Skip to content




LGBTQIA+ Glossary

Ability: The quality of being able to do something. Ability is also a social identity. This identity encompasses the diverse differences in an individual's array of physical, mental, learning, and/or emotional capacity. (Source: Appalachian State University "Big 8 Identities")(See: Disability)

Ableism: The pervasive system of discrimination and exclusion that oppresses people who have mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. (Source: Rauscher and McClintock “Ableism Curriculum Design”)

Aegosexual:  A sexual orientation generally characterized by not feeling a desire for partnered sexuality, yet still having sexual fantasies. Aegosexual individuals may experience some sexual desire, attraction, or arousal, but feel removed from the experience. (Source: OULGBTQ+ Society “Ace & Aro Spectrum Definitions)

Affectional Orientation (aka: Romantic Orientation): Affectional orientation is attraction or non-attraction to other people characterized by the expression or non-expression of love. This may be through falling in love or through a desire to partner an individual(s). Affectional orientation can be fluid and people use a variety of labels to describe their affectional orientation. See also Orientation. (Source: UC Davis "Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity 101")

Ageism:  Any attitude, action, or institutional structure which subordinates a person or group because of age, or any assignment of roles in society purely on the basis of age. (Source: Traxler “Let’s get gerontologist: developing a sensitivity to aging”)

Agender: A person who is internally ungendered or does not have a felt sense of gender identity.

Allosexism: The pervasive system of discrimination and exclusion that oppresses asexual people.

Allosexual: A sexual orientation generally characterized by feeling sexual attraction or a desire for partnered sexuality.

Allistic: An adjective used to describe a person whose neurology functions in a way that society deems to be acceptable or the “the norm.” A term used to call attention to the privilege of people who are not autistic.

Allyship: The action of working to end oppression through support of and as an advocate with and for a group other than one’s own.

AMAB/Assigned male at birth: A term used to describe individuals who were assigned male at birth.

Androgyne: A person with masculine and feminine physical traits.

Aromantic: A romantic orientation generally characterized by not feeling romantic attraction or a desire for romance. Aromantic people can be satisfied by friendship and other non-romantic relationships. Aromantic people may be asexual or allosexual.

Asexual: A sexual orientation generally characterized by not feeling sexual attraction or a desire for partnered sexuality. Asexuality is distinct from celibacy, which is the deliberate abstention from sexual activity. Some asexual people do have sex. There are many diverse ways of being asexual. Some asexual people are also aromantic while others desire romantic relationships.

Autism: “Autism is a neurological variation that occurs in about one percent of the population and is classified as a developmental disability. Although it may be more common than previously thought, it is not a new [neurological variation] and exists in all parts of the world, in both children and adults of all ages. The terms ‘Autistic’ and ‘autism spectrum’ often are used to refer inclusively to people who have an official diagnosis on the autism spectrum or who self-identify with the Autistic community. While all Autistics are as unique as any other human beings, they share some characteristics typical of autism in common.

Different sensory experiences.

Non-[dominant] ways of learning and approaching problem solving.

Deeply focused thinking and passionate interests in specific subjects.

Atypical, sometimes repetitive, movement.

Need for consistency, routine, and order.

Difficulties in understanding and expressing language as used in typical communication, both verbal and non-verbal.

Difficulties in understanding and expressing typical social interaction.”

From Autistic Self Advocacy Network - ASAN (

BDSM: Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadism and Masochism. BDSM refers to a wide spectrum of activities and forms of interpersonal relationships. While not always overtly sexual in nature, the activities and relationships within a BDSM context are almost always eroticized by the participants in some fashion. Many of these practices fall outside of commonly held social norms regarding sexuality and human relationships.

Bear Community: a part of the queer community composed of queer men similar in looks and interests, most of them big, hairy, friendly, and affectionate.  The community aims to provide spaces where one feels wanted, desired, and liked. It nourishes and values an individual’s process of making friends and of learning self-care and self-love through the unity and support of the community.  Bears, Cubs, Otters, Wolves, Chasers, Admirers and other wildlife comprise what has come to be known as the Brotherhood of Bears and/or the Bear community. See also: Ursula.

