonym for transgender or transsexual and should only be used if someone self-identifies as gender non-conforming.

Gender Reassignment

The process of transitioning from one gender to another, or the state of being in that process.

Gender Recognition Act 2004

The Gender Recognition Act is a law in the UK that allows transgender people who meet certain criteria to change their legal gender from male to female or vice versa.

The Gender Recognition Act was passed in 2004, and it represented a major step forward in the recognition of trans rights. Before this law, many trans people faced discrimination and institutional barriers when trying to access healthcare, education, housing, and other services. The act has helped to improve access to these vital resources for trans people across the UK.

Despite these advances, there is still much work to be done to fully support trans rights in the UK. For example, the process of changing one’s legal gender under the Gender Recognition Act is still lengthy and onerous, and many trans people do not wish to go through it. In addition, the act does support non-binary individuals to gain legal recognition.

Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC)

A Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) is a document that allows transgender people who meet certain criteria to change their legal gender from male to female or vice versa, under the Gender Recognition Act 2004.

To obtain a GRC, an individual must have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria by two medical professionals and lived in their acquired gender for at least two years. In addition, they must provide proof of name change and a statutory declaration that they intend to live in their acquired gender for the rest of their lives.

A GRC is an important legal document that provides trans people with better access to healthcare, education, housing, and other services. However, many advocates argue that the process of obtaining this certificate can still be lengthy and onerous and that more needs to be done to support trans rights in the UK. There is no provision in the process to support non-binary individuals to gain legal recognition.

Gender Role

A gender role is a set of expectations that dictate how people of a particular gender are supposed to behave. These expectations can be based on a variety of factors, including biology, culture, and historical precedent.

While gender roles vary from one society to another, they often dictate how people of a particular gender are supposed to dress, speak, think, and behave in other ways. For example, many societies expect men to be masculine and assertive, while women are often expected to be feminine and submissive.

At the societal level, gender roles can have a profound impact on people’s lives. They may create pressure for individuals to conform to certain expectations, or they may leave people feeling marginalized or excluded if they do not fit neatly into traditional gender roles.

Genderfluid

An individual whose gender identity shifts from one particular gender to another. Genderfluid people may identify as being both male and female, neither male nor female, or some other combination of genders at different points in time.

Genderflux 

An individual whose gender identity shifts between a wide range of different genders. Genderflux people may identify as being both male and female, neither male nor female, or some other combination of genders at different points in time.

Genderqueer

Genderqueer is a term used to describe individuals who do not identify as strictly male or female. These individuals may identify as both genders, neither gender, oor some other non-binary gender identity that falls outside of the traditional gender binary.

One common misconception about people who are genderqueer is that they are trying to transition from one gender to another. However, this is not always the case. For many genderqueer individuals, their non-binary gender identity is not a phase or a transition, but an integral part of who they are.

Genderqueer people often face discrimination and exclusion from both the queer community and the mainstream world. This is due in part to the fact that many people still operate under the assumption that there are only two genders, male and female. As a result, genderqueer people may feel like they don’t fit in anywhere.

It is important to remember that everyone has the right to express their gender in whatever way they see fit, without fear of judgement or discrimination. By increasing our understanding and acceptance of genderqueer individuals, we can create a more inclusive and tolerant world for all people.

Gillick competence

The legal term used in the UK to describe a person under the age of 16 who is deemed to be able to understand the nature and implications of medical treatment and can therefore give their consent.

Grey-asexual

A term used to describe individuals who are asexual but experience sexual attraction on very rare occasions. Grey-asexuals may identify as being on the asexual spectrum, or they may simply use this descriptor to explain their experiences.

Greygender 

An individual whose gender identity does not fit within the traditional two-gender system, but who still feels that their gender is more than just a lack of it. Greygender people may identify as being both male and female, neither male nor female, or some other gender entirely.

Greysexuality

A sexual orientation that describes people who experience very little sexual attraction to others, or who only experience sexual attraction under specific circumstances. Greysexuality is often considered to be a subset of the asexual spectrum.

