LGBTQ Terminology

Why is all this terminology important?
 
Many people do not realize the harm they are causing when they speak or behave in ways that LGBTQ persons find offensive or triggering. We can only address our own ignorance or phobia by discovering the existence of the concepts we do not know, learning about them, and understanding how to behave and communicate in more culturally sensitive ways.

Sex & Gender

Gender Assigned at Birth
The gender assigned to a person based on the physical appearance of their reproductive genitals at the time of their birth.
Biological Sex
The chromosomes, physical appearance of genitals, sex hormone levels, and gonads, that comprise the gender expressed by the body. Most people are born as biologically male or female, but some are born intersex: possessing an uncommon combination of chromosomes, or with genitals that don't meet society's standards for the appearance of either binary gender (female or male). For many people, biological sex remains constant throughout their lives. For trans people who use hormone therapy and/or gender affirming surgery to alter their sex hormones and/or genitals, biological sex can fluctuate during their lifetimes and become complicated to define.
Gender Identity
The personal sense of one's own gender identity. This often, but not aways, matches the gender a person is assigned at birth. Studies show that gender identity develops around ages 3-5, but for many nurture, social, personal, and environmental reasons, many people do not realize their gender identity until later in life.
Trans
An adjective referring to someone who identifies as transgender and/or non-binary. Refers to a person who gender identity does not match the gender they were assigned at birth.
 
Please note that this term is an adjective and should only be used as such; for instance, "John Doe is a trans person" is grammatically correct while "John Does is a trans" is not.
Transgender
An adjective referring to someone whose gender identity does not match the gender they were assigned at birth. Though many transgender people decide to use hormones and/or one or more surgeries to bring their physical body into greater congruence with their gender identity, some transgender people never medically transition in any way. Some transgender people never even change their gender expression, name, or pronouns. 
Please note that this term is an adjective and should only be used as such; for instance, "John Doe is a transgender person" is grammatically correct while "John Does is a transgender" is not.
Non-Binary
An adjective referring to someone whose gender identity does not align with either of the binary genders (male or female). Many people who are transgender also identify as non-binary, but many people who identify as non-binary do not also identify as transgender.
Please note that this term is an adjective and should only be used as such; for instance, "John Doe is a non-binary person" is grammatically correct while "John Does is a non-binary" is not.
Cisgender
An adjective referring to someone whose gender identity matches the gender they were assigned at birth. For instance, a person assigned female at birth and identifying as a woman is cisgender. This gender comprises the majority of the human population.
Please note that this term is an adjective and should only be used as such; for instance, "John Doe is a cisgender person" is grammatically correct while "John Does is a cisgender" is not.
Agender
An adjective referring to someone who feels they have no gender identity or who rejects the concept of gender altogether. For instance, a person assigned female at birth and identifying as a woman is cisgender. This gender comprises the majority of the human population.
Please note that this term is an adjective and should only be used as such; for instance, "John Doe is an agender person" is grammatically correct while "John Does is an agender" is not.
Binarism
Putting gender into strictly 2 categories (male and female) and refusing to acknowledge genders outside of male and female. The reality is there are currently more than 200 gender identities in use today.
For example:
An instructor says, "When one commits murder, he or she should be arrested and stand trial."
The instructor's use of "he or she" implies that the gender of a hypothetical person must fall into 1 of only 2 categories, thereby implying that no one can possess a gender identity, or identify with pronouns, that are outside of those 2 categories. The instructor has failed to acknowledge gender diversity.
Gender Variance
The existence of gender identities outside of cisgender man and cisgender woman. Sometimes derogatively referred to as "tragenderism."
Gender Expression
The clothing, accessories, posture, mannerisms, interests, and appearance (hair style, use of makeup, jewelry) and other behaviors that are associated with a particular gender.
Transphobia
A reaction of fear, loathing, and discriminatory treatment of people whose identity or gender presentation (or perceived gender or gender identity) does not “match,” in the societally accepted way, the sex they were assigned at birth.
For example:
"Ew, is that man wearing a dress and makeup?"
The above comment implies a reaction of disgust toward a masculine-appearing individual who is expressing themselves in what is socially constructed in the United States to be within the realm of the feminim gender expression.
"For the field trip, I made the transgender stay in a separate hotel room of their own, rather than with the normal girls."
This faculty member not only segregated the student without consideration for whether they are out as transgender or feel comfortable being outed and isolated, but the faculty member's use of the adjective "normal" implies being cisgender is "normal" and therefore this faculty member considers being transgender to be "abnormal." This faculty member also failed to consider that segregating trans people calls attention to their presence, thereby reducing their safety. And if this transgender person identifies with the she/her/hers pronouns, and the faculty member is aware of this, then the use of the they/them/theirs pronouns is a disregard for the transgender person's correct pronouns. Finally, the use of the adjective "transgender" as though it is a noun offensively implies that "transgender" is the student's sole aspect of identity, or the only one of importance.
Heteronormativity
The belief that heterosexuality is the norm and that sex, gender, sexuality, and gender roles all align.
For example:
"I refuse to respect Arien's identity as a man because he keeps wearing pink and even wears dresses sometimes."
This person believes that because Arien's gender identity is male, Arien's gender expression should also always match.
"I don't understand why that trans woman is marrying a woman. The whole point of having a vagina is to put something in it."
This person assumes that because a trans woman has had vaginoplasty and identifies as a woman, her sexuality must match that of a heterosexual woman.
 
