Fear or hatred of bisexuals, sometimes manifesting in discrimination, isolation, harassment, or violence. Often biphobia is based on inaccurate stereotypes, including associations with infidelity, promiscuity, and transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. See also homophobia, transphobia
An individual who’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction is to people of more than one sex/gender. While some people call themselves pansexual or omnisexual, these terms should be avoided unless quoting someone who self-identifies that way.
VARIATIONS: Fluid, ambisexual, pansexual
AVOID: Bi-sexual, fence sitters, switch hitters, “try”-sexual
Describes people who identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. See also gender-variant
Describes people who are not open about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Note, though, that for a transgender person, being closeted is different from passing as one’s preferred gender, which does not have the negative connotation of hiding something (see passing below).
An individual who occasionally wears clothes traditionally associated with people of a different sex.
Cross-dressers are usually comfortable with the sex they were assigned at birth and do not wish to change it. “Cross-dresser” should NOT be used to describe someone who has transitioned to live full-time as a different sex, or who intends to do so in the future. Some people prefer to use the term transvestite to describe themselves, but it is not universally accepted and should be avoided unless quoting someone who self-identifies that way. See also gender expression
A romantic pairing involving two people of different sexes. The individuals involved may identify with any sexual orientation.
AVOID: Opposite-sex couple, straight couple, heterosexual couple
Drag Queen, Drag King
An individual who wears clothes traditionally associated with people of a different sex primarily as a costume or persona, usually in the context of a public event or performance. The outfits of drag queens/kings often include elements that are exaggerated or over the top, such as elaborate gowns or fake facial hair. See also gender expression
Traditionally a pejorative term, dyke has been reclaimed by many lesbian and bisexual women to describe themselves. Some value the term for its defiance. Nevertheless, it is not universally accepted and should be avoided unless quoting someone who self-identifies that way.
VARIATIONS: Bi dyke
An individual who’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction is to people of the same sex. The term usually applies specifically to men. In contemporary contexts, lesbian is often a preferred term for women, though some women of colour, working-class women, and older women still describe themselves as gay. Avoid using gay as a collective adjective when LGBT would be more accurate (for example, LGBT movement rather than gay movement).
VARIATIONS: Man-loving man
AVOID: Homosexual, fag
One’s internal, personal sense of being male, female, or third-gender. For transgender and thirdgender people, their birth-assigned sex and their own internal sense of gender identity do not match.
Gender Identity Disorder (GID)
A controversial DSM-IV diagnosis given to transgender and other gender-variant people. Because it labels people as “disordered,” gender identity disorder is often considered offensive. Replaces the outdated term gender dysphoria.
External manifestation of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through “masculine,” “feminine,” or gender-variant behaviour (including interests and mannerisms), clothing, haircut, voice, or body characteristics.
Refers to anyone whose gender identity varies from the male/female binary, including transgender and third-gender people.
The set of power relations that normalize and regiment sexuality, marginalizing everything outside the ideals of heterosexuality, monogamy, and gender conformity.
Heterosexism; Heterosexual Privilege
Heterosexism is the attitude that heterosexuality is the only valid sexual orientation. It often takes the form of ignoring bisexuals, gay men, and lesbians. Heterosexual privilege refers to the benefits granted automatically to heterosexual people that are denied to bisexuals, gay men, and lesbians.
Bisexuals are sometimes accused of hiding behind “heterosexual” privilege when they are in different-sex couples.
An individual who’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction is to people of a different sex.
Fear or hatred of lesbians and gay men, sometimes manifesting in discrimination, isolation, harassment, or violence. Prejudice is usually a more accurate description of hatred or antipathy toward LGBT people. See also biphobia, transphobia
Intersex; Person with Intersex
Describes a person whose biological sex is ambiguous. There are many genetic, hormonal, or anatomical variations that can make a person’s sex ambiguous (such as Klinefelter Syndrome or adrenal hyperplasia).
VARIATIONS: Disorder of sex development; person with an intersex condition
AVOID: Hermaphroditism; hermaphrodite
A woman who’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction is to other women.
VARIATIONS: Woman-loving woman
Acronym for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.” LGBT and/or GLBT are often used because they are more inclusive of the diversity of the community.
