When it comes to gender and sexuality, there are lots of terms used to describe different identities, and it can all get a bit confusing. So, whether you’re looking for a term to describe yourself, or you just want to get a better understanding of words you might have heard, we’ve broken down what they mean below. It’s in no way an exhaustive list, but hopefully it will help you get a better understanding of some of the most used vocab.
Illustrations by Anshika Khullar @aorists
Agender - This refers to someone who identifies without gender and has no personal alignment with the concepts of male or female.
Ally - A typically cis and/or straight person who supports and advocates for LGBTQ+ community.
Androgyny - The quality that incorporates both masculinity and femininity.
Asexual - This is someone who experiences no sexual attraction to others. Sometimes abbreviated to ‘ace.’
Bicurious - A typically heterosexual person who is curious about having sexual experiences with, or feels an attraction to, a person of the same sex/gender.
Bisexual - Someone who is sexually attracted to both males and females.
Cisgender - Relates to a person whose personal identity and gender corresponds with the gender assigned to them at birth. This is usually shortened to ‘cis.’
Gay - A term used to describe someone who is sexually attracted to members of the same sex. The term can be used to describe men or women, but is often associated with males.
Gender binary - Is the belief that gender is classified into two distinct forms of masculine and feminine, whether by social systems or cultural beliefs.
Gender dysphoria - A term used to describe the experience of distress and discomfort when someone’s gender at birth is mismatched with their own identity. It is also a recognised clinical diagnosis.
Gender fluid - Describes a person who does not identify their gender to be fixed, and is capable of changing over time.
Heterosexual/straight - Someone attracted only towards people of one gender which is different from their own.
Homosexual - A more formal term to describe someone who is sexually attracted to another of the same sex. It is sometimes discouraged for common use and ‘gay’ is more generally used.
Intersex - Intersex is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit the normative definitions of female or male. Sometimes an intersex person is assigned a female or male sex at birth through surgery, but then as they grow up their gender identity can not align with the one they were legally assigned.
Lesbian - A female-identifying person who is sexually/romantically attracted to other women.
LGBTQ+ - An umbrella term used to describe people with queer gender and sexual identities. Literally standing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning and the ‘+’ is added for all those who do not fit into these categories, as a way to be inclusive of different identities. Sometimes it is lengthened to LGBTQIA+ to be more inclusive, since it incorporates intersex and asexual people.
Pansexual - Refers to someone who is not limited in sexual choice when it comes to biological sex, gender, or gender identity. They may sometimes refer to themselves as “gender-blind,” indicating that someone’s gender or sexual identity plays no role in their romantic or sexual attraction. Often shortened to ‘pan.’
Polyamory - Having sexual and romantic relationships with multiple people with the consent and respect of all those involved.
Queer - Is an umbrella term for those wanting to reject specific labels when it comes to romantic/sexual orientation or gender identities. It can be used interchangeably with the term LGBTQ+. Historically, the term has been used a slur so some reject the use of the word, yet many within the community have reclaimed the word.
QPOC/QTPOC - Term standing for ‘queer person of colour’ and ‘queer trans person of colour.’
Transgender - Describes someone whose gender identity does not align with their birth sex.
Transexual - A more medical term to describe someone whose gender identity does not align with their birth sex. Some people prefer to use the term trans or transgender.
Are there any terms you think we need to add? Let us know on any of our socials or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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