*List is taken from Safe Zone Project
ally /“al-lie”/ – noun : a (typically straight and/or cisgender) person who supports and respects
members of the LGBTQ community. We consider people to be active allies who take action on in
support and respect.
asexual – adj. : experiencing little or no sexual attraction to others and/or a lack of interest in sexual
relationships/behavior. Asexuality exists on a continuum from people who experience no sexual
attraction or have any desire for sex, to those who experience low levels, or sexual attraction only
under specific conditions. Many of these different places on the continuum have their own identity
labels (see demisexual). Sometimes abbreviated to “ace.”
biological sex – noun : a medical term used to refer to the chromosomal, hormonal and anatomical
characteristics that are used to classify an individual as female or male or intersex. Often referred to
as simply “sex,” “physical sex,” “anatomical sex,” or specifically as “sex assigned at birth.”
biphobia – noun : a range of negative attitudes (e.g., fear, anger, intolerance, invisibility, resentment,
erasure, or discomfort) that one may have or express toward bisexual individuals. Biphobia can come
from and be seen within the LGBTQ community as well as straight society. biphobic – adj. : a word
used to describe actions, behaviors, or individuals who demonstrate elements of this range of
negative attitudes toward bisexual people.
bisexual – 1 noun & adj. : a person who experiences attraction to some men and women. 2 adj. : a
person who experiences attraction to some people of their gender and another gender. Bisexual
attraction does not have to be equally split, or indicate a level of interest that is the same across the
genders an individual may be attracted to. Often used interchangeably with “pansexual”.
cisgender /“siss-jendur”/ – adj. : a gender description for when someone’s sex assigned at birth and
gender identity correspond in the expected way (e.g., someone who was assigned male at birth, and
identifies as a man). 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.”
coming out – 1 noun : the process by which one accepts and/or comes to identify one’s own sexuality
or gender identity (to “come out” to oneself). 2 verb : the process by which one shares one’s sexuality
or gender identity with others.
gay – 1 adj. : experiencing attraction solely (or primarily) to some members of the same gender. Can
be used to refer to men who are attracted to other men and women who are attracted to women. 2
adj. : an umbrella term used to refer to the queer community as a whole, or as an individual identity
label for anyone who is not straight.
gender expression – noun : the external display of one’s gender, through a combination of clothing,
grooming, demeanor, social behavior, 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 an 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. Often conflated with biological sex, or sex assigned at birth.
genderqueer – 1 adj. : a gender identity label often used by people who do not identify with the
binary of man/woman. 2 adj. : an umbrella term for many gender non-conforming or non-binary
identities (e.g., agender, bigender, genderfluid).
heteronormativity – noun : the assumption, in individuals and/or in institutions, that everyone is
heterosexual and that heterosexuality is superior to all other sexualities. Leads to invisibility and
stigmatizing of other sexualities: when learning a woman is married, asking her what her husband’s
name is. Heteronormativity also leads us to assume that only masculine men and feminine women
homophobia – noun : an umbrella term for a range of negative attitudes (e.g., fear, anger,
intolerance, resentment, erasure, or discomfort) that one may have toward LGBTQ people. The term
can also connote a fear, disgust, or dislike of being perceived as LGBTQ.
homophobic – adj. : a word used to describe actions, behaviors, or individuals who demonstrate
elements of this range of negative attitudes toward LGBTQ people.
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 are primarily attracted romantically, erotically, and/or
emotionally to other women.
LGBTQ; GSM; DSG – abbr. : 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
pansexual – adj. : a person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction for
members of all gender identities/expressions. Often shortened to “pan.”
passing – 1 adj. & verb : trans* people being accepted as, or able to “pass for,” a member of their
self-identified gender identity (regardless of sex assigned at birth) without being identified as trans*. 2
adj. : an LGB/queer individual who is believed to be or perceived as straight.
queer – 1 adj. : an umbrella term to describe individuals who don’t identify as straight and/or
cisgender. 2 noun : a slur used to refer to someone who isn’t straight and/or cisgender. Due to its
historical use as a derogatory term, and how it is still used as a slur many communities, it is not
embraced or used by all LGBTQ people. The term “queer” can often be use interchangeably with
LGBTQ (e.g., “queer people” instead of “LGBTQ people”).
questioning – verb, adj. : an individual who or time when someone is unsure about or exploring their
own sexual orientation or gender identity.
romantic attraction – noun : a capacity that evokes the want to engage in romantically intimate
behavior (e.g., dating, relationships, marriage), experienced in varying degrees (from little-to-none, to
intense). Often conflated with sexual attraction, emotional attraction, and/or spiritual attraction.
sexual attraction – noun : a capacity that evokes the want to engage in sexually intimate behavior
(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 labeled 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 some people
who are not their same sex/gender. A more colloquial term for the word heterosexual.
transgender – 1 adj. : a gender description for someone who has transitioned (or is transitioning)
from living as one gender to another. 2 adj. : an umbrella term for anyone whose sex assigned at birth
and gender identity do not correspond in the expected way (e.g., someone who was assigned male at
birth, but does not identify as a man).
transphobia – noun : the fear of, discrimination against, or hatred of trans* people, the trans*
community, or gender ambiguity. Transphobia can be seen within the queer community, as well as in
general society. Transphobic – adj. : a word used to describe an individual who harbors some
elements of this range of negative attitudes, thoughts, intents, towards trans* people.