Gynesexual or Gynephilic

A term used to describe people who are attracted to women or those assigned female at birth. The opposite of androsexual/androphilic, gynesexual/gynephilic people may identify as straight, lesbian, or bisexual, among other sexual orientations.

H

Hate crime

A hate crime is an act of violence or discrimination that targets a person based on their identity, such as race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion. In some cases, individuals who perpetrate these crimes are specifically motivated by bigotry and bias. Hate crimes are often considered more serious than other crimes due to the targeting nature of the attack.

Heteronormativity

An oppressive system that privileges straight people while marginalizing those who do not conform to this identity. Heteronormativity is often reinforced through gender roles, cultural expectations, and the media landscape.

Heterosexual or Straight

A person who is sexually attracted to people of a different gender is considered heterosexual. Heterosexuality is considered the default sexual orientation in many cultures, and as such, those who identify as straight often do not experience the same level of discrimination as other sexual orientations.

The contemporary term that should now be used is Straight

Homonormativity

An oppressive system that privileges heterosexual, cisgender people while marginalizing those who do not conform to these identities. Homonormativity can be found within Western culture and is highly reflective of hegemonic masculinity and heteronormativity.

Homophobia

Homophobia refers to a range of negative attitudes and behaviours towards people who identify as gay. It can manifest as an individual belief that same-sex activity is wrong or unnatural, and often results in discrimination and violence against LGBTQ+ people.

Homosexual

A person who is sexually attracted to people of the same gender is considered gay. In many cultures, same-sex attraction is seen as deviant or abnormal, which can lead to discrimination and violence against people who identify as gay.

This term is outdated and should be considered problematic.  Use Gay or Same-Sex Attracted instead.

I

Intergender

An individual whose gender identity is between two particular genders. Intergender people may identify as being both male and female, neither male nor female

Internalised homophobia

When an LGBTQ+ individual has assimilated the homophobia that exists in society and therefore begins to believe the negative messages they receive about their identity. This can lead to self-hatred and a range of mental health issues.

Internalised transphobia

When a trans or non-binary individual has assimilated the transphobia that exists in society and therefore begins to believe the negative messages they receive about their identity. This can lead to self-hatred and a range of mental health issues.

Intersex

Intersex is a term used to describe individuals who are born with reproductive anatomy or chromosomes that do not fit the typical definitions of “male” and “female.” This may include individuals with both male and female genitalia, or a combination of XXY chromosomes, for example.

Intersex people face a wide range of challenges in our society, including discrimination from medical professionals and social stigma. They are often forced to undergo unnecessary and invasive medical procedures, without their consent, to “normalise” their appearance.

Some intersex people identify as transgender, but many do not.

J

K

L

Lesbian

An umbrella term used to describe female individuals who do not identify as straight and who are exclusively attracted to other female individuals who also do not identify as straight.

Lesbianism

A female sexual orientation, which refers to women who are attracted to other women. Lesbianism is often considered a form of same-sex attraction, though many lesbians choose not to explicitly identify with this term due to the negative connotations associated with it.

Lesbophobia

The fear and hatred of lesbians. Lesbophobia can be directed towards gay and bisexual women but is most commonly directed toward lesbians.

LGBTQ+

An acronym for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning”. The plus sign encompasses a wide range of other identities, such as pansexual, asexual, intersex, and more. The term is used to describe the diverse group of people who do not identify as straight or cisgender.

Lipstick lesbian

A term used to describe a lesbian who presents in a feminine way. Lipstick lesbians may or may not also identify as femme and are often assumed to be straight by those who use this term.

M

Masc

An abbreviation of masculine that is often used by gay, bisexual, and transgender men. Masc can be used as an identity label, or simply as a descriptor.

Maverique 

An individual whose gender is neither male nor female but cannot be accurately described by any other term. Maverique people may identify as being both male and female, neither male nor female, or some other combination of genders.

Metrosexual 

A man who is highly concerned with his appearance and grooming.

Misgendering

The act of referring to someone using the wrong pronouns (e.g., calling a transgender woman “he”). Misgendering can be intentional or unintentional.