Bigender: Having two genders, exhibiting cultural characteristics of masculine and feminine roles.

Bisexual: A person whose primary sexual and affectional orientation is toward people of their same gender and of other genders, or towards people regardless of their gender. Another definition that some people define bisexuliaty is being attracted to men and women. 

BlaQ/BlaQueer: Folks of Black/African descent and/or from the African diaspora who recognize their queerness/LGBTQIA identity as a salient identity attached to their Blackness and vice versa. (T. Porter)   

Body Image: refers to how a person feels, acts, and thinks about their body. Attitudes about our own body and bodies in general are shaped by our communities, families, cultures, media, and our own perceptions. 

Body Policing: any behavior which (indirectly or directly, intentionally or unintentionally) attempts to correct or control a person's actions regarding their own physical body, frequently with regards to gender expression or size. (ASC Queer Theory)

Butch: A gender expression that fits societal definitions of masculinity. Usually used by queer women and trans people, particularly by lesbians. Some consider “butch” to be its own gender identity.

Chosen Names/Lived Names/Names in Use: All three are used interchangeably to indicate names other than legal names which many people use for a variety of reasons. The often refers to these names as "preferred names," but it important to note that part of honoring a person's identity is to use the name by which they ask to be called.

Cisgender/cis: a gender identity, or performance in a gender role, that society deems to match the person’s assigned sex at birth.  The prefix cis- means "on this side of" or "not across." Cisgender is not a gender itself but speaks to a gendered experience of staying with the gender often associated with the sex assigned at birth. Often just shortened to cis and placed before a person’s gender (i.e., cis man or cis woman).

Cissexism/Genderism: The pervasive system of discrimination and exclusion that oppresses people whose gender and/or gender expression falls outside of cis-normative constructs. This system is founded on the belief that there are, and should be, only two genders and that one’s gender or most aspects of it, are inevitably tied to assigned sex. Within cissexism cisgender people are the dominant/agent group and trans/gender non-conforming people are the oppressed/target group.

Coming Out: “Coming out" describes voluntarily making public one's sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It has also been broadened to include other pieces of potentially stigmatized personal information. Terms also used that correlate with this action are: "Being out" which means not concealing one's sexual orientation or gender identity, and "Outing, " a term used for making public the sexual orientation or gender identity of another who would prefer to keep this information secret.

Cross Dresser (CD): A term to describe a person who dresses, at least partially, as a member of a gender other than their assigned sex; carries no implications of sexual orientation or gender identity. This term has replaced “Transvestite,” which is considered out of date and no longer appropriate to use. Cross Dressers may or may not be trans.

Culture: A learned set of values, beliefs, customs, norms, and perceptions shared by a group of people that provide a general design for living and a pattern for interpreting life. “Culture is those deep, common, unstated, learned experiences which members of a given culture share, which they communicate without knowing, and which form the backdrop against which all other events are judged.” (E. Hall.)

Cultural Humility: An approach to engagement across differences that acknowledges systems of oppression and embodies the following key practices: (1) a lifelong commitment to self-evaluation and self-critique, (2) a desire to fix power imbalances where none ought to exist, and (3) aspiring to develop partnerships with people and groups who advocate for others on a systemic level.  (Melanie Tervalon & Jann Murray-García, 1998)

Deadnaming: the act of referring to/calling a trans person by their pre-transition name. 

Demisexual: Demisexuality is a sexual orientation in which someone feels sexual attraction only to people with whom they have an emotional bond. Most demisexuals feel sexual attraction rarely compared to the general population, and some have little to no interest in sexual activity. Demisexuals are considered to be on the asexual spectrum, meaning they are closely aligned with asexuality.

Disability / (Dis)ability / Dis/ability:  A social construct that identifies any restriction or lack of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered “typical” for a human being given environments that are constructed for and by the dominant or “typical” person.

Discrimination: Inequitable actions carried out by members of a dominant group or its representatives against members of a marginalized or minoritized group.

Ethnicity: A social construct which divides people into smaller social groups based on characteristics such as shared sense of group membership, values, behavioral patterns, language, political and economic interest, history, and ancestral geographical base.

