Terminology

Hello my fellow queerders! This is a space where I’ll explain or expand on certain words. Sometimes it’ll be a straight definition, other times it’ll be the definition with a little subtext or backstory as to why I choose that term over another. It’s meant as a resource and a jumping off point if you’re doing your own research into a topic. This page is constantly being updated as I learn. If you come across a term that isn’t listed, please feel free to share!

As always – if you have questions, please don’t hesitate to message me!


Abrosexual/romantic: Someone who experiences a fluid and/or changing orientation.

Ace: An umbrella term for any identity on the asexual spectrum. Also, shorthand for “asexual.”

Affirm: To support, validate, and/or assert that something is true/correct.

Agender/genderless: Someone who is without gender, gender neutral, and/or rejects the concept of gender themselves.

Androgyne: A non-binary gender in which a person is both a man and woman, neither a man nor woman, and/or somewhere in between man and woman.

Adrogynesexual/romantic: Someone who is attracted to androgyny.

Androgynous: Possessing qualities which are traditionally associated with both masculine and feminine, neither masculine nor feminine, and/or in between masculine and feminine.

Appropriation: Borrowing or adopting something as one’s own when it did not originate from them or their culture. This type of use occurs without proper understanding, credit, and/or permission. (Example: white people wearing feathered headdresses as costumes during Halloween.)

Aro: An umbrella term, or stand-alone identifier, for someone who experiences little or no romantic attraction.

Autosexual/romantic: Being able to elicit a sexual/romantic attraction from yourself by yourself and/or not desiring to partake in sexual activity with others, but still enjoying being sexually intimate with yourself.

Bicurious: Someone curious about having sexual/romantic attractions and/or experiences with more than one gender.

Bigender: Someone who has/experiences two genders.

Binary: The rigid way society divides sex and gender into only tow categories: 1) male/men and 2) female/women.

Cisgender/Cis: A person whose gender identity is the same as their sex and/or gender assigned at birth.

Demisexual/romantic: A person who only experiences attraction to people with whom they have formed a strong emotional bond.

Enby: This is a slang term meaning “a non-binary person.” Some non-binary individuals enjoy the term, while others do not.  Use with your non-binary friend, co-worker, and/or family member’s consent.

Erasure: What an identity is given insufficient representation, made invisible, or its existence is invalidated.

-flexible: Suffix indicating someone is predominantly attracted to one gender but allows for and acknowledge exceptions. (Example usage: heteroflexible, homoflexible, etc.)

Gender: In the context of individual self, gender is the state of being a man, a woman, both, neither, somewhere in between, or something entirely different. In the context of society, gender is a system of classification rooted in social ideals about masculinity and femininity.

Gender confusion/Gender fucked: A person who is unsure where they fall on the gender spectrum or gender binary.  Some individuals are comfortable in this title, while for others it can cause major anxiety.

Gender dysphoria: Distress or unhappiness experiences because one’s gender does not match their sex and/or gender assigned at birth.

Gender euphoria: Extreme happiness, or comfortability, experienced because a person’s gender is being affirmed.

Gender expression: The manifestation of one’s gender.

Gender identity: The identifier (or lack of identifier) someone uses to communicate how they understand their personal gender, navigate within or outside our societal gender systems, and/or desire to be perceived by others.

Gender indifferent: Being gender indifferent means being apathetic about one’s gender/gender expression.

Gender neutral: Having a gender that is neutral.

Gender nonconforming/Gender diverse/Gender variant/Gender-expansive: These are umbrella terms and descriptors which refer to people who identify and/or express themselves in ways that are different from society’s binary norms.

Gender Roles: A set of societal norms dictating the types of behaviors which are generally considered acceptable, appropriate, or desirable for people based on their actual or perceived sex or sexuality.

There was a fabulous hashtag “Pizza Roles Not Gender Roles” back in March of 2015 that touched on the issues of enforced gender roles and how they’re actually harmful. If you’re looking for something to distract yourself with, I’d give the following YouTube Videos a watch (which will probably send you on an awesome YouTube rabbit hole journey):

How Disney Stereotypes Hurt Men
How To Be Ladylike
Gender Rolls for Kids (Infomercial)

Genderfluid: Having a gender that changes.

Genderflux: Someone whose experience with gender changes (fluctuates) in intensity.

Genderqueer: Someone whose gender exists outside of or beyond society’s binary concept of gender.

Graysexual/romantic: People who experience very low amounts of attraction; people who experience attraction rarely or only under certain conditions; and/or people who are not sure whether they experience attraction.

Graygender: This identity involves having a weak sense of gender and/or being somewhat apathetic about one’s gender identity/expression.

Heterosexual/romantic a.k.a, Straight: Being attracted to the other binary gender.

Heteronormative: Denoting or relating to a world view that promotes heterosexuality as the normal or preferred sexual orientation.  As heterosexuality is the default in most societies, heteronormative is usually used in context to societal expectations for someone based on their gender.  (See also Gender Norms.)

Homosexual/romantic:  A person who is attracted to the same or similar gender(s) as their own.

Internalization: Conscious or unconscious learning/assimilation of behaviors/attitudes.

