LGBTQ+ Glossary

Terms Frequently Used in Pizza Klatch

This is a list of words that often come up within the LGBTQ+ community. It is by no means a complete list, and there are many people who have different ideas of what some of these words mean. If you have any suggestions about how we can make this list better, let us know at info@pizzaklatch.org.

Six Basic Definitions

Cisgender
A gender identity, or performance in a gender role, that society deems to match the person’s assigned sex at birth.  The prefix cis- means “on this side of” or “not across.” A term used to call attention to the privilege of people who are not transgender.

Gender Identity
One’s internal, personal sense of their own gender. Since gender is a social construct, an individual may have a self perception of their gender that is different or the same as their assigned gender or sex at birth. Gender identity is an internalized realization of one’s gender and may not be manifested in their outward appearance (gender expression) or their place in society (gender role). It is important to note that an individual’s gender identity is completely separate from their sexual orientation or sexual preference.

Gender Expression
The external manifestation of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut, voice or body characteristics.

Sex
A medically constructed categorization. Sex is often assigned based on the appearance of the genitalia and includes a set of genetic, chemical and anatomical characteristics that we are either born with or that develop as we mature.

Sexual Orientation
The nature of an individual’s physical, romantic, emotional and/or spiritual attraction to another person. Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same. Trans and gender-variant people may identify with any sexual orientation, and their sexual orientation may or may not change before, during or after gender transition.

Transgender
Adjective used most often as an umbrella term, and frequently abbreviated to “trans” describing people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. While some transgender folx choose to medically transition (hormone treatment/surgery) as well as socially transition (name/pronoun change, change in gender expression), it’s important to note not all transgender people can or will take those steps, and a transgender identity is not dependent upon physical appearance or medical procedures. Also, inquiring on the state of a transgender person’s physical anatomy is extremely inappropriate (aka no one wants to be asked about their private parts). Important to note that trans and transgender are adjectives and should not be used as nouns such as “a transgender” or “a trans” which are dehumanizing to trans folx. Similarly someone should not be described as “transgendered” as this implies being transgender is an act rather than a descriptor for ones gender identity and is also considered dehumanizing language.

A Full Glossary

Ace
In the context of sexuality, an abbreviation for asexual.

Agender
A chosen or felt lack of gender identity.

AFAB and AMAB
Acronyms meaning “assigned female/male at birth” (also designated female/male at birth or female/male assigned at birth). No one, whether cis or trans, gets to choose what sex they’re assigned at birth. This term is preferred to “biological male/female”, “male/female bodied”, “natal male/female”, and “born male/female”, which are defamatory and inaccurate.

Allosexism
The pervasive system of discrimination and exclusion that oppresses asexual people.

Allosexual
A sexual orientation generally characterized by feeling sexual attraction or a desire for partnered sexuality.

Androgyne
An older term referring to a person identifying and/or expressing gender outside of the gender binary, historically meaning a combination of both masculine and feminine presentations considered to be gender neutral at the time.  Other terms used include gender variant, genderqueer, and gender non-conformist. Some folx in the LGBTQ+ community are moving away from the term due to it’s history not being rooted within the LGBTQ+ community, but rather a label placed upon them by others.

Androgyny
An older term used to describe a type of gender expression that historically was considered a mix of masculine and feminine, considered gender neutral for the time, also seen as neither distinctly “female” nor “male.” Some folx in the LGBTQ+ community are moving away from the term due to it’s history not being rooted within the LGBTQ+ community, but rather being labeled placed upon them by others.

Aromantic
Not having an interest in romantic relationships.

Asexual
In the context of human sexuality, someone who either does not experience or has not yet experienced any sexual desires at all, or who has experienced/does experience sexual desires, but not a desire to enact them with other individuals. Not to be confused with celibacy, the deliberate abstention from sexual activity, as asexual folx may engage in sexual activity for the benefit of their sexual partners. 

Assigned Sex
The sex/gender one is considered to be at birth based on a cursory examination of external genitalia, a current societal practice by many medical doctors. This determination is often marked on birth certificates.

