LGBTQ+ Definitions and Meanings - Comprehensive Glossary (updated Sep. 2020)

Whether you're an ally or a part of the LGBTQ+ community, it can be a little overwhelming understanding the various terms and concepts that have evolved over the years. 

This guide, while not exhaustive or perfect, is designed to cover the basics and act as a point of reference for anyone familiarizing themselves with the correct terminology. 

See something that needs to be corrected or added? Please let us know here! 

LGBTQ+ Glossary

LGBPTTQQIIAA+ (Alphabet Soup): Any combination of letters (often just LGBT or LGBTQ+) attempting to represent all the identities in the queer community, this acronym one represents Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Intergender, Asexual, Allies. 

Ally: A person who aligns with and supports the LGBTQ+ community even though they themselves are not LGBTQ. 

AMAB/AFAB: Abbreviation for "assigned male at birth" and "assigned female at birth." Also see: CAMAB/CAFAB used denote the (C) coercive nature of gender assigned at birth often in a political statement. 

Androgynous: Identifying and/or presenting as neither distinguishably masculine or feminine. This can be a combination of masculine or feminine traits or a total lack thereof. 

Asexual: (Ace) An identity characterized by having little to no sexual attraction. Asexuality exists on a spectrum and can include romantic attraction to others. 

Aromantic: A romantic orientation characterized by having little to no romantic attraction. Aromantic people often engage in nonromantic relationships such as queer platonic partnerships, or relationships that have the same degree of commitment as romantic ones without the romantic aspect included. 

Biphobia: Prejudice, hatred, or ignorance directed towards bisexual people. 

BIPOC: Acronym for Black, Indigenous, People of Color. This is a more modern term that is used to highlight the specific racism and injustice that Black and Indigenous people experience in North America. 

Bisexual: A person who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to more than one gender. Please note, while the root bi does mean "two," many who identify under this label recognize that there are more than two genders. 

Cisgender: A term used to classify someone who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth. 

Cisnormative: A world view that promotes being cisgender as the "normal" or default experience. 

Closeted: An LGBTQ+ person who has not disclosed their LGBTQ+ status to others. 

Coming out: The process in which a person shares their LGBTQ+ status and may make requests for accommodations (such as new pronouns/names). 

Gay: A person who is attracted to members of the same gender. 

Gender dysphoria: Distress that can be caused when a person's gender identity does not match what they were assigned at birth. 

Gender expression: How one expresses their gender through appearance, behavior, or other external factors. Note: this is separate from gender identity as someone can express different aspects of gender as a whole or varying aspects of their own complex gender identity. 

Gender-fluid: A person who does not identify exclusively as any one gender. Someone who is gender fluid may express that fluidity on a day to day basis OR based on who they are interacting with. 

Gender identity: One’s innermost concept of their gender – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. 

Gender non-conforming | A broad term referring to people who's gender expression does not fit into traditional expectations of gender. 

Genderqueer: A person who does not subscribe to conventional notions of gender and/or who's gender identity does not fit into any single category. 

Gender transition: The process by which a transgender person takes active steps towards more closely aligning their internal experience of gender with the world around them. This can include but is not limited to socially and medically transitioning. 

Heteronormative: A world view that promotes heterosexuality as the "normal" or default experience. I.e. Assuming a woman is dating a man or that if someone is not "visibly" queer they are straight. 

Homophobia: The fear and hatred of or ignorance towards people who are attracted to the same gender. 

Intersex: An umbrella term used to describe a variety of situations in which a person is born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not fit the boxes of "male" and "female." Being intersex is a naturally occurring variation in human beings and does not require medical intervention - although historically, intersex people have been operated on without consent. 

Nonbinary: A term used to describe the spectrum of identities that fall outside of exclusively male or female. Similarly to being genderqueer or gender-fluid, nonbinary people can identify as any combination of different genders or not identify with gender altogether. 

Outing: The violent act of exposing someone's LGBTQ+ status to others without their express permission. Outing someone can have serious repercussions for someone's unemployment, personal safety, economic stability, and home life. 

Pansexual: Someone who is attracted to people of any gender and/or someone who doesn't have a preference for any one gender. 

POC: Acronym for People of Color. An umbrella term for non-white people. 

Pronouns: A word that is used in place of a noun - in this case it is used in place of someone's name. Some people within the LGBTQ+ community will use a single set of pronouns such as he/him/his but many use interchangeable pronouns such as he/she/they and some use gender-neutral pronouns like ze/zir/hir. 

QPOC/QTPOC: Acronym for Queer People of Color and Queer Trans People of Color. 

Queer: An umbrella term used to cover the expansive list of identities and orientations that exist. Often used interchangeably with LGBTQ+. Queer is a term that historically was used as a slur but has since been reclaimed by the LGBTQ+ community. 

Questioning: When someone is in the process of exploring their sexuality or gender identity. 

Same-gender loving: An alternate term to gay/lesbian/queer/bisexual to express attraction to and love of people of the same gender. This term originated in Black queer communities as an alternative way to describe and discuss their identity without having to use white-centric terminology. 

Sexual orientation: A classification used to describe ones pattern of emotional, physical, or romantic attraction. I.e. Heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, etc. 

Transgender: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity is different from what they were assigned at birth. 

Transfeminine: A trans person whose gender expression is primarily "feminine." 

Transmasculine: A trans person whose gender expression is primarily "masculine." 

Transphobia: The fear, hatred, or discrimination of transgender people.

Two-Spirit: Identity label used by many Native American and Canadian First nations indigenous groups to describe individuals that possess both "masculine" and "feminine" energies. 


See something that needs to be corrected or added? Please let us know here! 

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