LGBT Glossary

There's a whole alphabet of LGBT identities and terms. Here are some which may help when you

Ace 

Ace is an umbrella term used to describe a variation in levels of romantic and/or sexual attraction, including a lack of attraction. Ace people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including, but not limited to, asexual, aromantic, demis and grey-As. 

AFAB/AMAB 
These acronyms stand for “Assigned Female At Birth” and “Assigned Male At Birth”. 
The terms are used by a wide range of individuals, including those who are transgender, non-binary, or intersex. While AFAB or AMAB may be useful for describing different trans or non-binary experiences, they are generally not considered identities in and of themselves. Calling a trans man “AFAB,” for example, erases his identity as man. Instead, use a person’s requested pronouns and self-description. 

Affirmed gender  
The gender to which someone has transitioned. This term is often used to replace terms like “new gender” or “chosen gender,” which imply that the current gender was not always a person’s gender or that their gender was chosen rather than simply in existence. 

 

Ally 
A person who fights for, and supports others in their fight for equality, despite not being a member of the marginalised group, e.g. a heterosexual and/or cisgender person who believes in, and fights for equality, for LGBT+ people. 

 

Androgynous  
A non-binary gender identity, having both male and female characteristics. Can be used to describe people’s appearances or clothing. 

 

Asexual 
A person of any gender or sexual orientation who experiences little, or no, sexual attraction. Asexual people may still experience other types of attraction, such as physical or romantic attraction. 

 

Assigned sex  
The sex (male, female intersex) that is assigned to an infant at birth. This assignment is usually based on observation of external genitals. A person may be assigned “female”, “intersex” or “male”. However, this does not necessarily reflect how a person will identify themselves. 

Bisexual / Bi 
A person of any gender who experiences attraction to people of their own gender, and other genders. People who are bisexual need not have had equal sexual experience with both men and women and need not have had any sexual experience at all; it is attraction that determines orientation. 

 

Biphobia 
Discrimination against and /or fear or dislike of bisexual people (including those perceived to be bisexual) or of bisexuality. This also includes the perpetuation of negative myths and stereotypes through jokes and/or through personal negative thoughts about bisexual people. 

 

Butch 

Butch is a term used in lesbian, bisexual and trans culture to describe someone who expresses themselves in a typically masculine way.  
There are other identities within the scope of butch, such as ‘soft butch’ and ‘stone butch’. You shouldn’t use these terms about someone unless you know they identify with them. 

 

Cisgender / Cis 

A person whose gender is the same or mostly the same as they were assigned at birth. This is a term that is preferable to “non-trans,” “biological,” or “natal” man or woman. 

Cisnormativity  

An emphasis on people being “the norm” if their gender identity and assigned gender at birth match, and therefore having a valued position in society. This often highlights and reinforces expected and more traditional ways of presenting your gender too e.g. the expectation for women to present as “feminine” and men to present as “masculine”. 

Closeted  
Describes a person who is not open about their sexual orientation.  

Coming out  
For people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, the process of self-acceptance that continues throughout one’s life. People often establish a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender identity to themselves first and then may decide to reveal it to others. There are many different degrees of being out: some may be out to friends only, some may be out publicly, and some may be out only to themselves. It’s important to remember that not everyone is in the same place when it comes to being out, and to respect where each person is in that process of self-identification. It is up to each person, individually, to decide if and when to come out or disclose.  

Deadnaming  
Calling someone by their birth name after they have changed their name. This term is often associated with trans people who have changed their name as part of their transition. 

Disclosure  
The act or process of revealing one’s transgender or gender nonconforming identity to another person in a specific instance. Related to, but not the same as, coming out. 

Femme
Femme is a term used in LGBT culture to describe someone who expresses themselves in a typically feminine way.  
There are other identities within the scope of femme, such as ‘low femme’, ‘high femme’, and ‘hard femme’. You shouldn’t use these terms about someone unless you know they identify with them. 

Gay

A man who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards men. Also a generic term for lesbian and gay sexuality - some women define themselves as gay rather than lesbian. Some non-binary people may also identify with this term. 

Gender
A set of social, psychological, or emotional traits, often influenced by societal and cultural expectations that classify an individual as either feminine or masculine. Gender is often assumed from the sex assigned to a child at birth. 