Monosexual

A person who identifies as being sexually attracted to one gender is considered monosexual. Monosexual individuals can experience attraction towards someone of the same gender, different genders, or no genders at all.

MSM

An abbreviation of men who have sex with men. MSM is often used in research and public health contexts to describe gay and bisexual men, as well as other men who have sex with men, without specifying their sexual orientation.

MTF / FTM

An abbreviation for male-to-female and female-to-male, respectively. These are common terms used in the transgender community to describe someone’s gender history/present, but they should be avoided in formal writing as they can be considered offensive by some people who do not use them themselves.

Alternatives: Transgender person (most neutral), Trans man / trans woman, Trans person.

N

NB or Enby

See Non-Binary

Neo-Penis

A neopenis is a surgically created penis. It is typically constructed using skin grafts from the patient’s arm, thigh, or back. Neopenises can be created for transgender men and intersex individuals who have been born without a penis or have had their penis damaged due to genital mutilation.

The term “neopenis” is considered to be offensive by some people because it implies that the surgically created penis is not a “real” penis. The term should only be used if it is specifically requested by the person who has undergone the surgery.

Neo-Pronouns

Pronouns that are not traditional (e.g., he, she, them) and are used by people who do not identify as male or female. Examples of neo-pronouns include “ze,” “per,” and “ey.”

Neo-Vagina

A neovagina is a surgically created vagina. It is typically constructed using skin grafts from the patient’s arm, thigh, or back. Neovaginas can be created for transgender women and intersex individuals who have been born without a vagina or have had their vagina damaged due to genital mutilation.

The term “neovagina” is considered to be offensive by some people because it implies that the surgically created vagina is not a “real” vagina. The term should only be used if it is specifically requested by the person who has undergone the surgery.

Neurodiverse

A term used to describe people who have brains that do not conform to the standard neurotypical, or “normal”, model of brain functionality. Neurodiversity is often associated with intellectual disabilities and disorders on the autism spectrum, though it can also refer to other neurological differences.

Neurotypical

A neurotypical person is somebody who does not have any neurological or mental conditions. The term is typically used to contrast with people who are on the autism spectrum (ASD) or have other neurodivergent conditions.

The term “neurotypical” is considered to be offensive by some people because it implies that there is something “wrong” with people who are on the autism spectrum or have other neurodivergent conditions. The term should only be used if it is specifically requested by the person who it is being applied to.

Neutrois

An individual whose gender identity is neither male nor female but may be described as neutral or null gender. Neutrois people may identify as being both male and female, neither male nor female.

Non-binary

Non-binary is an umbrella term used to describe people who do not identify as exclusively male or female. Non-binary people may identify as being both male and female, somewhere in between, or as something completely different.

There is growing recognition and support for non-binary people in the UK, with many organizations now providing gender-neutral facilities and services that are inclusive of all genders. However, there is still much work to be done to fully ensure trans rights and support non-binary individuals. For example, many non-binary people face discrimination and exclusion from vital services, such as healthcare, education, and housing. In addition, there is currently no legal recognition for non-binary people in the UK.

Ultimately, there is no one right way to identify as non-binary or to understand your own gender identity. Every person’s experience with gender is unique and individual, and there is a multitude of valid and beautiful ways to express your gender identity. If you think you might be non-binary, the most important thing is to listen to your own heart and mind and to find a community of supportive people who will respect and validate your identity.

Also often known as, or shortened to Enby, or NB.

Non-monosexuality

An umbrella term used to describe individuals who are only attracted to people who do not identify as the same gender as them. Non-monosexuality can be further broken down into different orientations, including gay, lesbian, and bisexual.

Non-Op

A person who does not want to have gender-affirmation surgery.

This term is considered to be very problematic and should not be used.

Normalising

The act of making something feel “normal” or “acceptable.” For example, normalising transgender people means making it so that transgender people are seen as equal to cisgender people and are not treated as if they are “other” or “abnormal.”

O

Odysseogender

A gender identity that is constantly in flux and ever-changing. Odysseogender people may identify as being both male and female, neither male nor female, or some other combination of genders at different points in time.

