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LGBTQIA+ Glossary

This glossary is designed merely as a guide to describe some key terms. It’s not perfect.

The experience of being LGBTQIA+ is also constantly changing. Some of the terminology and norms that we have today are totally different to how it was 10 years ago.



The experience of feeling little or no romantic attraction for anyone. Some aromantic people experience sexual attraction and other people don’t



A sexual orientation that includes feeling little to no sexual attraction for anyone. Asexuality isn’t the same as celibacy, which is a choice. Some asexual people do have sex and some experience other forms of attraction, like romantic attraction.


Assigned Female at Birth/AFAB:

Someone who was initially described/labelled as female when they were born. This term is mainly used for trans men and trans-masculine people.


Assigned Male at Birth/AMAB:

Someone who was initially described/labelled as male when they were born. This is mainly used for trans women and trans-feminine people.



This is the term used for an unfounded fear of or mistreatment of bisexual identities. Harmful beliefs like ‘bisexuals are greedy’ or that they are “actually gay and just in denial” are examples of biphobia.



When bisexuality is dismissed or ignored as a sexuality. For example, if a character on a TV show is depicted as being in a same-sex relationship people will often automatically decide they are gay when they could be bisexual.


Bisexual or Bi:

A term that describes attraction to people of two or more genders. It is sometimes understood as an attraction to one’s own gender, and to other genders. Some people believe that bisexual people are only attracted to men and women. However, there are non-binary people who identify as bisexual and people who are attracted to a range of gender identities who identify as bi.



A term used to describe someone whose gender aligns with the sex assigned at birth (e.g., they were born female and identify as being a girl/woman). It is the opposite of trans. The prefix ‘cis’ is Latin for “on the same side as”, while trans means, “on the other side of”.


Coming Out:

This is an ongoing process of making your own sexual or gender identity known to the world.



A term for when a trans person is called by a name they no longer use or identify with, since beginning the process of transition. It is not a pleasant experience for someone to have because it includes a gender-associated name that they no longer feel identified with.




This term has been used in the Lesbian community for a long time and is becoming more commonly used in the wider LGBTQIA+ community. It is used to describe an expression of gender that reclaims traditional ideas of femininity.



Refers to people whose sexual and romantic feelings are mainly for the same sex or gender. Both men and women identify as gay, however this term more specifically refers to men who are attracted to men.


Gender Binary:

The belief in society that everyone is either male or female, and nothing else. On top of that, the gender binary tells us that males should behave in masculine ways and females in feminine ways.  The reality is that many people do not feel completely male or female, or either male or female. People express their gender identities in a whole variety of ways, that have nothing to do with gender stereotypes.  Remember, binaries are for computers, and not people.


Gender Dysphoria:

This term describes the strong discomfort or sadness someone might feel because their gender identity doesn’t match the body that they were born with. Many trans people experience gender dysphoria, but not all do.

Gender dysphoria is not the same as body dysmorphia, which is when someone has a distorted view of how they look. People with gender dysphoria do not have a distorted view of themselves, they feel bad because their gender identity doesn’t match how they appear.  It is possible to experience both gender dysphoria and body dysmorphia, though.


Gender Euphoria:

This is a feeling of comfort or joy when someone’s gender identity is affirmed. This can happen through people using the correct pronouns or gender terms for a person or through the person achieving physical or social alignment with their gender identity. For example, someone who is exploring their masculine gender expression could feel gender euphoria from cutting their hair short.



This gender identity refers to people who are flexible in their gender identity, and don’t have a single definition. They may shift between masculine and feminine, androgyne, and potentially a third gender.



This gender identity means that the person doesn’t align with gender norms. They don’t follow the typical gender distinctions of male/female. Instead, they identify with neither, both, or parts of male and female genders.



This happens when unfounded fear, aversion or discrimination occurs, based on someone being same sex attracted. Homophobia is based on the misbelief that heterosexuality is the norm, and that homosexuality is ‘wrong’ or that being same sex attracted means that person will hit on them, or be unsafe with children, etc.



People with intersex variations have sex characteristics that do not fit medical and social norms for female or male bodies. These are natural variations in chromosomes, hormones, genitalia, or other sex-based characteristics (hair, breasts, muscles, fat distribution, etc).  People with intersex variations have the same range of sexual orientations and gender identities as everyone else.



Refers to women whose sexual and romantic feelings are mainly for other women.



This occurs when someone is spoken about or referred to by the wrong gender. For example, if someone is wearing a pronoun badge that says ‘SHE/HER’, it would be misgendering to describe her with the pronouns of ‘HE/HIM’. If someone were assigned female at birth, but uses he/him pronouns, it would be misgendering to refer to him as ‘her’.



This term typically refers to a gender identity that is not simply male or female. To some non-binary people their experience of gender is both male and female, and to others their gender is neither male nor female. Non-binary is also an umbrella term that includes many gender identities that don’t neatly fit the male/female binary.



‘Pan’ means ‘all’. Refers to people whose sexual and romantic feelings are for all genders, or regardless of gender (i.e., gender blind). People of any gender identity can and do identify as pansexual.



Pronouns are the little words like ‘he’, ‘she’ and ‘they’ that we use in conversation to identify or speak about people without using their name. These words often imply a gender and when people don’t know you, they may assume what gender you are based on your physical characteristics.



An umbrella term that some people in the LGBTQIA+ community prefer to use because it avoids identity labels. Many people also use it to indicate that they are not straight or cis. However, some people in the LGBTQIA+ community prefer not to use this term as it used to be used as a slur. These days, the term has been embraced and is more about pride and inclusivity. NB: Only refer to someone as ‘queer’ if they have used that term themselves, otherwise it could be taken as an insult.



This is when someone is still discovering and learning about their sexual or gender identity. Some people can be in a state of questioning for years, and others for a very short time. It’s important that questioning people are welcomed into the LGBTQIA+ community and that we do not expect or pressure them to ‘decide’.



Our sexuality is who we are attracted to in a sexual way… and who we want to be intimate with.



An umbrella term used to describe a broad range of experiences where a person’s gender does not match the sex assigned at birth. More specifically, it can refer to someone whose gender identity is opposite to the sex assigned at birth (e.g., someone who was assigned male at birth but feels like a girl/woman).

 People can identify as transgender and not have begun the process of transition, since being transgender is a personal experience/identity and is not dependent on physical changes.



The process where someone changes from one gender to another.  Transitioning can include medical, legal or social aspects of a person’s life. What it means to transition varies from person to person and there is no ‘correct’ or ‘true’ way to transition. People can transition from male to female, female to male, or male/female to non-binary or gender queer. NB: People don’t need to transition to identify as trans or non-binary.



This term describes misunderstanding, fear, ignorance, or prejudice towards people who are transgender (or are perceived to be). It can be expressed through hostility, verbal or physical bullying, and discrimination. It can take the form of denying someone’s gender identity (e.g., “you’re not a real boy/girl”), deliberately misgendering someone or asking personal and invasive questions about their body.



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