Gender-affirming surgery  
Surgical procedures that help people adjust their bodies in a way that more closely matches or desired gender identity. Not every transgender person will desire or have resources for surgery. This should be used in place of the older and often offensive term “sex change”.  
 
Gender binary  
The concept that there are only two genders, male and female, and that everyone must be one or the other. This concept is currently becoming more widely questioned and disputed on individual and societal levels to recognise those with gender identities that exist outside of this binary. 

Gender dysphoria 
Used to describe when a person experiences discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between their sex assigned at birth and their gender identity. This is also the clinical diagnosis for someone who doesn’t feel comfortable with the sex they were assigned at birth. 

Gender expression 

Refers to how a person externally presents their gender. This may be through choice of clothing, general physical appearance or social behaviour. Gender expression is most commonly/ traditionally measured on a scale of “masculinity” and “femininity”, although not always. A person who does not conform to societal expectations of gender may not, however, identify as trans. 

Gender fluid 

A person who feels that their gender is not static and that it changes throughout their life, this could be on a daily / weekly / monthly basis. 

Gender identity 

How a person feels about and knows themselves to be. This might be as a woman, a man, as both, as neither, or in another way. 

Gender-neutral 

Not gendered. Can refer to language (including pronouns), spaces (like bathrooms), or identities (being agender, for example). 
 

Gender reassignment (see also “Transition”) 

Another way of describing a person’s transition. To undergo gender reassignment usually means to undergo some sort of medical intervention, but it can also mean changing names, pronouns, dressing differently and living in their self-identified gender. 
Gender reassignment is a characteristic that is protected by the Equality Act 2010, and it is further interpreted in the Equality Act 2010 approved code of practice. 

 

Gender roles and expectations 

People are assigned a sex at birth and this often predetermines a gender role that a person is expected to fulfil e.g. someone assigned female at birth, will be expected to live, identify and outwardly present as a woman. There is also expectation to ‘act’ like a woman and carry out jobs that society deems appropriate for women. Gender roles and expectations are often reinforced by society, people around us and the media. People of all genders can find these expectations limiting and oppressive. 

Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) 
This enables trans people to be legally recognised in their affirmed gender and to be issued with a new birth certificate. Not all trans people will apply for a GRC and you currently have to be over 18 to apply for one in the UK. 
You do not need a GRC to change your gender markers at work or to legally change your gender on other documents such as your passport. 

Heteronormativity 

The assumption that everyone is heterosexual or straight, and that heterosexuality is superior, with an emphasis on heterosexuality being “the norm” and therefore having a valued position in society. The media often reinforces heteronormativity through images used and portrayal of character’s identities and attitudes. 

Heterosexual / Straight 

A person who is attracted to people of a different gender e.g. a man who is only attracted to women. Many people avoid 'heterosexual' in everyday language as it can sound clinical and foregrounds the sexual aspect. 

Homosexual / Gay

Romantic and sexual attraction to the same sex. For the same reasons as 'heterosexual', 'homosexual' may be avoided in everyday language, as it’s often considered derogatory and offensive. “Gay” and “lesbian” are usually preferred. 

Homophobia 

Discrimination against and/or fear or dislike of lesbian and gay people (including those perceived to be gay or lesbian). This also includes the perpetuation of negative myths and stereotypes through jokes and/or through personal negative thoughts about lesbian and gay people. 

Intersex 

A person is assigned intersex, often at birth, when their sex characteristics don’t align with the medical definitions of “female” or “male”. A person’s external and internal body, as well as chromosomes and hormones, can all be factors when assigning sex.  
Intersex people may identify as male, female or non-binary. 

Lesbian 

A woman who is romantically and sexually attracted to women. Some women prefer to use the word 'gay', as 'lesbian' has been used in heterosexual pornography. 

LGBT+ 

An umbrella expression and an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (plus other related identities). Occasionally, the acronym is stated as “LGBTA” to include allies, and “LGBTQ,” with “Q” representing queer or questioning. 

Non-binary 

An umbrella term for gender identities which are not confined by the gender binary of “women” and “men”. Non-binary people may identify with no gender at all or with more than one gender. There are many different nonbinary genders, including but not limited to genderqueer, genderfluid, agender and bigender. 

