​LGBTQ+ Glossary of Terms

Asexual (Ace): A sexual orientation characterized by a lack of sexual attraction to others or a low or absent interest in sexual activity.

AFAB: Assigned Female at Birth. The terms AFAB and AMAB are used by a wide range of individuals, including those who are transgender, non-binary, or intersex. 

Agender: An identity under the non-binary and trans+ umbrella. Some agender people feel that they have no gender identity, while others feel that agender is itself a gender identity. This can be similar to or overlap with the experience of being gender neutral, or having a neutral gender identity. 

Ally: A person who supports and advocates for the LGBTQIA+ community, even if they do not identify as LGBTQIA+ themselves.

AMAB: Assigned Male at Birth. The terms AFAB and AMAB are used by a wide range of individuals, including those who are transgender, non-binary, or intersex. 

Androgyne: A person with a gender that is both masculine and feminine or in between masculine and feminine. An androgynous person.

Aromantic/Aro: A romantic orientation generally characterized by not feeling romantic attraction or a desire for romance. Aromantic people can be satisfied by friendship and other non-romantic relationships. 

Asexuality: Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction to others, or low or absent interest in or desire for sexual activity. It may be considered a sexual orientation or the lack thereof. It may also be categorized more widely, to include a broad spectrum of asexual sub-identities. Asexuality.

Autism: A neurological variation encompassing a wide range of presentations and experiences. Common characteristics of autism include repetitive behavior and differences in social interaction, interpersonal relationships, and communication. For some people, their gender identity is significantly tied to their identity as an autistic person.

BDSM: Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadism and Masochism. BDSM is a term used to describe sex that involves dominance, submission, and control. The practice typically involves one partner taking on a more dominant role during sex, while the other is more submissive. 

Bigender: Having two genders, exhibiting characteristics of masculine and feminine roles.

Bisexual: A sexual orientation characterized by attraction to people of both one’s own gender and other genders.

Butch: A gender expression that fits societal definitions of masculinity. Usually used by queer women and trans people, particularly by lesbians. 

Cisgender (Cis): A person whose gender identity aligns with the sex assigned to them at birth.

Coming Out: The process of disclosing one’s LGBTQIA+ identity to others, which can be a gradual and ongoing process.

Conversion Therapy: Harmful and discredited practices aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, often associated with psychological and emotional harm.

Deadname / Deadnaming: A deadname is a name that a trans+/nonbinary person no longer uses. Usually it is the name assigned at birth. When someone uses this name, whether intentionally or not, it is referred to as deadnaming. Deadnaming is considered offensive and hurtful.

FTM: Female to Male. Generally used to refer to anyone assigned female at birth whose affirmed gender identity or expression is masculine all or part of the time. 

Gay: A sexual and affectional orientation toward people of the same gender. 

Gender Affirming: A broad term encompassing actions, language, medical care, and more, that affirms someone’s gender identity or expression. For example, surgery that alters someone’s appearance to align with their gender identity is referred to as gender-affirming surgery. 

Gender Dysphoria: Distress or discomfort that may occur when a person’s gender identity does not align with the sex assigned to them at birth.

Gender Expression: How one expresses oneself, in terms of dress, presentation of secondary sex characteristics, and/or behaviors. 

Genderfluid: 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: A person’s internal sense of their own gender, which may or may not align with the sex assigned to them at birth.

Gender Neutral: Refers to anything that is not gendered. For example, gender-neutral language does not use binary male or female words, and gender-neutral restrooms are available to be used by anyone of any gender identity or expression. 

Gender Nonconforming (GNC): Individuals whose gender expression or identity doesn’t conform to traditional societal expectations for their assigned gender.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Medical treatment involving the administration of hormones to bring about physical changes in order to align one’s appearance with their gender identity.

Intersex: People born with physical or biological traits that don’t fit typical definitions of male or female, such as variations in genitalia, chromosomes, or hormones.

Kink: Most commonly referred to as unconventional sexual practices, from which people derive varying forms of pleasure and consensually play out various forms of desires, fantasies, and scenes. Kink includes BDSM, leather, wax play, etc.

Lesbian: A woman who is attracted romantically, emotionally, and/or sexually to other women.

LGBTQIA+: Abbreviation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual. The additional “+” stands for all of the other identities not encompassed in the short acronym. 

MTF: Male to Female. Generally used to refer to anyone assigned male at birth whose affirmed gender identity or expression is feminine all or part of the time. 

Multisexual: An umbrella term to describe attraction to more than one gender. It can include sexual attractions like bisexual, polysexual, omnisexual, and others. The aforementioned terms are used by some interchangeably and for others the subtle differences among them are important.

Neurodiversity: Neurodiversity explains the unique ways people’s brains work. While everyone’s brain develops similarly, no two brains function just alike. Being neurodivergent means having a brain that works differently from the “average” or “neurotypical” person. These differences can include autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyspraxia, dyslexia, dyscalculia, Tourette Syndrome, and others. 

Nonbinary: A gender identity that falls outside the traditional binary of male and female, encompassing a range of gender expressions and identities.

Pangender: A person whose gender identity encompasses all genders, or who identifies as having a limitless gender.

Polyamory/Poly: Denotes consensually being in/open to multiple loving relationships at the same time. Some polyamorists consider “polyam” to be a relationship orientation. Sometimes used as an umbrella term for all forms of ethical, consensual, and loving non-monogamy.

Queer: An adjective used by some people whose sexual orientation is not exclusively heterosexual (e.g. queer person, queer woman). Typically, for those who identify as queer, the terms lesbian, gay, and bisexual are perceived to be too limiting and/or fraught with cultural connotations they feel do not apply to them. Once considered a pejorative term, queer has been reclaimed by some LGBTQ people to describe themselves. 

Questioning: The process of exploring one’s own gender identity, gender expression, and/or sexual orientation.

Transgender: An adjective used most often as an umbrella term and frequently abbreviated to “trans.” Identifying as transgender, or trans, means that one’s internal knowledge of gender is different from conventional or cultural expectations based on the sex that person was assigned at birth. 

Transition: Transitioning is the process of taking steps to live as one’s true gender identity. Transitioning is different for each individual and may or may not involve medical interventions like taking hormones or having surgery. Transitioning may include socially transitioning, such as going by certain pronouns or going by the Lived Name that affirms one’s gender identity.