Bigender
Refers to those who identify as two genders. Can also identify as multigender (identifying as two or more genders). Do not confuse this term with Two-Spirit, which is specifically associated with Native American, Indigenous and First Nations cultures.

Binary
Made up of two things or parts; a system with only two possible options or parts. Used often to describe the gender binary, meaning the idea of gender only encompassing two identities, male and female. See the gender binary.

Binding
Compressing or concealing the breasts so as to present a more male, masculine or gender non-conforming appearing chest.

Biphobia
Fear or hatred of, aversion to, and discrimination against bisexuals and bisexual behaviour. Biphobia exerts a powerful, negative force on the lives of bisexual people. Some examples of biphobia in action are disparaging jokes, verbal abuse or acts of violence targeted at bisexual people, or the dismissal of bisexuality as an inferior, invalid or irrelevant expression of sexuality. Bisexual people often face biphobia and discrimination in both queer and non-queer communities. Many folx are trying to move away from this term as well as “homophobia” and “transphobia” because they inaccurately describe systems of oppression as irrational fears. For some people, phobias are a very distressing part of their lived experience and co-opting this language is disrespectful to their experiences and perpetuates ableism. See Heterosexism.

Bisexual
A term for a sexual orientation which either describes a person who can be sexually and emotionally attracted to both men and women or merely to people of more than one gender. Many bisexual folx describe the duality of their sexuality to mean attracted to “my gender and all other genders.” 

Butch
Describes a person who is intentionally masculine in appearance, behavior, dress, identity or sexual attitude. Most often used in the LGBTQ+ community, but can refer to people of any orientation. However, some people see use of the word “butch” as an insult.

Ciscentrism
A system of attitudes, bias and discrimination in favour of cisgender identities that marginalizes and renders invisible trans people and treats their needs and identities as less important than those of cisgender people.

Cisgender
A gender identity, or performance in a gender role, that society deems to match the person’s assigned sex at birth.  The prefix cis- means “on this side of” or “not across.” A term used to call attention to the privilege of people who are not transgender. Cis gender, also interchangeable with cis, is not a pejorative or prejudiced term.

Cissexism
Systemic prejudice in the favor of cisgender people.

Cissexual/Cisgender privilege
The double standard that promotes the idea that transgender identities are negatively distinct from, and less legitimate than, cisgender identities. They are a set of unearned advantages that individuals who identify with their assigned sex at birth accrue solely due to having a cisgender identity.

Closeted or in the closet
Hiding one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Coming Out
The process by which people publicly recognize, acknowledge, accept and typically appreciate their sexual orientation or gender identities.

Demigender
(from demi “half” + “gender”) is an umbrella term for nonbinary gender identities that have a partial connection to a certain gender. This includes the partly female identity demigirl, and the partly male identity demiboy.

Demisexual
A sexual orientation characterized by only experiencing sexual attraction after making a strong emotional connection with a specific person. A demisexual identity is a useful indicator for where a person might fall on the asexual spectrum.

Drag
Refers to people who dress in a showy or flamboyant way that exaggerates gender stereotypes, often for entertainment purposes. ‘Drag’ is a term that is often associated with gay/ lesbian communities and is often replaced with ‘Drag King’ and ‘Drag Queen.’ Some people who perform professionally outside gay/lesbian communities prefer the term ‘male/female impersonator.’

Dyadic
Dyadic people were born with sex characteristics which could be categorized into one of the binary genders. Dyadic people can have any gender identity, including transgender. Often used to categorize those who are not intersex.

Dyke
A term that has a history of being used as an insult to describe a lesbian, but has also been reclaimed by lesbians as a positive term.

FTM (Female to Male Spectrum)
A somewhat outdated term, often in acronym form, used by some folx to refer to someone assigned female at birth, but who identifies or expresses their gender as male all or part of the time. Some people prefer the term AFAB, as this does not imply that they were once female-identified or were born a woman.

Femme
A term that some queer people use to describe gender expression and/or social and relationship roles that are perceived by many as being feminine.

