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Glossary of terms

This is a list of some of the words and phrases that can be associated with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ). It covers terms related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Ally

Generally used to describe a person who supports equal civil rights, LGBTQ and gender equality, LGBTQ social movements, and who challenges homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

Androgyne

Being androgyne means that your gender identity is androgynous – both male and female.

Androsexual

Being androsexual means you only have sexual feelings towards men, regardless of your own gender.

Asexual

Being asexual means you are not interested in, or do not desire, sexual activity with anyone of any gender.

Binary gender system

A system that forces people into one of two categories – either male or female (man or woman, boy or girl). In this system men and women are also generally expected to look and behave in a particular way.

Biphobia

The dislike, fear or hatred of people who are bisexual.

Bisexual

Being bisexual means you are emotionally and physically attracted to more than one gender – in most cases, this means both girls/women and boys/men.

Cisgender

Being cisgender means that your gender identity matches the gender you were assigned at birth.

Coming out

Acknowledging to yourself or to others that you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ).

Demisexual

Being demisexual means you need to form a strong emotional connection with someone before you will find them attractive sexually.

Discrimination

When you are treated less favourably than someone else because of something about you, such as your real or perceived sexual orientation.

Gay

Being gay means you are emotionally and physically attracted to someone of the same sex or gender. It is generally used to refer to boys or men who are emotionally and physically attracted to other boys or men. Some girls and women prefer to refer to themselves as gay rather than lesbian.

Gender identity

A person’s perception of their own gender.

Genderfluid

Someone or something that is genderfluid has a flexible definition of gender. For example, this could mean a country or community that recognises more than two genders. Or it could refer to a person who does not identify with a single gender, or who moves between genders.

Genderless

Someone or something that has no gender identity.

Gender stereotype

The assumption that people of a particular gender must carry out distinct roles, or act in a specific way.

Genderqueer

Being genderqueer usually means the same thing as having a non-binary gender – your gender identity is neither exclusively male nor exclusively female.

Gender variant

People who are gender variant can identify as both sexes and may present themselves in a way that’s unusual for most people of their biological sex. They could be androgynous (both male and female), or identify as a masculine female or feminine male.

Gynsexual

Being gynsexual means you only have sexual feelings towards women, regardless of your own gender.

Heterosexual

Being heterosexual means you are emotionally and physically attracted to people of the opposite sex or gender. Another commonly used word for this is ‘straight’.

Heterosexism

A system of beliefs and behaviours based on the assumption that heterosexuality is better than homosexuality. This is very closely related to homophobia.

Homophobia

The dislike, fear or hatred of people who are gay or lesbian. It is often used to describe prejudice towards bisexual and transgender people too, but the terms biphobia and transphobia are becoming more commonly used.

Homophobic bullying

Homophobic bullying is when someone’s actual or perceived LGBTQ sexual orientation or non-binary gender identity is used to exclude, threaten, hurt or humiliate them.

Homosexual

Being homosexual means you are emotionally or physically attracted to people of the same sex. These days people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) rarely use this term to describe themselves. This is because it has historically been used to medicalise or criminalise LGB people. The terms lesbian, gay and bisexual are generally preferable.

Internalised homophobia

Negative feelings that a person has about being gay, lesbian or bisexual themselves. This can affect the way they see themselves.

Intersex

Someone who is intersex is born with sexual anatomy, reproductive organs and/or chromosome patterns that do not fit into the typical definition of a male or female biological sex.

Lesbian

Being a lesbian means you are a girl or woman who is emotionally and physically attracted to other girls or women.

LGBT

Acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

LGBTQ

Acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning. A general term commonly used in European Union countries.

Non-binary gender

A gender that is neither exclusively male nor exclusively female. This can also be known as genderqueer.

Out

Being open about your sexual orientation or transgender identity.

Pansexual

Someone who is pansexual is not limited in sexual choice based on biological sex, gender or gender identity.

Polysexual

Similar in meaning to pansexual. Someone who is polysexual is not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender or gender identity.

Pride festival

An annual festival to celebrate being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning.

Queer

Identifying as queer means that you don’t want your sexual orientation to be reduced to a specific term, such as heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. Lots of different people identify as queer, and many of them think the binary gender system is too limiting. This term is also often used by and about people who are traditionally seen as lesbian or gay.

Questioning

Someone who is questioning in relation to LGBTQ issues is still establishing their sexual and/or gender identity.

Sex

A person’s biological sex is indicated by their genitals, internal reproductive system, chromosomes and secondary sexual characteristics, such as breasts, facial and body hair, voice and body shape. In the context of gender identity, sex is often used to mean biological sex rather than the act of having sex.

Sexual orientation

A term used to describe who a person is emotionally and physically attracted to. For example, a person who is attracted to the opposite sex or gender might describe their sexual orientation as straight.

Sexuality

Everybody has a sexuality – it describes a person’s sexual experiences and expression. It includes a person’s sexual orientation, sexual practice and behaviour. It also involves cultural and social expectations and behaviours.

Skoliosexual

Being skoliosexual means you have a potential sexual attraction to people who have a non-binary gender identity. This is an inclusive term and doesn’t generally describe an attraction to specific genitalia or birth assignments.

Straight

Being straight means you are emotionally and physically attracted to people of the opposite gender.

Trans

This is a general term that applies to a range of people whose gender identity or gender expression differs in some way from the assumptions made about them when they were born. This includes men and women who are transgender, people who are intersex, androgyne or polygender, and people who cross-dress.

Transgender/transsexual

Being transgender or transsexual means that you feel that your personal gender identity does not fit with either your biological sex, or with the expectations that society puts onto your gender.

Transman

A person who was born female, and sees themselves as male. Their gender identity is male.

Transperson

A person who chooses not to conform with, or doesn’t fit in with, a binary gender system. They may identify as a transman or transwoman, or as something else entirely, such as genderqueer. There are many different trans identities, and trans does not only refer to people who have had (or want to have) gender-reassignment surgery.

Transphobia

The dislike, fear or hatred of people who are transgender.

Transwoman

A person who was born male, and sees themselves as female. Their gender identity is female.

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