VARIATIONS: GLBT, BGLT, LGBTQ (queer), LGBTQQ (queer, questioning), LGBTQQI (queer, questioning, intersex)
Access to civil marriage regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. If necessary to distinguish between different types of rights, benefits, etc., use same-sex marriage and different-sex marriage. However, because same-sex couples are seeking access to an existing structure rather than trying to create a new one, it is preferable to refer to marriage equality whenever possible.
AVOID: Gay marriage
Men who have sex with men. This term is used, particularly in research, to describe sexual behaviour as distinct from sexual orientation.
Men who have sex with men and women. This term is used, particularly in research, to describe sexual behaviour as distinct from sexual orientation.
Describes people who self-identify as bisexual/gay/lesbian/transgender in their public and/or professional lives. Unless the openness is important in context, it is preferable simply to describe the person as bisexual, gay, lesbian, or transgender.
Being out describes a person who is open about being bisexual, gay, lesbian, or transgender. Coming out is a lifelong process of self-acceptance of one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. People forge an identity first for themselves and then may reveal it to others. Publicly identifying one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity may or may not be part of coming out. Outing is the act of publicly declaring or revealing another person’s sexual orientation (sometimes based on rumour and/or speculation) without that person’s consent; it is considered inappropriate by a large portion of the LGBT community.
When applied to a transgender person, describes someone living as her/his preferred gender without (or rarely) being questioned. However, when applied to a bisexual, gay, or lesbian person, the word takes on a negative connotation (see also closeted).
Traditionally a pejorative term, queer has been appropriated by some LGBT people to describe themselves; some value the term for its defiance and because it can be inclusive of the entire LGBT community. Nevertheless, it is not universally accepted even within the LGBT community and should be avoided unless quoting someone who self-identifies that way.
Refers to people who are uncertain as to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. They are often seeking information and support during this stage of their identity development.
A romantic pairing involving two people of the same sex. The individuals involved may identify with any sexual orientation.
AVOID: Gay couple, lesbian couple, homosexual couple
The classification of people as male or female. At birth, infants are assigned a sex based on a combination of bodily characteristics, including chromosomes, hormones, internal reproductive organs, and genitals. See also intersex
Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS)
Refers to surgical alteration for transgender people (see transition). Not all transgender people choose to or can afford to have SRS.
AVOID: Sex change operation
The scientifically accurate term for an individual’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction to members of the same and/or different sex, including bisexual, gay, heterosexual, and lesbian orientations. Also note that gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same; transgender people may be bisexual, gay, heterosexual, or lesbian.
AVOID: Lifestyle, sexual preference
Refers to people who identify their gender as not conforming to the traditional western model of gender as binary. They may identify their gender as combining aspects of women and men or as being neither women nor men.
VARIATIONS: Androgynous, androgyne, polygender
Transgender; Transgender Person
An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. Transgender people may or may not choose to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically. The term may include but is not limited to transsexuals, thirdgender/genderqueer people, cross-dressers, and other gender-variant people. Use the descriptive terms (transgender, transsexual, cross-dresser, female-to-male [FTM], trans man, male-to-female
[MTF], trans woman) and pronouns preferred by the individual.
AVOID: She-male, he-she, it, trannie, tranny, gender-bender
The multi-step process of altering one’s birth sex over a long period of time. The cultural, legal, and medical adjustments made as part of transitioning may include telling one’s family, friends, and/or co-workers; using different pronouns to describe oneself; changing one’s name and/or sex on legal documents; beginning hormone therapy; and/or possibly (though not always) undergoing some form of surgical alteration.
AVOID: Sex change; pre-operative, post-operative
Fear or hatred of transgender people, sometimes manifesting in discrimination, isolation, harassment, or violence. See also biphobia, homophobia
An older term which originated in the medical and psychological communities. Many transgender people prefer the term “transgender” to “transsexual.” Some transsexual people still prefer to use the term to describe themselves. However, unlike transgender, transsexual is not an umbrella term, and many transgender people do not identify as transsexual. It is best to ask which term an individual prefers.
A term often used in Native American/First Nation cultures to describe people whose sexual orientation and/or gender identity falls beyond binary definitions. Historically, these individuals crossed gender boundaries and were accepted (sometimes revered) by Native/First Nation cultures.
Women who have sex with men and women. This term is used, particularly in research, to describe sexual behaviour as distinct from sexual orientation.
Women who have sex with women. This term is used, particularly in research, to describe sexual behaviour as distinct from sexual orientation.