Femme: An identity or presentation that leans towards femininity. Femme can be an adjective (he’s a femme boy), a verb (she feels better when she “femmes up”), or a noun (they’re a femme). Although commonly associated with feminine lesbian/queer women, it’s used by many to describe a distinct gender identity and/or expression and does not necessarily imply that one also identifies as a woman or not. (

Furry (Furries, Furry Fandom): People (or a community) who enjoy role playing primarily as anthropomorphic animals, creatures, or characters, either through costumes, or/and varying art mediums. The furry community at large is diverse in sexual orientation and gender identity.

Gay: Often used as an umbrella term to describe a sexual and affectional orientation toward people of the same gender. It can also be used by a man who is sexually or romantically attracted to other men. 

Gender: A social construct used to classify a person as a man, woman, or some other identity. Fundamentally different from the sex one is assigned at birth.

Gender Binary: The classification of gender into two distinct and opposite genders of man and woman.

Gender Dysphoria: Describes the negative or uncomfortable emotions many trans people feel regarding their bodies or appearance. It is the opposite of euphoria, which is bliss and happiness. Not every trans person experiences dysphoria, and how it is experienced varies from person to person. 

Gender Expansive: An umbrella term used for individuals who broaden their own culture’s commonly held definitions of gender, including expectations for its expression, identities, roles, and/or other perceived gender norms. Gender expansive individuals include those who identify as transgender, as well as anyone else whose gender in some way is seen to be stretching the surrounding society’s notion of gender.

Gender Expression: How one expresses oneself, in terms of dress and/or behaviors. Society, and people that make up the US society characterize these expressions as "masculine,” “feminine,” or “androgynous.” Individuals may embody their gender in a multitude of ways and have terms beyond these to name their gender expression(s).

Gender Fluid: A person whose gender identification and presentation shifts, whether within or outside of societal, gender-based expectations. Being fluid in motion between two or more genders.

Gender Identity: The felt and internal sense of gender. What our gender is, which may or may not correspond with the sex and gender one is assigned at birth.

Genderism/Cissexism: The pervasive system of discrimination and exclusion that oppresses people whose gender and/or gender expression falls outside of cis-normative constructs. This system is founded on the belief that there are, and should be, only two genders and that one’s gender or most aspects of it are inevitably tied to assigned sex. Within cissexism cisgender people are the dominant/agent group and trans/gender non-conforming people are the oppressed/target group.

Gender Outlaw: A person who refuses to be defined by conventional definitions of male and female.

Gender Non-conforming (GNC): People who do not subscribe to gender expressions or roles expected of them by society.

Genderqueer: A person whose gender identity and/or gender expression falls outside of the dominant societal norm for their assigned sex, is beyond genders, or is some combination of them.

Gender Variant: A person who varies from the expected characteristics of their assigned gender.

Heteronormativity: A set of lifestyle norms, practices, and institutions that promote binary alignment of biological sex, gender identity, and gender roles; assume heterosexuality as a fundamental and natural norm; and privilege monogamous, committed relationships and reproductive sex above all other sexual practices

Heterosexism: The assumption that all people are or should be heterosexual. Heterosexism excludes the needs, concerns, and life experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer people, while it gives advantages to heterosexual people. It is often a subtle form of oppression, which reinforces realities of silence and erasure for queer people.

Heterosexuality: A sexual orientation in which a person feels physically and emotionally attracted to people of a gender other than their own.

Homosexual/Homosexuality: An outdated term to describe a sexual orientation in which a person feels physically and emotionally attracted to people of the same gender.  Historically, it was a term used to pathologize gay and lesbian people.

Internalized oppression: The fear and self-hate of one’s own target/subordinate identity/ies, that occurs for many individuals who have learned negative ideas about their target/subordinate identity/ies throughout childhood. One form of internalized oppression is the acceptance of the myths and stereotypes applied to the oppressed group.

Intersectionality: A term coined by law professor Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw in the 1980s to describe the way that multiple systems of oppression interact in the lives of those with multiple marginalized identities. Intersectionality looks at the relationships between multiple marginalized identities and allows us to analyze social problems more fully, shape more effective interventions, and promote more inclusive advocacy amongst communities.

