A beginner's guide to gender-identity and sexual-orientation terms
While many argue that nature determines the sex and gender of a person, science reveals that nature itself is not so definite in categorizing people into just two sexes. Understanding human sexuality requires understanding a multiple of factors beyond chromosomes and hormones.
While it is true that sex is determined by DNA and gender is what the person chooses to be, nature itself isn't as definite in determining sex as we assume it to be. Intersex individuals have variations in the chromosomes that make them not fit into the typical female or male sex.
These may express themselves as variations in the gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. Here is a list of terms and their definitions that will help us understand sex, gender, sexuality, and other human beings better.
Agender: a person who doesn't align oneself with traditional concepts of being man or woman
Ally: a (typically straight/cisgender) person who supports and respects members of the LGBTQ community
Androgynous: a gender expression that has elements of both masculinity and femininity
Androsexual/androphilic: being primarily sexually, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to men/males or masculinity
Aromantic: having little or no romantic attraction to others (abbreviated as arrow or aro)
Asexual: experiencing little or no sexual attraction to others and/or a lack of interest in sexual relationships/behavior (abbreviated as ace)
Bigender: a person who fluctuates between traditionally “woman” and “man” gender-based behavior and identities, identifying with both genders
Bicurious: a curiosity about having an attraction to people of the same gender/sex (similar to questioning)
Biphobia: a range of negative attitudes that one may have or express towards bisexual individuals. Biphobia can come from within the LGBTQ community as well as straight society. Negative attitudes and feelings would include fear, anger, intolerance, invisibility, resentment, erasure, or discomfort.
Bisexual: a person who is emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to people of their gender and other genders
Cisgender: a person whose gender identity and biological sex assigned at birth align (e.g., woman and assigned female at birth); easier way to understand this: if a person is not transgender, they are cisgender
Demisexual: a person who cannot or finds it hard to experience sexual attraction until a strong romantic or emotional connection is formed with another individual
Drag king: someone who performs masculinity theatrically
Drag queen: someone who performs femininity theatrically
Fluid(ity): describes an identity that may change or shift over time between or within the mix of the options available (e.g., man and woman, bi and straight); usually used with another term (e.g., gender fluid or fluid sexuality)
FtM/F2M; MtF/M2F: female-to-male transgender or transsexual person; male-to-female transgender or transsexual person
Gay: a) individuals who are primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to members of the same sex and/or gender. More commonly refers men who are attracted to other men, but applies to women who are attracted to women, as well b) A broader term used to refer to the entire community that doesn't identify as heterosexual.
Gender binary: the belief that there are only two genders (woman and man) and that every person is one of these two
Gender expression: the external display of one’s gender, through dressing, demeanor, social behavior, etc. a.k.a. gender presentation
Gender-fluid: an identity that makes a person feel unrestrained by definite gender identity; a person may feel more man on some days and more woman some days
Gender-variant: someone who either by nature or by choice does not conform to gender-based expectations of society (e.g. transgender, transsexual, intersex, gender-queer, cross-dresser)
Grayasexual: the gray area between asexuality and sexuality, in which a person may only experience sexual attraction on occasion
Gynesexual/gynephilic: being primarily sexually, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to women/females or feminity
Heteronormativity: the belief or assumption, in individuals or institutions, that everyone is heterosexual and that heterosexuality is superior to other sexualities
Heterosexual: a person primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex. (a.k.a straight)
Homophobia: a term for negative attitudes towards members of the LGBTQ community; the reactions may include fear, anger, intolerance, resentment, erasure, or discomfort.
Homosexual: a person primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to members of the same sex/gender. This medical term is considered derogatory and stigmatizing because of its historical usage as a category of mental illness (use gay or lesbian instead)
Intersex: a term for a combination of chromosomes, gonads, hormones, internal sex organs, and genitals that differs from the two expected patterns of male or female
LGBTQ; GSM; DSG: abbreviations used for all folks who have a non-normative (or queer) gender or sexuality; LGBTQ Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer and/or Questioning; GSM is Gender and Sexual Minorities; DSG is Diverse Sexualities and Genders
Monosexual: refers to a romantic or sexual attraction to members of one gender only; may identify as heterosexual, gay or lesbian
Pansexual: a person who experiences sexual or romantic attraction to all genders
Polyamory/polyamorous: refers to an orientation towards having honest, open, and consensual non-monogamous relationships
Polysexual: a person who experiences sexual or romantic attraction to more than one gender but not necessarily all genders
Queer: an umbrella term to describe individuals who don’t identify as straight; also used to describe those who don't identify with societal expectations of gender roles; can be considered a derogatory term due to its past usage; use LGBTQ instead
Skoliosexual: being primarily sexually, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to some genderqueer, transgender, transsexual, and/or non-binary people.
Third gender: for a person who does not identify with either man or woman, but identifies with another gender.
Trans*: an umbrella term for identities that transgress socially defined gender norms; trans with an asterisk is often used in written forms to refer the entire group including non-binary identities, transmen, and transwomen.
Transgender: a person who identifies with a gender other than the associated sex assigned at birth
Transsexual: a person who identifies psychologically as a gender/sex other than the one to which they were assigned at birth; transsexuals often desire to transition to the gender they feel naturally assigned to
Transvestite: a person who dresses as the binary opposite gender (cross-dresses) for fun, relaxation, or/and sexual gratification (not to be confused with transsexual)
If you have any views or stories that you would like to share with us, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org