Orientation

An individual’s sexual orientation, or who they are attracted to, is a major component of their identity. People can identify as straight, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, and many other orientations.

Othergender

An umbrella term used to describe any gender identity that does not fall within the traditional two-gender system. Othergender people may identify as being both male and female, neither male nor female, or some other gender entirely.

Outed

The process of revealing someone’s LGBTQ+ identity without their consent. This can be done deliberately, in an effort to harm or embarrass the individual, or unintentionally, through carelessness or lack of understanding.

Outing someone can have serious consequences for their safety and well-being and should always be avoided.

P

Pangender

An individual whose gender identity encompasses all genders. Pangender people may identify as being both male and female, neither male nor female, or some other combination of genders.

Pansexuality

A sexual orientation that describes people who are attracted to others regardless of their gender identity or body type. Pansexuality is not the same as bisexuality, as pansexual individuals can be attracted to any individual, regardless of their gender identity or presentation.

Passing

When a person is able to convincingly present as the gender they identify with, without raising suspicion that they are transgender. This can be difficult or impossible for some people, depending on factors such as their appearance, voice, and body type.

Perigender

An individual whose gender identity can be best described as a “surrounding” or “encompassing” gender. Perigender people may identify as being both male and female, neither male nor female, or some other combination of genders.

Person with a trans history

A term used by some individuals who no longer identify as transgender, but still have a trans history. This can include people who have undergone transition-related medical treatments, such as hormone therapy or surgery, as well as those who simply identify as transgender.

Personal Gender Pronouns (PGPs)

The pronouns that a person uses to refer to themselves. Most people use he/him/his or she/her/hers pronouns, but there are many other options (e.g., they/them/theirs, ze/hir/hirs). It is considered polite to ask someone their PGPs before assuming which pronouns to use.

Polyamory

The practise of being in multiple romantic relationships at the same time, with the consent of all partners involved.

Polygender

An individual whose gender identity is composed of multiple genders. Polygender people may identify as being both male and female, as many male and female genders, as several male and female genders, or as some other combination of genders.

Post-Op

A person who has already had gender-affirmation surgery.

This term is considered to be very problematic and should not be used.

Pre-Op

A person who is planning to have gender-affirmation surgery.

This term is considered to be very problematic and should not be used.

Pride flags

There are a number of pride flags that have been designed to represent the various non-binary gender identities. Many people who identify as non-binary also choose to use the traditional rainbow flag as a representation of their identity.

Progress Flag

The progress flag is a flag that was designed in order to represent the non-binary community. The flag consists of four stripes, each of which represents a different aspect of non-binary identity.

  • The first stripe is yellow and represents those who are genderqueer, agender, or otherwise non-binary.
  • The second stripe is green and represents those who identify as being both male and female.
  • The third stripe is teal and represents those who identify as being neither male nor female.
  • And the fourth stripe is purple and represents people who identify as having a gender that is other than the traditional binary genders.

The progress flag was created to represent the diversity and fluidity of the non-binary community, and it is an important symbol of pride and empowerment for non-binary people around the world.

Pronouns

Pronouns are the words we use to refer to someone when we don’t know their name, or when we want to avoid saying their name. For example, “he”, “she”, “they”.

When talking to someone, it is always important to use the pronouns and titles that they have told you they prefer. This shows respect for their identity and avoids potential awkwardness or hurt feelings.

If you are unsure of someone’s pronouns, it is perfectly acceptable to ask them what pronouns they prefer. Some common pronouns include she/her, he/him, ze/zir, and others.

Some transgender or non-binary people like to be referred to using gender-neutral terms such as “they” instead of “he” or “she,” especially when talking about a group of people.

Protected Characteristic

A protected characteristic is an aspect of someone’s identity that’s protected under law. Some examples include age, disability, race, religion, and sexual orientation.

In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination and harassment based on their gender identity or expression (including a person’s perceived gender identity and/or expression). This means that trans people are protected from discrimination and harassment in all areas of life, including employment, education, healthcare, housing, public services, and the provision of goods and services.

Q

Queen

A derogatory term for a gay man.

The word “queen” is considered to be very offensive and should not be used.