Intersex: Adjective used to describe the experience of naturally (that is, without any medical intervention) developing primary or secondary sex characteristics that do not fit neatly into society's definitions of male or female. Intersex is an umbrella term, and there are around 20 variations of intersex that are included in this umbrella term. Many visibly Intersex people are mutilated in infancy and early childhood by doctors to make the individual’s sex characteristics conform to society’s idea of what normal bodies should look like. Intersex people are relatively common, although society's denial of their existence has allowed very little room for intersex issues to be discussed publicly. “Hermaphrodite” is an outdated and inaccurate term that has been used to describe intersex people in the past.

Kink (Kinky, Kinkiness): Most commonly referred to as unconventional sexual practices from which people derive varying forms of pleasure and consensually play-out various forms of desire, fantasies, and scenes.

Latinx: Pronounced “La-TEEN-ex”, a non-gender specific way of referring to people of Latin American descent. Other commonly known ways of referring to people of Latin American descent are Latinos, Latinas, Latin@, Latina, and Latino. The “x” at the end replaces “o” and “a” which have been gendered suffixes, and it moves beyond terms like Latino/a and Latin@, which still reinforce a gender binary.  

Leather community: A community which encompasses those who are into leather, sado-masochism, bondage and domination, uniform, cowboys, rubber, and other fetishes. Although the leather community is often associated with the queer community, it is not a "gay-only" community.

Lesbian: A woman whose primary sexual and romantic orientation is toward people of the same gender.

LGBT: Abbreviation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender. An umbrella term that is often used to refer to the community as a whole. Our center uses LGBTQIA+ to intentionally include and raise awareness of Queer, Intersex, and Asexual people as well as myriad other communities under our umbrella. Also, RCSGD staff sometimes use “Queer and Trans” to refer to the entire community.

LGBTQIA+ Allyship: The practice of confronting heterosexism, sexism, genderism, allosexism, and monosexism in oneself and others out of self-interest and a concern for the well being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual people. Is founded on the belief and believes that dismantling heterosexism, monosexism, trans oppression/trans misogyny/cissexism, and allosexism is a social justice issue.

Lived Names/Names in Use/Chosen Names: All three are used interchangeably to indicate names other than legal names which many people use for a variety of reasons. The law often refers to these names as “preferred names,” but it is important to note that part of honoring a person’s identity is to use the name by which they ask to be called. 

Masculine of Center: Masculine of center (MOC) is a term, coined by B. Cole of the Brown Boi Project, that recognizes the breadth and depth of identity for lesbian/queer womxn who tilt toward the masculine side of the gender scale and includes a wide range of identities such as butch, stud, aggressive/AG, dom, macha, tomboi, trans-masculine, etc.

Microaggressions: Brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults about one’s marginalized  identity/identities. (D.W. Sue)

Misgendering: refer to someone (especially a trans person) using a word (especially a pronoun or form of address) that does not correctly reflect their gender. 

MOGAI: An acronym that stands for “marginalized orientations, gender alignments, and intersex” and is used by some in a similar way to the umbrella acronym: LGBTQIA.

Monogamy: Having only one intimate partner at any one time.

Monosexism: The belief in and systematic privileging of monosexuality as superior, and the systematic oppression of non-monosexuality.

Monosexual: People who have romantic, sexual, or affectional desire for one gender only. Heterosexuality and homosexuality are the most well-known forms of monosexuality.

MSM: An abbreviation for men who have sex with men; they may or may not identify as gay.

Mx.: Mx. (pronounced “Mix”) is a gender inclusive salutation. 

Names in Use/Chosen Names/Lived Names:All three are used interchangeably to indicate names other than legal names which many people use for a variety of reasons. The law often refers to these names as “preferred names,” but it is important to note that part of honoring a person’s identity is to use the name by which they ask to be called. 