Folx
The spelling of the Engligh word “folks” with an “x” is often used in LGBTQ+ inclusive spaces as a visual representation of the inclusion of gender variant identities when addressing groups of people. While the original word was intended to be genderless, the history of the genderless meaning was to combine binary men and women. Folks as originally spelled is not inherently offensive or exclusive, but the visual addition of “x” is simply used as a way to make the inclusion of gender variant identities intentional, rather than coincidental. It is pronounced the same way as folks.

Gay
In the context of sexuality, a word for sexual orientation which either describes a man who is sexually and emotionally attracted to other men, or a person of any sex or gender who is sexually and emotionally attracted to people of the same or a similar sex or gender. 

Gender affirming surgery
Refers to surgical procedures that may be included in part of some trans folx transition. Only the minority of transgender people choose to and can afford to have gender affirming surgeries. The following terms are inaccurate, offensive, or outdated: sex change operation, gender reassignment/realignment surgery (gender is not changed due to surgery), gender confirmation/confirming surgery (genitalia do not confirm gender), and sex reassignment/realignment surgery (as it insinuates a single surgery is required to transition along with sex being an ambiguous term).

The Gender Binary
A system of viewing gender as consisting solely of two, opposite categories, termed “male and female”, in which no other possibilities for gender or anatomy are believed to exist. This system is oppressive to anyone who defies their sex assigned at birth, but particularly those who are gender-variant or do not fit neatly into one of the two standard categories.

Gender
The social construction of concepts such as masculinity and femininity in a specific culture in time. It involves gender assignment (the gender designation of someone at birth), gender roles (the expectations imposed on someone based on their gender), gender attribution (how others perceive someone’s gender), and gender identity (how someone defines their own gender). Fundamentally different from the sex one is assigned at birth.

Gender attribution / gender perception
The process of making assumptions about another person’s gender, based on factors such as choice of dress, voice modulation, body shape, etc. 4 A related term is ‘reading,’ which refers to the process where factors such as someone’s body shape, voice, gender expression, etc. are used to make assumptions about that someone’s gender identity, sex assigned at birth, or sexual orientation. Making assumptions is a major cause of exclusion and disrespect towards others.

Gender dysphoria
Discomfort with an assigned sex and/or gender and/or the gender norms and roles associated with either.

Gender expression
The external manifestation of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut, voice or body characteristics.

Gender Fluid
A person whose gender identification and presentation shifts, whether within or outside of societal, gender-based expectations. Being fluid in motion between two or more genders.

Gender Identity
One’s internal, personal sense of their own gender. Since gender is a social construct, an individual may have a self perception of their gender that is different or the same as their assigned gender or sex at birth. Gender identity is an internalized realization of one’s gender and may not be manifested in their outward appearance (gender expression) or their place in society (gender role). It is important to note that an individual’s gender identity is completely separate from their sexual orientation or sexual preference.

Gender identity disorder / GID
A controversial DSM-III and DSM-IV diagnosis given to transgender and other gender-nonconforming people. Because it labels people as “disordered,” Gender Identity Disorder is often considered offensive. The diagnosis is frequently given to children who don’t conform to expected gender norms in terms of dress, play or behavior. Such children are often subjected to intense psychotherapy, behavior modification and/or institutionalization. This term was replaced by the term “gender dysphoria” in the DSM-5.

Gender nonconforming
This term refers to people who do not conform to society’s expectations for their gender roles or gender expression. Some people prefer the term ‘gender variant’ among other terms.

Gendernormative
What is considered “normal” for a given gender or sex, even if it’s not. These ideas may be widespread, or may be specific to a given group, area or historical period of time.

Genderqueer
A term under the trans umbrella which refers to people who identify outside of the male-female binary they were assigned at birth. Genderqueer people may experience erasure if they are perceived as cisgender. Genderqueer people who are perceived as genderqueer are often subjected to gender policing. Related but not interchangeable terms include ‘gender outlaw’, ‘gender variant’, ‘gender non-conformist’, ‘third gender’, ‘bigender’, and ‘pangender’.

Gender role
Clothing, characteristics, traits and behaviors culturally associated with masculinity and/or femininity.

Gender variant
A term that describes individuals who stray from socially accepted gender roles.

Gray asexuality
Sometimes known as “gray ace”, this is the concept and community of individuals falling under the “ace umbrella,” or in the spectrum between identifying as asexual and engaging in sexual activity.