Queer

Often used as an umbrella term for LGBTQ+ identities, queer can be considered both an identity label, as well as a political label. People who use the term queer may have different intentions when doing so, and it is important to understand the context of its usage.

Queerbaiting

A term used in media studies which describe when creators of content include characters or relationships that could be read as LGBTQ+ without confirming this identity publicly. In some cases, this can simply be a tactic to draw interest from LGBTQ+ viewers while maintaining a heteronormative and cisnormative narrative.

Queerplatonic relationship

A romantic or sexual relationship between two people that is not explicitly identified as such within the context of their culture. Queerplatonic relationships do not fit neatly into the standard cisheteronormative models of relationships and use different languages to describe their connections.

Questioning

An individual who is exploring their own gender identity and is not yet sure which gender or genders they identify as.

It is a tentative gender identity label for a person who is in the process of figuring out how to describe and label their gender identity but has reason to think that they might be transgender or at least not cisgender.  These individuals may or may not have shown signs of being gender non-conforming or gender diverse.

Gender questioning is also a label that can be used by non-binary people who are still figuring out exactly what kind of non-binary identity they have.

Some questioning people also use the identities of Perigender or Odysseogender

R

Rett Syndrome

A developmental disorder that is characterized by difficulties in social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviours. Rett syndrome is considered to be on the “severe” end of the autism spectrum.

Romantic Orientation

Romantic orientation refers to a person’s ability to form relationships and find romantic partners. People who identify as straight or gay often consider this aspect of their sexuality, while others may not.

Romantic Relationship

A relationship between two people who are attracted to each other. Romantic relationships can be of any type (e.g., heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual).

S

Same Sex Marriage

The legal recognition of same-sex marriage. Marriage equality has been slowly introduced in various countries around the world, with the first legal same-sex marriages taking place in the Netherlands in 2001.

Today, marriage equality is recognized in many countries, including the United States, Canada, and much of Western Europe. However, this right remains controversial in many parts of the world, with some countries still refusing to recognize same-sex marriages or relationships.

Same-sex marriages are now legally recognised in the UK under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 and related legislation.

Sex

Sex is a biological concept that refers to the reproductive anatomy of an individual. This includes factors such as hormones, chromosomes, and genitals. It is important to note that sex is not the same as gender. While sex is a biological concept, gender is a social construct.

An individual’s sex does not necessarily dictate their gender identity. For example, a person may be assigned male at birth, but identify as female. Likewise, a person’s sex does not determine their sexual orientation. For example, someone who is assigned female at birth may identify as gay or bisexual.

Even though sex and gender are often conflated in our society, it is important to recognize and respect the diversity of sex and gender identities that exist.

Sex Change

An outdated and offensive term for “gender-affirmation surgery.”

Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS)

A term used by some medical professionals to describe a type of surgery that transforms physical characteristics from those associated with one gender to those associated with another. Avoid unless it is part of a direct quote or the name of an organization, event, etc. Often preferred by people who have had these surgeries.

Avoid using this term as many people in the transgender community and beyond are not comfortable with it. Some people prefer “gender reassignment surgery” (GRS), some prefer “sex affirmation surgery”, still others prefer “genital reconstruction surgery”, and many do not like any of these terms.

Always avoid using the outdated phrase: “pre-operative”, “post-operative” or “non-operative”

Sexual Orientation

Sexual orientation is a term used to describe an individual’s romantic and/or sexual attraction to others. There are many different sexual orientations, including gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, and heterosexual.

An individual’s sexual orientation does not necessarily dictate their gender identity. For example, someone who is assigned male at birth may identify as gay or bisexual, even if they were assigned female at birth. Likewise, an individual’s sexual orientation does not determine their sex.

It is important to note that people of all sexual orientations deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. As a society, we must work to create safe environments for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Sexual Preference

The gender(s) of the people that a person is attracted to. Sexual preference is considered to be outdated and offensive by some people because it implies that sexuality is a choice. The preferred term is “sexual orientation.”

Shemale

A pornographic term is used to describe a transgender woman with male genitalia and breasts. This word is considered derogatory and offensive, so avoid using it when possible.

