LGBTQ AND TRANS DEFINITIONS

ally – typically any non-LGBT person who supports and stands up for the rights of LGBT people, though LGBT people can be allies, such as a lesbian who is an ally to  transgendered people.

bisexual – an adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attractions are to people of the same sex or the opposite sex.

cis-gender – referring to an individual who has a match between the gender they were assigned at birth and the roles and behaviors considered by society to be appropriate to their particular sex.

civil union - is a state-based relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples that offers some or all of the state (though none of the federal) rights, protections and responsibilities of marriage.

closeted - a closeted person and the expression ‘in the closet’ describes an LGBTQ person who hides their sexual orientation or gender identity from some or all people.

coming out – the process of disclosing your sexual orientation or gender identity to some or all people.

cross-dresser - A term for people who dress in clothing traditionally or stereotypically worn by the other sex, but who generally have no intent to live full-time as the other gender. Avoid using the word ‘transvestite’  as it is now widely considered a derogatory term.

drag king – used to refer to women who dress as men for the purpose of entertaining others at bars, clubs, or other events.

drag queen – generally used to accurately refer to men who dress as women (often celebrity women) for the purpose of entertaining others at bars, clubs, or other events. It is also used as slang, sometimes in a derogatory manner, to refer to all transgender women.

dyke - (slang) referring to a lesbian or lesbianism regardless of the person’s actual sexual identity. Originally, it was a derogatory label for a masculine or butch woman, and this usage still exists. However, it has also been re-appropriated as a positive term implying assertiveness and toughness, or simply as a neutral synonym for lesbian, regardless of individual gender expression.

fag – (slang) is a shortened version of the word faggot and is a pejorative term and common homophobic slur used chiefly in North America against homosexual males. The word has many meanings worldwide, like ‘bundle of sticks,’ ‘cigarette’  or as a culinary term for seasoning added to a meal. The etymology of the word faggot meaning homosexual is unclear, though the earliest known written reference was in 1914. Sometime gays have ‘reclaimed’ the word, but many still reject it. GLSEN’s ‘Think Before You Speak campaign is an example of the efforts made by the gay community to stop it’s popular usage.

gay – is an adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attractions are to people of the same sex.

gender expression – How a person represents or expresses one’s gender identity to others, often through behavior, clothing, hairstyles, voice or body characteristics.

gender identity – An individual’s internal sense of being male, female, or something else. Since gender identity is internal, one’s gender identity is not necessarily visible to others.

gender non-conforming – A term for individuals whose gender expression is different from societal expectations related to gender.

genderqueer – A term used by some individuals who identify as neither entirely male nor entirely female.

heterosexism – is a term that applies to a system of negative attitudes, bias, and discrimination in favor of heterosexual sexuality and relationships. It can include the presumption that everyone is heterosexual or that opposite-sex attractions and relationships are the norm and therefore superior. Heterosexism as discrimination ranks gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people as second-class citizens with regard to various legal and civil rights, economic opportunities, and social equality in the majority of the world’s jurisdictions and societies.

hate crime - is a crime (usually an act of violence) where the victim is targeted because of their perceived membership in a certain social group, such as a racial group, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity.

homophobia – is a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards LGBTQ people. Definitions refer variably to antipathy, contempt, prejudice, aversion, and irrational fear. Homophobia is observable in critical and hostile behavior such as discrimination and violence on the basis of a perceived non-heterosexual orientation. In a 1998 address, author, activist, and civil rights leader Coretta Scott King stated that “Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood.

internalized homophobia - refers to negative feelings that we have towards ourselves because of our homosexuality. The forms it may take can vary from outright shame, denial, or self-injury, to hating on other gay people and more unconscious behaviors as well.

intersex – A term used for people who are born with external genitalia, chromosomes, or internal reproductive systems that are not traditionally associated with either a “standard” male or female. (taken from the NCTE)

lesbian - A woman whose enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction is to other women. Some lesbians may prefer to identify as gay (adj.) or as gay women.

lifestyle – Inaccurate term used by anti-gay extremists to denigrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lives. As there is no one straight lifestyle, there is no one lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender lifestyle.

marginalized - Excluded, ignored, or relegated to the outer edge of a group/society/community.

PFLAG - Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays, is a non-profit ally group whose mission is to ‘promote the health and well-being of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender persons − while providing support and information to their families and friends.’

pansexual – A sexual orientation that refers to people who are attracted to individuals regardless of their gender or gender expression. Pansexuality widely rejects the gender binary.

Queer - A term used to refer to lesbian, gay, bisexual and, often also transgender people. Some use queer as an alternative to “gay” in an effort to be more inclusive, since the term does not convey a sense of gender. Depending on the user, the term has either a derogatory or an affirming connotation, as many have sought to reclaim the term that was once widely used in a negative way.

Transgender – An umbrella term for people whose gender identity, expression or behavior is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth, including but not limited to transsexuals, cross-dressers, androgynous people, genderqueers, and gender non-conforming people. Transgender is a broad term and is good for non-transgender people to use. “Trans” is shorthand for “transgender.”

Transgender Man – A term for a transgender individual who currently identifies as a man, aka FTM.

Transgender Woman – A term for a transgender individual who currently identifies as a woman, aka MTF.

Transition - The period during which a person begins to live as their new gender. Transitioning may include changing one’s name, taking hormones, having surgery, or changing legal documents (e.g. driver’s license, Social Security record, birth certificate) to reflect their new gender.

Transsexual - A term for people whose gender identity is different from their assigned sex at birth. Often transsexual people alter or wish to alter their bodies through hormones or surgery in order to make it match their gender identity.

Transvestite - An outdated term for a cross-dresser that is considered derogatory.

Two-Spirit – A contemporary term that references historical multiple-gender traditions in many First Nations cultures. Many Native/First Nations people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, or gender non-conforming identify as Two-Spirit; in many Nations, being Two-Spirit carries both great respect and additional commitments and responsibilities to one’s community.

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Many of our definitions were borrowed from GLAAD, GLSEN, and the NCTE, (and some from wikipedia) because they did them so well!