Heteronormative / Heteronormativity
These terms refer to the assumption that heterosexuality is the norm, which plays out in interpersonal interactions and society and furthers the marginalization of queer people.

Heterosexual
Someone who is only or mostly emotionally and sexually attracted to people of a different sex or gender than they are themselves.

Heterosexism
The societal/cultural, institutional and individual beliefs and practices that privilege heterosexuals and subordinate and denigrate lesbians, gay men, bisexual/pansexual people and other queer folx. The critical element that differentiates heterosexism (or any other “ism”) from prejudice and discrimination is the use of institutional power and authority to support prejudices and enforce discriminatory behaviors in systematic ways with far-reaching outcomes and effects.

Heterosexual Ally
Heterosexual people who confront heterosexism in themselves and others out of self-interest, a concern for the well-being of lesbians, gay men and bisexual/pansexual people, and a belief that heterosexism is a social injustice.

Heterosexual Privilege
The benefits and advantages that heterosexuals or those that maybe perceived or intend to be perceived as heterosexual receive in a heterosexist culture.

Homophobia
Literally, the fear of homosexuals and homosexuality; however, this term is generally applied to anyone who dislikes LGBTIQ people, who uses derogatory sexuality- or gender-based terms, or who feels that LGBTIQ people want “special rights” and not “equal rights.” Homophobic behavior can range from telling jokes about lesbians and gay men to verbal abuse and even acts of physical violence. Many folx are trying to move away from this term as well as “biophobia” and “transphobia” because they inaccurately describe systems of oppression as irrational fears. For some people, phobias are a very distressing part of their lived experience and co-opting this language is disrespectful to their experiences and perpetuates ableism. See Heterosexism.

Homosexual
An outdated term to describe a sexual orientation in which a person feels physically and emotionally attracted to people of the same gender. Historically, it was a term used to pathologize gay and lesbian people. The medical history of the term causes it’s use to be seen as dehumanizing.

Identity
The defining character or personality of an individual; who we feel like we are as a person. Identity is often used to talk about sexual identity — who we are as sexual people, which can include things like our sexual orientation, our preferences and things we like and want in sexual or romantic relationships and sexuality, our sexual politics — or gender identity, who we feel we are and identify as (even if only to ourselves) in terms of our gender.

Intersex
Adjective used to describe the experience of naturally developing primary or secondary sex characteristics that do not fit neatly into society’s definitions of the gender binary. Intersex is an umbrella term and there are around 20+ (that we know of) variations of intersex that are included in this umbrella term. Many visibly Intersex people are mutilated in infancy and early childhood by doctors to make the individual’s sex characteristics conform to society’s idea of what binary bodies should look like. Intersex people are relatively common, although society’s denial of their existence has allowed very little room for intersex issues to be discussed publicly. Hermaphrodite is an outdated and inaccurate term that has been used to describe intersex people in the past.

Lesbian
Describes the sexual orientation of a woman who is sexually and/or emotionally attracted only or mostly to other women.

LGBTQ+
Most commonly used acronym to describe the queer and trans community. L = lesbian, G = gay, B = bisexual, T = transgender, Q = queer or questioning. Additional letters include U = unsure, I = intersex, P = pansexual, A= asexual, 2s = two spirit. The “G” can also stand for Gender Non-Binary, Gender Fluid, Genderqueer and Gender non-conforming. Representations may vary depending on the identities of the user or the community it’s encompassing. The “+” is usually added to denote there are further letters included in the acronym. 

MTF (Male to Female Spectrum)
Generally used to refer to anyone assigned male at birth but who identifies or expresses their gender as a female all or part of the time. Some people prefer the term AMAB, as this does not imply that they were once male-identified or were “born” a man.

Masculine
Describes something society associates with or attributes to men and boys or a state, experience or assignment of being male.

Monogamous
In the context of sexual or romantic relationships, people choosing to be with each other sexually or romantically exclusively; to only have one sexual or romantic partner at a time.