Alternatives: Ladyboy – considered offensive in many contexts

Skoliosexual

A person who is attracted to non-binary people.

Slang

Informal words or phrases that are used in everyday conversation. Slang terms for gender identities and sexual orientations include “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” “transgender,” “queer,” and “LGBTQIA+.”

SOGI or SOGIESC

An acronym for “sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression, and sex characteristics”. The term is used to encompass the wide range of human diversity in these areas, and to emphasize that they are all separate and distinct concepts.

Stealth

Passing or stealth refers to the ability of a transgender person to blend in and be seen as the gender they identify with, rather than the gender they were assigned at birth.

For example, a trans woman who is “passing” may be largely seen and accepted by others as a woman, even though she was assigned male at birth.

Not all transgender people want or are able to pass, and there is no correct or incorrect way to be transgender.

Stud

A masculine-presenting queer woman. Studs can be of any gender identity, but they typically present in a traditionally masculine way.

SWERF

An acronym for “sex work-exclusionary radical feminist”, a derogatory term used to describe feminists and other activists who do not support the decriminalization of sex work. As with the terms “TERF” and “SWERF”, the term is widely considered to be offensive by those it is intended to describe. Some feminists and other activists have begun to reclaim this word as a way of defying the negative connotations associated with it.

Some feminists and other activists have started to reclaim the term “SWERF” as a way of rejecting the negative connotations that are often associated with it. This term is used to describe those who are critical of or do not support the decriminalization of sex work. However, many SWERFs believe that this term is problematic due to its historical association with transphobic attitudes.

T

T-Girl

A derogatory term for a transgender woman.

The word “T-girl” is considered to be very offensive and should not be used.

TERF 

An acronym for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist”, a derogatory term used to describe feminists and other activists who are critical of or do not support transgender identity. As with the terms “TERF” and “SWERF”, the term is widely considered to be offensive by those it is intended to describe. Some feminists and other activists have begun to reclaim this word as a way of defying the negative connotations associated with it.

Third gender

A term used by many cultures around the world to describe individuals who do not fit into traditional notions of gender. Third-gender people may identify as being both male and female, neither male nor female, or some other gender

Titles

The prefixes or suffixes that are used to indicate a person’s gender identity. For example, Ms. (for a woman), Mr. (for a man), and Mx. (for a non-binary person).

Top surgery

A type of gender-affirming surgery that involves the removal or alteration of the breasts in order to create a more masculine or androgynous body shape. Top surgery can be performed on people who identify as male, female, non-binary transgender, and many other gender identities.

Trans

Used as shorthand to mean transgender or transsexual – or sometimes to be inclusive of a wide variety of identities under the transgender umbrella. Because its meaning is not precise or widely understood, be careful when using it with audiences who may not understand what it means.

Avoid it unless used in a direct quote or in cases where you can clearly explain the term’s meaning in the context of your story.

Sometimes it is followed by an asterisk (*), i.e., trans*. The asterisk is a “wildcard” that stands for the multitude of ways that trans people identify.

Avoid using the asterisk (*) – it is now considered problematic and confusing

Trans Surgery

Also known as gender-affirming surgery, trans surgery refers to any surgical procedures that transgender or non-binary individuals may undergo to affirm their gender identity. This can include procedures such as top surgery (breast augmentation or removal), bottom surgery (genital reassignment), or facial feminization or masculinization surgeries.

Not all transgender or non-binary individuals choose to undergo trans surgery, and the decision to do so is a very personal one. However, for those who do choose to have surgery, it can be an important step in feeling more affirmed in their gender identity and expressing themselves authentically.

Some important considerations whether people chose or not to pursue trans surgery include cost, access to care, and mental and physical health. It is important to speak with your doctor or a qualified mental health professional before making any decisions about surgery.

Transexual

An older term that originated in the medical and psychological communities. Still preferred by some people who have permanently changed – or seek to change – their bodies through medical interventions, including but not limited to hormones and/or surgeries. Unlike transgender, transsexual is not an umbrella term.