Neurodiversity: Neurodiversity is a natural and valuable form of human diversity. It refers to the infinite variation of human brains, minds and neurocognitive functioning within our species. “Neurodiversity is not a trait that any individual possesses. Diversity is a trait possessed by a group, not an individual. When an individual diverges from the dominant societal standards of ‘normal’ neurocognitive functioning, they don’t ‘have neurodiversity,’ they’re neurodivergent”

From Nick Walker (

“These differences can include those labeled with Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyscalculia, Autistic Spectrum, Tourette Syndrome, and others. For many autistic people, neurodiversity is viewed as a [fact] and social movement that advocates for viewing autism as a variation of human wiring, rather than a disease. As such, neurodiversity activists reject the idea that autism should be cured, advocating instead for celebrating autistic forms of communication and self-expression, and for promoting support systems that allow autistic people to live as autistic people.” From The National Symposium on Neurodiversity


Neurodivergent: “Neurodivergent, sometimes abbreviated as ND, means having a brain that functions in ways that diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of ‘normal.’ A person whose neurocognitive functioning diverges from dominant societal norms in multiple ways – for instance, a person who is Autistic, dyslexic, and epileptic – can be described as multiply neurodivergent. The terms neurodivergent and neurodivergence were coined by Kassiane Asasumasu, a multiply neurodivergent neurodiversity activist.”

From Nick Walker (

Neurotypical: “Neurotypical, often abbreviated as NT, means having a style of neurocognitive functioning that falls within the dominant societal standards of ‘normal.’ Neurotypical can be used as either an adjective (‘He’s neurotypical’) or a noun (‘He’s a neurotypical’).” From Nick Walker (

Neutrois: A non-binary gender identity that falls under the genderqueer or transgender umbrellas. There is no one definition of Neutrois, since each person that self-identifies as such experiences their gender differently. The most common ones are: Neutral-gender, Null-gender, Neither male nor female, Genderless, and/or Agender.

Nonbinary: Gender is often misrepresented as two opposing genders, a binary of men or women, but there are a lot more genders that fall outside of that binary. Nonbinary people have a gender that is different than woman or man. For some people nonbinary is their gender, and others use nonbinary as an umbrella term which encompasses their gender. 

Nonmonosexual: people who are attracted to more than one gender.

Omnigender: Possessing all genders. The term is used specifically to refute the concept of only two genders.

Omnisexual: An attraction to all genders with a preference to one over the others.

Outing: Revealing a person’s sexual or gender identity, HIV status, or Immigration status without the person’s expressed consent or permission

Oppression: exists when one social group, whether knowingly or unconsciously, exploits another social group for its own benefit.

Individual Level: Beliefs or behaviors of an individual person; conscious or unconscious actions or attitudes that maintain oppression.

Institutional Level: Institutions such as family, government, industry, education, and religion are shapers of, as well as shaped by, the other two levels. The application of institutional policies and procedures in an oppressive society run by individuals or groups who advocate or collude with social oppression produces oppressive consequences.

Societal/Cultural Level: Society’s cultural norms perpetuate implicit and explicit values that bind institutions and individuals; cultural guidelines, such as philosophies of life and definitions of good, normal, health, deviance, and sickness, often serve the primary function of providing individuals and institutions with the justification for social oppression.

Orientation: Orientation is one’s attraction or non-attraction to other people. An individual’s orientation can be fluid and people use a variety of labels to describe their orientation. Some, but not all, types of attraction or orientation include: romantic, sexual, sensual, aesthetic, intellectual, and platonic.

Pansexual: An attraction to all genders without a preference: either not seeing genders or choosing for it to not be a determinant factor.

Passing: Refers to a trans person’s ability to be “correctly” perceived as the gender they are and not be perceived as trans. Not every trans person’s goal is to pass. 


Phobia: In terms of mental/emotional wellness - a phobia is a marked and persistent fear “out of proportion” to the actual threat or danger the situation poses after taking into account all the factors of the environment and situation. Historically this term has been used to inaccurately refer to systems oppression (i.e. homophobia has been used to refer to heterosexism).

Polyamory: Denotes consensually being in/open to multiple loving relationships at the same time. Some polyamorists (polyamorous people) consider “polyam” to be a relationship orientation. Sometimes used as an umbrella term for all forms of ethical, consensual, and loving non-monogamy.