Nonbinary (Also Non-Binary)
Preferred umbrella term for all genders other than female/male or woman/man, used as an adjective (e.g. Jesse is a nonbinary person). Not all nonbinary people identify as trans and not all trans people identify as nonbinary. Sometimes (and increasingly), nonbinary can be used to describe the aesthetic/presentation/expression of a cisgender or transgender person.

Omnigender
Possessing all genders. The term is used specifically to refute the concept of only two genders.

Omnisexual
An omnisexual individual is someone who is attracted to persons of all genders and orientations. The term is often used as a synonym for pansexual. See pansexual for comparison to bisexual.

Out or out of the closet
To be openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or intersex.

Outing
When someone discloses information about another’s sexual orientation or gender identity without that person’s knowledge and/or consent.

Packing
The act of wearing padding or a phallic object in the front of the pants or underwear to give the appearance of having a penis and or genital bulge.

Pansexual
A sexual orientation that describes someone who has romantic, sexual or affectional desire for people of all genders and sexes. Some folx consider pansexual a more inclusive term than bisexual, a term which is thought by some to support or imply that gender is binary (though most bisexual folx do not define their sexuality this way). It is important to note that many folx that are bisexual consider the definition of “bi” meaning “two” to include their own gender and other genders. Bisexuality as a sexual orientation is not by definition, exlusionary nor does it inherently mean someone is only attracted sexually or romantically to binary men and women.

Passing/to pass:
A term sometimes used to refer to the state of an LGBTQ+ person not being visibly recognizable as LGBTQ+. This term is most commonly used in relation to trans people. People who ‘pass’ may experience less queer-phobia and discrimination. Some LGBTQ+ people consider ‘passing’ to be very important for them, while others feel that choosing not to pass is an act of rejecting heterosexism, cissexism and ciscentricism. ‘Passing’ is a contested term since it may connote ‘a passing grade’ or ‘passing something illegitimate off’, or it may imply external pressure to strive towards being ‘read’ a certain way (See: Gender attribution).

Polyamorous
People choosing to have more than one sexual or romantic partner at a time. Polyamory usually implies that this is wanted by all parties, negotiated and agreed upon. Polyamory is not “cheating,” unless someone breaks the agreements they have made in polyamorous relationships.

QTPOC
An acronym for Queer Trans People Of Color. Another term used is QTIPOC (Queer, Transgender, and Intersex People of Color). Queer people of color often experience intersecting oppression on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation and other factors.

Queer
In the context of sexuality, a broad term for sexual orientation that can describe any number of orientations which are not heterosexual. People who identify as queer may be bisexual or pansexual, gay or lesbian, questioning, asexual or more. It has also been used as an all encompassing term for the LGBTQ+ community, though often focused on sexual orientation rather than gender identity. For example, not all transgender folx identify as queer and many can and do identify as heterosexual. 

Questioning
A term sometimes used by those in the process of exploring personal issues of sexual orientation and gender identity as well as choosing not to identify with any other label.

QUILTBAG
An acronym used to express the following sexual and gender identities/groups: Q, Queer and/or Questioning, U, Unidentified, I, Intersex, L, Lesbian, T, Trans, B, Bisexual, A, Asexual (and/or) Allies, G, Gay and/or Genderqueer (GQ).

Reclaimed language
Language that has traditionally been used to hurt and degrade a community but which community members have reclaimed and used as their own. Reclaimed language can be extremely important as a way of taking the negative power out of a word, claiming space, and empowering oneself. However, reclaimed language is also tricky and, depending on the context and the speaker, can be hurtful and dangerous. Some examples are ‘dyke’, ‘fag’, ‘homo’, ‘queen’, and ‘queer’. Although these terms can be used in a positive way by those reclaiming them, it is still offensive to hear them used by others whose intent is to hurt or who are not members of said community.

Sexism
Sexism is prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender. It is part of a systemic form of oppression, involving ingrained and institutionalized prejudice against or hatred of cis and trans women, trans feminine individuals and AFAB non-binary folx. Sexism can affect anyone, including the oppression of femme presenting cis and trans men as well as AMAB folx, but it primarily oppresses cis and trans women and girls as well as trans feminine and AFAB non-binary folx. Trans women experience a compounded form of sexism including cissexism as well as both misogyny and trans misogyny.