Many transgender people do not identify as transsexual and prefer the word transgender. It is best to ask which term a person prefers. If preferred, use as an adjective: transsexual woman or transsexual man.

Transgender

Transgender is a term used to describe people whose gender identity does not match their gender assigned at birth. For example, someone who is assigned male at birth but identifies as female would be considered transgender.

Due to the stigma and discrimination, they often face, many transgender individuals struggle with feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety. Additionally, they may be more likely to experience violence, homelessness, and poverty.

Use as an adjective: trans/transgender woman or trans/transgender man.

Transgender Man

People who were assigned female at birth but identify as male. Transgender men may or may not have gender-affirmation surgery.

Transgender Woman

People who were assigned male at birth but identify as female. Transgender women may or may not have gender-affirmation surgery.

Transgendered

An outdated and offensive term for transgender people. The preferred term is “transgender.”

Transgenderism

The state or condition of identifying with a gender that is different from the one assigned at birth. Transgender people may transition by changing their hairstyle, clothing, name, and/or pronouns, taking hormones, and/or undergoing surgery.

Transgender identity is not a mental disorder. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the handbook used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental disorders. The DSM-5, published in 2013, removed the diagnosis of “gender identity disorder” from its list of mental disorders.

Transgender people may identify as male, female, non-binary, or any other gender identity.

The word transgenderism is considered problematic and should not be used.

Transition or Transitioning

A term often used by transgender people to refer to the process of changing one’s physical, and sexual characteristics from those associated with one’s birth-assigned gender to those associated with another gender. It is important to note that not all transgender people choose to or can undergo medical transitions – this is a personal decision that should be respected.

Regardless of whether someone chooses to transition, all transgender people should be treated with dignity and respect.

– Social transition 

The process of changing one’s social and/or legal gender identity to match their inner sense of self. This may involve changing one’s name, pronouns, appearance, and/or legal documents such as a passport or birth certificate.

The process of changing one’s legal gender identity to match their inner sense of self. This may involve changing one’s name and/or gender marker on legal documents such as a passport or birth certificate.

– Medical transition 

The process of changing one’s physical appearance and/or hormones to match their inner sense of self. This may involve surgery, hormone therapy, or both. Not all transgender people choose to medically transition.

Always avoid the phrase “sex change”.

Transphobia

Transphobia refers to a range of negative attitudes and behaviours or the unwillingness to accept the existence of transgender people. It can manifest as an individual belief that being transgender is wrong or unnatural, and often results in discrimination and violence against LGBTQ+ people.

It can also manifest itself as the fear and hatred of people whose gender identity is not conforming with the traditional binary genders (male and female). Transphobia can be directed towards individuals of any gender identity but is most commonly directed toward transgender and non-binary individuals.

Avoid referring to Cisgender people as ‘normal’. All people should be treated with respect regardless of whether they are transgender or cisgender.

Transphobic Remark

A remark or action that is derogatory towards transgender people. Transphobic remarks can be intentional or unintentional. Examples of transphobic remarks include saying that transgender people are “confused” or “mentally ill,” making fun of someone’s voice or appearance, and using the wrong pronouns (e.g., calling a transgender woman “he”).

Transvestite

A person who dresses in the clothing typically associated with the opposite gender. Transvestites are typically cisgender men who dress in women’s clothing and vice versa.

The term “transvestite” is considered to be outdated and offensive by some people – see cross-dresser

Trigender

An individual whose gender identity is composed of three genders. Trigender people may identify as being both male and female, or as any combination of three different genders.

U

Umbrella Term

An umbrella term is a word or phrase that includes a group of people who have something in common. For example, the term “LGBTQIA+” is an umbrella term that includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual people.

The use of the word “umbrella” to describe an inclusive group is often seen as problematic because it implies that there is a “main” group (i.e., straight, cisgender people) with other groups beneath it. This can be seen as reinforcing the idea that LGBTQIA+ people are somehow “other” than or inferior to straight, cisgender people.

V

W

X

Y

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About the author

Joanne Lockwood administrator

SEE Change Happen: Transgender Awareness & Inclusion