LGBTQ+ Definitions

From: (unless otherwise stated)

asexual – adj.: experiencing little or no sexual attraction to others and/or a lack of interest in sexual relationships/behaviour. Asexuality exists on a continuum from people who experience no sexual attraction or have any desire for sex, to those who experience low levels of sexual attraction only under specific conditions, and many of these different places on the continuum have their own identity labels (see demisexual). Sometimes abbreviated to “ace.”

Asexuality is different from celibacy in that it is a sexual orientation whereas celibacy is abstaining from a certain action.

bisexual – adj.:

1. A person who is emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to males/men and females/women.

2. A person who is emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to people of their gender and another gender. This attraction does not have to be equally split or indicate a level of interest that is the same across the genders or sexes an individual may be attracted to.

cisgender /“siss-jendur”/ – adj.: a person whose gender identity and biological sex assigned at birth align (e.g., man and assigned male at birth). A simple way to think about it is if a person is not transgender, they are cisgender. The word cisgender can also be shortened to “cis.”

gay – adj.:

1. Individuals who are primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to members of the same sex and/or gender. More commonly used when referring to men who are attracted to other men, but can be applied to women as well.

2. An umbrella term used to refer to the queer community as a whole, or as an individual identity label for anyone who does not identify as heterosexual.

gender expression – noun: the external display of one’s gender, through a combination of dress, demeanour, social behaviour, and other factors, generally made sense of on scales of masculinity and femininity. Also referred to as “gender presentation.”

gender identity – noun: the internal perception of one’s gender, and how they label themselves, based on how much they align or don’t align with what they understand their options for gender to be. Common identity labels include man, woman, genderqueer, trans, and more. Often confused with biological sex, or sex assigned at birth.

homosexual – adj. & noun: a person primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to members of the same sex/gender. This [medical] term is considered stigmatizing (particularly as a noun) due to its history as a category of mental illness and is discouraged for common use (use gay or lesbian instead).

intersex – adj.: term for a combination of chromosomes, gonads, hormones, internal sex organs, and genitals that differs from the two expected patterns of male or female. Formerly known as hermaphrodite (or hermaphroditic), but these terms are now outdated and derogatory.

lesbian – noun & adj.: women who have the capacity to be attracted romantically, erotically, and/or emotionally to some other women.

LGBTQ; GSM; DSG – abbreviations: shorthand or umbrella terms for all folks who have a non-normative (or queer) gender or sexuality, there are many different initialisms people prefer. LGBTQ is Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer and/or Questioning (sometimes people at a + at the end in an effort to be more inclusive); GSM is Gender and Sexual Minorities; DSG is Diverse Sexualities and Genders. Other options include the initialism GLBT or LGBT and the acronym QUILTBAG (Queer [or Questioning] Undecided Intersex Lesbian Trans* Bisexual Asexual [or Allied] and Gay [or Genderqueer]).

Nonbinary (Also Non-Binary): A 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. (From:

pansexual – adj.: a person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions. Often shortened to “pan.”

queer – adj.: used as an umbrella term to describe individuals who don’t identify as straight. Also used to describe people who have a non-normative gender identity, or as a political affiliation. Due to its historical use as a derogatory term, it is not embraced or used by all members of the LGBTQ community. The term “queer” can often be used interchangeably with LGBTQ (e.g., “queer folks” instead of “LGBTQ folks”).

If a person tells you they are not comfortable with you referring to them as queer, don’t. Always respect individual’s preferences when it comes to identity labels, particularly contentious ones (or ones with troubled histories) like this.

questioning – verb, adj.: an individual who or time when someone is unsure about or exploring their own sexual orientation or gender identity.

QPOC / QTPOC – abbreviation: initialisms that stand for queer people of colour and queer and/or trans people of colour.

sexual attraction – noun: a capacity that evokes the want to engage in physical intimate behaviour (e.g., kissing, touching, intercourse), experienced in varying degrees (from little-to-none to intense). Often conflated with romantic attraction, emotional attraction, and/or spiritual attraction.

sexual orientation – noun: the type of sexual, romantic, emotional/spiritual attraction one has the capacity to feel for some others, generally labelled based on the gender relationship between the person and the people they are attracted to. Often confused with sexual preference.

straight – adj.: a person primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to people who are not of their same sex/gender. A more colloquial term for the word heterosexual.

trans* – adj.: An umbrella term covering a range of identities that transgress socially defined gender norms. Trans with an asterisk is often used in written forms (not spoken) to indicate that you are referring to the larger group nature of the term, and specifically including non-binary identities, as well as transgender men (transmen) and transgender women (trans women).

transgender – adj.: A person who lives as a member of a gender other than that assigned at birth based on anatomical sex.

transman; transwoman – noun:

1. An identity label sometimes adopted by female-to-male transgender people or transsexuals to signify that they are men while still affirming their history as assigned female sex at birth. (sometimes referred to as transguy)

2. Identity labels sometimes adopted by male-to-female transgender people to signify that they are women while still affirming their history as assigned male sex at birth.

two-spirit – noun: is an umbrella term traditionally used by Indigenous people to recognize individuals who possess qualities or fulfill roles of both genders.