Sexual orientation
The nature of an individual’s physical, romantic, emotional and/or spiritual attraction to another person. Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same. Trans and gender-variant people may identify with any sexual orientation, and their sexual orientation may or may not change before, during or after gender transition.

Stealth
A slang term that has historically been used to describe a transgender person who may not be openly transgender in all or almost all social situations. Is widely considered to be an offensive term when used by cisgender folx and others outside of the community.

Straight
Slang term for heterosexual.

Transfeminine
This term may describe people who identify as trans, and who identify their gender expression as feminine.

Trans-friendly
Describes organizations or institutions that are open, affirming and accepting of trans people and their social, political and cultural needs.

Transphobia
The fear of, discrimination against, or hatred of trans people or the trans community. Many folx are trying to move away from this term as well as “homophobia” and “biphobia” because they inaccurately describe systems of oppression as irrational fears and for some people, phobias are a very distressing part of their lived experience and co-opting this language is disrespectful to their experiences and perpetuates ableism. See Cissexism.

Transsexual
A medical term that many consider to be outdated, even offensive, to describe someone who is transgender that has chosen to have some form of gender affirming surgeries as part of their physical transition. As this term has been used to create an division between trans folx as well as was created by medical doctors defining the trans community in clinical and sometimes dehumanizing ways, it’s often not used within the trans community and should not be used by cisgender folks to describe trans folx.

Transition
Refers to the process during which trans folx may change their gender expression and/or bodies to reflect their gender identity or sexual identity. There are aspects of transitioning known as both physical and social transition. This may involve a change in physical appearance (hairstyle, clothing), behavior (mannerisms, voice, gender roles), and/or identification (name, pronoun, legal details). It may be accompanied by changes to the body such as the use of hormones to change secondary sex characteristics (e.g. breasts, facial hair).

Transgender / Trans
Adjective used most often as an umbrella term, and frequently abbreviated to “trans” describing people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. While some transgender folx choose to medically transition (hormone treatment/surgery) as well as socially transition (name/pronoun change, change in gender expression), it’s important to note not all transgender people can or will take those steps, and a transgender identity is not dependent upon physical appearance or medical procedures. Also, inquiring on the state of a transgender person’s physical anatomy is extremely inappropriate (aka no one wants to be asked about their private parts). Important to note that trans and transgender are adjectives and should not be used as nouns such as “a transgender” or “a trans” which are dehumanizing to trans folx. Similarly someone should not be described as “transgendered” as this implies being transgender is an act rather than a descriptor for ones gender identity and is also considered dehumanizing language.

Trans man
This term describes someone who identifies as trans and whose gender identity is male. Note it is two separate words as trans is an adjective and not a noun.

Transmasculine
This term describes people who identify as trans and who identify their gender expression as masculine.

Transmisogyny
Originally coined by the author Julia Serano, this term designates the intersectionality of transphobia and misogyny and how they are often experienced as a form of oppression by trans women.

Two spirit
“Two-spirit” refers to a person who identifies as having both a masculine and a feminine spirit, and is used by some Indigenous people to describe their sexual, gender and/or spiritual identity. As an umbrella term it may encompass same-sex attraction and a wide variety of gender variance, including people who might be described in Western culture as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, gender queer, cross-dressers or who have multiple gender identities. Two-spirit can also include relationships that could be considered poly. The creation of the term “two-spirit” is attributed to Albert McLeod, who proposed its use during the Third Annual Inter-tribal Native American, First Nations, Gay and Lesbian American Conference, held in Winnipeg in 1990. The term is a translation of the Anishinaabemowin term niizh manidoowag, two spirits. It’s important to note that two spirit is an identity that is exclusively for Native American, Indigenous and First Nation peoples and should not be used by non-Indigenous folx.

Ze / Hir
Gender-inclusive pronouns used to avoid relying on a gender binary-based linguistic system, or making assumptions about other people’s gender. An example of these terms being used in a sentence is ‘Ze talked to hir partner about pronouns’. Some people instead choose to use plural pronouns such as ‘They’ and ‘Their’, or similar options. An example of this would be ‘They talked to their partner about pronouns’.