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LGBTQ 101 > Terms / LGBTQ101

LGBTQ Terms to Know

LGBT & LGBTQ TermsPlease note that terms are fluid and they are morphing all of the time.

What is LGBT?

When we refer to the LGBT community we leave off the Q. The Q can refer to questioning and we include it when we are talking about youth. The Q can also refer to Queer and is an acceptable term in some communities.

What are some other terms I should know?

Sexual Orientation Terms

Sexual Orientation- a term frequently used to describe a person's innate romantic, emotional, or sexual attraction to another person.  Use the term sexual orientation instead of "sexual preference," "lifestyle," or other misleading terms.

Lesbian-  a female who is romantically/sexually attracted to other females.

Gay man- a man who is romantically/sexually attracted to other men.

Bisexual- a person who is romantically/sexually attracted to both sexes.

Pansexual- an person who is romantically/sexually interested in other people regardless of gender, but do not wish to identify as bisexual because it implies that there are only two binary genders or sexes.

Queer -includes individuals who transcend labels of sexual orientation or gender identity.  Can also be an umbrella term that refers to the entire LGBTQ community. 

MSM- Men who have sex with Men (may not identify as gay)

WSW-  Women who have sex with Women (may not identify as a lesbian)

Gender Identity Terms

Birth Gender - the gender assigned at birth based on appearance of genitalia and chromosomes

Gender Identity - a persons deeply felt sense of being male, female, something other, or, in between.  Everyone has a gender identity.

Gender Expression-  an individuals characteristics and behaviors, such as appearance, dress, mannerisms, speech patterns and social interaction.

Transgender- An umbrella term used to describe all kinds of people who sit outside the gender binary or who's gender identity is different from the sex assigned to them at birth.  (Note that the term is not's intentionally in the present tense, not the past tense.  It's a state of being.)

Transsexual- an individual who considers them self a member of the opposite sex and who, by surgery or therapy, acquire the physical characteristics of the opposite sex. 

Transvestite- derogatory term for an individual who dresses in clothing most often associated with the opposite sex for fetish or arousal purposes (this is not synonymous with drag queens).

Transphobia- dislike, hatred, or fear of gender variance or persons who identify as gender variant (can be internal and external)

 Drag - Refers to theatrical performances of gender, Includes drag kings and drag queens.

Cross Dresser- A person who has an emotional need to express their alternative gender identity and be accepted in that role on a less permanent basis.

Transition or Transitioning- Consists of a change in style of dress, selection of new name, and a request that people use the correct pronoun.  This may or may not include necessary medical care like hormone therapy, counseling, and/or surgery.

F to M /  FTM / "Trans Man"- a Biological female who is or has transitioned to male.

M to F / MTF / "Trans Woman"- a Biological male who is or has transitioned to female.

SRS- Sexual Reassignment Surgery. Top = chest area.  Bottom = genital area.

Intersex- a person who has ambiguous genitalia or born with both male and female genitalia  or DNA (although historically used, the term hermaphrodite is no longer considered an appropriate term and is derogatory).

Cisgender- someone who is comfortable in the gender they were assigned at birth (this term is more appropriate than "normal" or "typical").

Genderqueer- Refers to people who do not identify or express themselves as completely male or female.  Genderqueer people may or may not identify as transgender.

How to address someone who you think might be transgender...

You should address a person who is transgender like you would treat anyone else: with respect, dignity, and kindness. But here are a few things to remember:

  • It is derogatory to use the terms "He-She," "She-Male," or "It"
  • It is derogatory to use the term "transgendered" (past tense); this is who they are, not what "happened" to them

Unless you are a medical professional or in an extremely close relationship with the individual, it is rude to ask:

  • what reassignment surgeries they've had or plan to have
  • what genitalia they have currently
  • about their former first name

If you are unsure of a person's gender, nicely and sincerely ask them how they identify or what pronoun they'd prefer