The terms and definitions below are always evolving, changing and often mean different things to different people. They are provided below as a starting point for discussion and understanding. This Glossary has been collectively built and created by the staff members of the LGBTQIA Resource Center since the early 2000s. Are we missing a word or term? Let us know!

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Glossary of Terms


The deliberate abstention from sexual activity. People choose to be celibate and not engage in sex for a variety of personal reasons. Those who are celibate deserve respect and should not be asked about their reasoning. (Source: UC Davis "Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity 101")

Chosen Family (aka: Found Family)

A chosen family is a family that is chosen by an individual to support, teach, comfort, and offer kinship to them. A chosen family may be related by blood or marriage, but this is not a requirement to be considered family. They may have titles such as "mother" or "sister," depending on how the individual wants to label these relations. Anyone can have a chosen family, but chosen families are often created by queer people out of necessity. Many queer individuals may not be able to turn to their biological parents or families, because their biological families may not accept them as they are. Thus, queer and trans folks often create chosen families that support, accept, and affirm who they are. (Source: FairyGodBoss "People in the Queer Community are Learning Their 'Chosen Family' - Here's Why That's Important)

Chosen Names (aka: Lived Names, Names in Use)

Chosen names/Lived Names/Names in Use are used interchangeably to indicate names other than legal names that an individual uses. There are many reasons someone may use a chosen name, such as to reflect their gender identity, use a nickname, or to fo by an Americanized name. Chosen names are often referred to as "preferred names," but one's chosen name is not a preference. It is a requirement to honor a person's identity and to use the name by which they ask to be called.(Source: Johns Hopkins “Supporting Chosen Names and Pronouns”)