Orientation 
Orientation is an umbrella term describing a person's attraction to other people. This attraction may be sexual (sexual orientation) and/or romantic (romantic orientation). These terms refers to a person's sense of identity based on their attractions, or lack thereof. Orientations include, but are not limited to, lesbian, gay, bi, ace and straight. 

Out 

LGBT+ people living openly and telling people about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. 

Outed 
When a lesbian, gay, bi or trans person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is disclosed to someone else without their consent. 

Pansexual

A person of any gender who is attracted to people of all genders. 

Passing
If someone is regarded, at a glance, to be a cisgender man or cisgender woman. 

Pronouns

Words used to refer to someone when their name isn’t used. They usually suggest a person’s gender, although some people prefer, or identify with, neutral pronouns. Common pronouns include her, she, him, he, they, them. 

Queer

Historically this word was used as a negative insult; however many people feel they have reclaimed the word to have a positive meaning – celebrating the rejection of specific labels of romantic orientation, sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It can also be a way of rejecting the perceived norms of the LGBT community (racism, sizeism, ableism etc).  Some people use this word as a collective term for LGBT+ people, and some use it to explain their gender, sexual or political identity.  It is important to also note that there are still people who use this word as an insult - this is LGBTphobia and should be challenged. 

Questioning

A person who is uncertain about and/or exploring their own sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This term can also refer to the process of this exploration. 

Romantic attraction
A person’s romantic attraction to other people, or lack thereof. Along with sexual orientation, this forms a person’s orientation. 

Sex
Refers to biological, genetic, or physical characteristics that define males and females. These can include genitalia, hormone levels, genes, or secondary sex characteristics. Sex is often compared or interchanged with gender, which is thought of as more social and less biological, though there is some considerable overlap. 

Sexual Orientation

The part of a person’s identity that describes who they experience attraction to, often but not always based on gender, e.g. lesbian, gay, bisexual, straight, pansexual. For some people this is relatively fixed, but for others it can change throughout their adult lives. One’s sexual activity does not define who one is with regards to one’s sexual orientation; it is the attraction that determines their orientation. 

Stealth
A term used to describe transgender individuals who do not disclose their trans status in their public lives. 

Trans

An umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth. 
Trans people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including (but not limited to) transgender, transsexual, genderqueer (GQ), gender-fluid, non-binary, gender-variant, crossdresser, genderless, agender, nongender, third gender, bi-gender, trans man, trans woman, transmasculine, transfeminine and neutrois. 

 
Transfeminine and Transmasculine 
Transfeminine and transmasculine may be used to describe individuals who, respectively, were assigned male or female at birth, but align more closely with femininity or masculinity, while not necessarily fully identifying as a woman or a man. These terms can be used as gender identities in their own right, and are similar to “demigirl” and “demiboy”. These terms effectively signify which direction someone is pointing to on the gender spectrum.  

Transition

A term that refers to steps a person might take to affirm their gender and live in the gender with which they identify. These changes might be medical and/or social - e.g. a person might change their name, pronoun or clothing. They might change their gender or sex markers on official records. A person might start to take prescribed hormones or make surgical changes to their bodies. Everyone’s transition will be different, and not all trans people choose to transition. Transitioning is referred to as ‘gender reassignment’ in law. 

Transphobia

Discrimination against and/or fear or dislike of people whose gender identity does not align with the gender they are assigned at birth, or whose gender identity or expression doesn’t appear to align. This includes the perpetuation of negative myths and stereotypes through jokes and/or through personal negative thoughts about trans people. It can also refer to institutional oppression and discrimination against trans people. 

Transsexual
This was used in the past as a more medical term (similarly to homosexual) to refer to someone whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth. This term is still used by some, although many people prefer the term trans or transgender. 

 

Sources

https://www.theproudtrust.org/resources/resource-downloads/glossary/ 

http://documents.manchester.ac.uk/display.aspx?DocID=19324 

http://documents.manchester.ac.uk/display.aspx?DocID=12047 

https://bolt.straightforequality.org/files/Come%20Out%20as%20a%20Straight%20Ally/equality-literacy-101-s4e-.pdf 

https://www.stonewall.org.uk/help-advice/glossary-terms 

https://www.glbtrt.ala.org/news/archives/2845