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

Identity First Language

Identity first language puts the identity first in the description before the person. This identity may include a disability, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender. Some examples of identity first language are "Black woman" and "autistic person." Some individuals prefer to use identity first language that their identity is an essential part of who they are. However, some may not prefer identity first language because they find it minimizing. They are not their identity, their disability, condition; they simply have an identity, disability, or condition. Always check in with someone to find out their preferred language preferences. How a person chooses to self-identity is up to them, and they should not be corrected if they choose to use identity person language. (Source: EARN “Person First and Identity First Language")


Adjective used to describe the experience of naturally (that is, without any medical intervention) occurring variations in reproductive or sex anatomy that do not fit neatly into society's definitions of male or female. Variations may appear in a person’s chromosomes, genitals, or internal organs. Intersex is an umbrella term, and there are around 30 variations of intersex that are included in this umbrella term. Intersex people are relatively common, although society's denial of their existence has allowed very little room for intersex issues to be discussed publicly. Intersex advocates work to end unnecessary cosmetic and medical surgery on intersex youth. “Hermaphrodite” is an outdated and inaccurate term that has been used to describe intersex people in the past. (Source: interACT “Intersex Definitions”)