"That trans person still has breasts and has sex with men, so really, she is just a tomboy."
This comment assumes that a person assigned female at birth who is attracted to men cannot identify as a gay, trans man or identify with the male pronouns he/him/his.
Erasure
The omission of LGBTQ persons from cultural narratives.
For example:
An instructor teaches their students about Second Wave Feminism and Rosa Parks, but forgets to mention Stonewall.
This instructor has unintentionally omitted LGBTQ culture from their academic narrative on historical rights movements.
"Welcome to the show, ladies and gentlemen."
This announcer just ignored the presence of all trans persons within the audience.
An instructor begins a discussion with their students about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mary Wollstonecraft but when a student mentions Marsha P. Johnson, the instructor ignores the student's comment and redirects the conversation back to the aforementioned figures.
This instructor has erased an important LGBTQ figure from the classroom narrative on historical activists.
Gender Dysphoria
The distress (commonly feelings of discomfort, anxiety, and/or sadness) associated with the incongruence of one's biological sex and gender identity.
Misgender
Using the wrong pronoun to refer to someone, whether by accident or intentionally. 
Dead Name (or Birth Name)
Also sometimes referred to as "birth name," the "dead name" is the first name a trans person had before changing it during their social gender transition to one that more accurately represents their true identity. It is called a "dead name" because many trans people consider their old identity to be "dead" to them. Some trans people prefer to call it their "birth name" because they do not experience the same level of negativity with that name, though they may still experience just as much discomfort when referred to by it. The dead name/birth name is usually, though not always, the name a trans person was assigned at birth.
A Trans Ally
Someone who confronts heterosexism, transphobia, and heterosexual privilege in themselves and others because they care about the well-being of trans people and see heterosexism and transphobia as social justice issues.
A Trans Advocate
Someone who investigates their community's culture and facilities for trans-friendliness, inclusivity, and cultural competence, advocates for trans-friendly policy, facility, and law changes, and educates others about trans issues and needs because they see trans inequity, exclusion, and erasure as a social justice issue.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sexual Orientation

Sexual Orientation
The emotional and physical attraction a person is capable of experiencing for another person.
Heterosexual
Being capable only of emotional and physical attraction for someone of the opposite sex. This term is an adjective and should only be used as such. For instance, "John Doe is a heterosexual person" is the correct grammatical usage while "John Doe is a heterosexual" is not.
Homosexual
Being capable only of emotional and physical attraction for someone of the same sex. This term is an adjective and should only be used as such. For instance, "John Doe is a homosexual person" is the correct grammatical usage while "John Doe is a homosexual" is not.
Bisexual
Being capable only of emotional and physical attraction for people of the same or opposite sex or gender (males/men or females/women). Some bisexual people are capable of attraction for only cisgender people, while some are also, or exclusively, capable of attraction for transgender men and transgender women. "Bi" the latin word for two, denotes that this term is intended to be used to refer to attraction for people whose gender and/or sex aligns with those of a binary only; this term is not typically used to refer to people who are capable of attraction for androgynous-appearing, or non-binary identifying, individuals. This term is an adjective and should only be used as such. For instance, "John Doe is a bisexual person" is the correct grammatical usage while "John Doe is a bisexual" is not.
Pansexual
Being capable only of emotional and physical attraction for people of all, or many, gender expressions and/or biological sex. This term differs from bisexual because "pan," the Latin word for "many," denotes the ability to experience attraction to many different kinds of people. This generally includes people who are not only cisgender or whose gender identity and/or gender expression aligns with a binary, but also people who are, or who appear to be, non-binary. This term is an adjective and should only be used as such. For instance, "John Doe is a pansexual person" is the correct grammatical usage while "John Doe is a pansexual" is not.
Asexual
Not capable of physical and/or emotional attraction to anyone. This term is an adjective and should only be used as such. For instance, "John Doe is an asexual person" is the correct grammatical usage while "John Doe is an asexual" is not.
Homophobia
A reaction of fear, loathing, and discriminatory treatment of people who are, or appear to be, homosexual.
For example:
"I refuse to wear a rainbow bracelet because I don't want people to think I'm gay."
The above comment implies there is something wrong with being gay to such a severity that one must avoid the very possibility of being mistaken as such.
Biphobia
The aversion and discriminatory treatment of bisexuality and/or people who are bisexual, including the belief that bisexuality is not a genuine sexual orientation.
For example:
"She was a lesbian, then she switched to being heterosexual, and then she went lesbian again. She's clearly confused."
The above comment ignores the possibility that the person being discussed is bisexual.
Heterosexism
Assuming that everyone is—and should be—heterosexual and that heterosexuality is superior to other sexualities.
For example:
Someone who sees two men buying groceries together assumes they must be brothers or roommates and does not even consider they might be intimate partners.
"You identify as a man now? So does that mean you are now attracted to women?"
"Marriage is for men and women only; not men and men, or women and women, or non-binary people."
An LGBTQ Ally
Someone who confronts heterosexism, transphobia, homophobia, biphobia, and heterosexual privilege in themselves and others because they care about the well-being of LGBTQ people and see heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia as social justice issues.
An LGBTQ Advocate
Someone who investigates their community's culture and facilities for LGBTQ-friendliness, inclusivity, and cultural competence, advocates for LGBTQ-friendly policy, facility, and law changes, and educates others about LGBTQ issues and needs because they see LGBTQ inequity, exclusion, and erasure as a social justice issue.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Arien Reed    All Rights Reserved