Polygender, Pangender: Exhibiting characteristics of multiple genders, deliberately refuting the concept of only two genders.

Privilege: a set of unearned benefits given to people who fit into a specific social group. The concept has roots in WEB DuBois’ work on “psychological wage” and white people’s feelings of superiority over Black people. Peggy McIntosh wrote about privilege as a white woman and developed an inventory of unearned privileges that she experienced in daily life because of her whiteness.

Pronouns: Pronouns are used in everyday speech and writing to take the place of people's names. 

Example: Naomi transferred to UCSB this year. They are excited to get involved on campus!

We frequently use them without thinking about it. Often, when speaking of someone in the third person, these pronouns have a gender implication. These associations are not always accurate or helpful because you cannot tell what pronouns someone uses by the way they look.

Queer: One definition of queer is abnormal or strange. Historically, queer has been used as an epithet/slur against people whose gender, gender expression, and/or sexuality do not conform to dominant expectations. Some people have reclaimed the word queer and self identify as such. For some, this reclamation is a celebration of not fitting into norms/being “abnormal.” Manifestations of oppression within gay and lesbian movements such as racism, sizeism, ableism, cissexism, transmisogyny as well as assimilation politics, resulted in many people being marginalized, thus, for some, queer is a radical and anti-assimilationist stance that captures multiple aspects of identities.  

Questioning: The process of exploring one’s own gender identity, gender expression, and/or sexual orientation. Some people may also use this term to name their identity within the LGBTQIA+ community.

Race: A social construct that divides people into distinct groups based on characteristics such as physical appearance, ancestral heritage, cultural affiliation, cultural history, ethnic classification, based on the social, economic, and political context of a society at a given period of time.

Racism: The systematic subordination of marginalized racial groups (Indigenous/Native American, Black, Chicanx, Asian, Pacific Islander, and non-white Latinx people, non-white Middle Eastern people, etc.) who have relatively little social power in the United States, by members of the agent/dominant/privileged racial group who have relatively more social power (white).

Religion: A personal or institutionalized system of beliefs and practices concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, often grounded in belief in and reverence for some supernatural power or powers; often involves devotional and ritual observances and contains a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

Romantic Orientation: Romantic Orientation (also referred to as affectional orientation) is attraction or non-attraction to other people characterized by the expression or non-expression of love. Romantic orientation can be fluid and people use a variety of labels to describe their romantic orientation. See also Orientation.

Same Gender Loving: A term used by some African American people who love, date, have attraction to people of the same gender.

Sex Assigned at Birth: A medically constructed categorization that assings and classifies people as male, female, or intersex. Sex assigned at birth is often assigned based on the appearance of the genitalia only either in ultrasound or at birth. This language is more appropriate and more respectful to those whose assigned sex does not align with their gender instead of just “sex” on its own.

Sexism: The cultural, institutional, and individual set of beliefs and practices that privilege men, subordinate women, and devalue ways of being that are associated with women.

Sexuality: The components of a person that include their biological sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual practices, etc.

Sexual Orientation: Sexual Orientation is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual, or affectional attraction or non-attraction to other people. Sexual orientation can be fluid and people use a variety of labels to describe their sexual orientation. See also Orientation.

Sizeism: The pervasive system of discrimination and exclusion that oppresses people who have bodies that society has labeled as “overweight,” as well as people of short stature. Fat oppression, more specifically, highlights the ways that Fat people experience and navigate a world and institutions that are not built with their hxstories, needs, and body size in mind. This often takes the form of labeling these bodies as unhealthy, undesirable, and lazy and fails to complicate narratives around health and healthy living.

Social Identities: Social identity groups are based on the physical, social, and mental characteristics of individuals. They are sometimes obvious and clear, sometimes not obvious and unclear, often self-claimed, and frequently ascribed by others.

Social Justice: A goal and a process in which the distribution of resources is equitable in a society and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. Begins with an acknowledgement that oppression and inequity exist and must be actively dismantled on all levels. (Adams, Bell, & Griffin.)

Socio-Economic Class: Social group membership based on a combination of factors including income, education level, occupation, and social status in the community, such as contacts within the community, group associations, and the community's perception of the family or individual.

Spirituality: Having to do with deep feelings and convictions, including a person’s sense of peace, purpose, connection to others, and understanding of the meaning and value of life; may or may not be associated with a particular set of beliefs or practices.

Stereotype: A generalization applied to every person in a cultural group; a fixed conception of a group without allowing for individuality. When we believe our stereotypes, we tend to ignore characteristics that don’t conform to our stereotype, rationalize what we see to fit our stereotype, see those who do not conform as “exceptions,” and find ways to create the expected characteristics.

Swinger (Swinging): A person or people in a committed relationship consensually engaging in sexual activity with others.

Trans*: The asterisk placed after Trans has been used in many different ways. Some folks think of it as being more inclusive towards gender non-conforming and nonbinary folks. But others have offered critique that it feels exclusionary towards GNC and nonbinary folks for enforcing a binary expectation to “fill in the blank" for trans man or trans woman.  There have also been discussions/critique regarding the origin of the asterisk.

Transgender/Trans man: Often shortened to Trans man. A man who was assigned female at birth. A person may choose to identify this way to capture their gender identity as well as their lived experience as a transgender person. Some trans men may also use the term FTM (Female to Male) or F2M (Female to Male) to describe their identity.

Transfeminine: A term used to describe trans people who were assigned male at birth and have somehow moved away from that gender. Their gender may or may not be binary (woman), but their gender expression might be more feminine than masculine. 

Transmasculine: A term used to describe trans people who were assigned female at birth and have somehow moved away from that gender. Their gender may or may not be binary (man), but their gender expression might be more masculine than feminine. 

Transgender woman: Often shortened to Trans woman. A woman who was assigned male at birth. Some trans women may also use MTF (Male to Female) or M2F (Male to Female) to describe their identity.

Transgender/Trans: Transgender is not a gender itself but speaks to a gendered experience of moving away in some way from the gender often associated with the sex assgiend at birth. Often just shortened to trans and placed before a person’s gender (i.e., trans man or trans woman, trans nonbinary). It is also used often as an umbrella term. It can describes a wide range of identities and experiences of people whose gender and/or expression differs from conventional expectations based on their assigned sex at birth. 


Transition: The process of taking one’s internal identity and outwardly expressing it in their life socially, emotionally, or medically. There are three general aspects to transitioning: (1) emotionally coming to terms and exploring one’s identity, (2) Socially changing of name, using different pronouns, coming out to peers, changing gender expression, and (3) medically taking hormones and undergoing gender affirming surgeries, etc. A trans individual may transition in any combination, or none, of these aspects.

Transsexual: A person who lives full-time in a gender different than their assigned birth sex and gender. Many pursue hormones and/or surgery. This term is becoming outdated and problematic. This term should not be used for a trans person unless they specifically use the term to describe themselves. 

Transvestite: This is an outdated and problematic term due to its historical use as a diagnosis for medical/mental health disorders. Cross Dresser has replaced transvestite, see above definition.

Two Spirit: “[This] term stems from the Ojibwe phrase niizh manidoowag and replaces the outdated, oversimplified term berdache, which appeared frequently in research and anthropological studies that aimed to describe the place of gay men in Native society in the 18th and early 19th centuries […] The phrase ‘two spirit’ began to gain traction across Native America after 1990, when 13 men, women, and transgender people from various tribes met in Winnipeg, Canada, with the task of finding a term that could unite the LGBTQ Native community. […]For me, the term ‘two spirit’ resists a Western definition of who we are and what we should be. Two spirit [people] are integral to the struggle of undoing the impacts of historical trauma, because our roles in tribes historically were part of the traditions taken away from us with Westernization.” - Zachary Pullin (Chippewa Cree), May/June 2014 Issues of Native Peoples

There are a variety of definitions and feelings about the term “two spirit” – and this term does not resonate for everyone.  

Ursula: Some lesbians, particularly butch dykes, also participate in Bear culture referring to themselves with the distinct label Ursula.

Womyn/Womxn: Some womyn spell the word with a “y” or an “x” as a form of empowerment to move away from the “men” in the “traditional” spelling of women.