Intersectionality: The various ways a person or group’s combined social identities/roles (e.g., gender, race, socio-economic status, etc.) interact to shape their experience of the world.

LGBTQIA+: Stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questionsing, intersex, asexual/aromantic, and the plus stands for the other identities that are not straight and/or not cisgender and any left out, as the acronym is constantly evolving to be more inclusive.

LGBTTQQIAAP2 (or commonly referred to as LGBTQ, LGBT, LGBT+, GLBT, etc.): lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, pansexual, two spirited.

Lesbian: Women (as well as non-binary and genderqueer people who feel a connection to womanhood) who are attracted to other women.

Gay: This label can refer specifically to men who are attracted to men; it can refer to people who are primarily attracted to the same or similar gender as their own; or it can be an umbrella term for anyone who is not straight.

Bisexual: Being attracted to two or more genders.

Transgender:  An umbrella term for anyone whose gender identity does not match their sex and/or gender assignment at birth. (See expanded definition below.)

Transsexual: A person whose gender is different from their sex/gender assigned at birth. Sometimes this identity is associated with having undergone and/or wanting to some kind of medical transition. This is an older term that has fallen out of popular usage in favor of the word “transgender.”

Queer: An umbrella term or identity taken on by some LGBTQIA+ people to describe a sexual and/or gender identity that falls outside societal norms. This term has a history of being used as a slur. Although it has been reclaimed by many in the LBGTQIA+ community, not everyone is comfortable using it.

Questioning: Being unsure of one’s sexual/romantic orientation or gender identity.

Intersex: A sex category that includes people whose anatomy does not completely fit into either of society’s typical definitions of male or female.

Asexual: An umbrella tern, or stand-along identifier, for someone who experiences little or no sexual attraction.

Ally: Someone who does not identify as LGBTQIA+, but actively supports the community.

Pansexual (A.K.A Omnisexual): Capable of being attracted to any or all gender(s) regardless of sex, gender, or gender identity.

Two Spirited: Refers to a person who has both a masculine and a feminine spirit and is used by some First Nations people to describe their sexual, gender and/or spiritual identity.

Maverique: Someone who has an autonomous gender which exists entirely independent of the binary genders man and woman.

Maxigender: Someone who experience many, and somethings, all available genders to them.

Multigender/Polygender: Someone who has/experiences more than one gender.

Non-binary (NB): Existing or identifying outside the sex/gender binary, being neither a man nor woman, or being only partially or a combination of these things.

Norms (e.g., gender norms): To make something accepted as common or natural in society.

Novosexual/romantic: A person whose attractions change based on the gender(s) they are experiencing.

Pan/Omnigender: People who experience many, and sometimes, all genders.

Polyamory: The practice or desire of relationships involving more than two people with the consent of all individuals in the relationship.

Polysexual/romantic: Someone who experiences attraction to multiple, but not necessarily all, genders.

Privilege: Benefits and opportunities automatically afforded to majorities or non-oppressed groups of people, that are usually unnoticed or taken for granted and occur at the expense of oppressed groups of people.

Pronouns: Words used to refer to specific people when their proper names are not being used (e.g., he, she, they, ze, etc.).

Queer Alphabet: This is an original umbrella term that I use when talking about the LGBTQ+ spectrum. I use this because as I have studied queer culture (and lived it), the acronym has changed more times that I can count.  The issue with using a specific acronym is that sometimes orientations are unintentionally left out. My intention is to never unintentionally exclude someone from the conversation, so I use “the queer alphabet” as a catch all phrase when talking about the sexual orientation spectrum.  This phrase is not to invalidate anyone’s gender expression or sexual orientation – all expressions and orientations are valid and I support them 100%.  When I speak about specific gender expressions and sexual orientations, I try to use their names/labels.  But when talking about the queer community as a whole, I default to “Queer Alphabet.”

Queerbaiting (or Queer Baiting): “When people in the media (usually television/movies) add homoerotic tension between two characters to attract more liberal and queer viewers with the indication of them not ever getting together for real in the show/book/movie” or a “tactic where a queer relationship or character is hinted at to attract/appeal to the queer market, and then is denied, either modifying the character’s behavior (making them enter an opposite gender relationship), playing it off as a joke (sometimes a recurring joke or trope), or denying the assumptions (in interviews, panels and such) without modifying the character’s behavior.”

Recently, this has been something that has started taking on a new definition to where showrunners/screenwriters include a gay character or relationship in their show, but do not actively do anything with it or give those characters/relationships little screen time.  It is the inclusion of queer themes (whether tension, characters, relationships, etc.) to gain a bolstered number to their ratings by appealing to a queer audience.  It is also seen in capitalist society largely around Pride month – companies who are otherwise silent on LGBTQ+ rights during all other eleven months of the year begin to sell rainbow everything in order to profit of the LGBTQ+ community.

Romantic Attraction: “Romantic attraction is an emotional response that most people often feel that results in a desire for a romantic relationship with the person that the attraction is felt towards. Many asexual people experience romantic attraction even though they do not feel sexual attraction.”

Self-Identification: The act of identifying a particular way, one that feels right or true for oneself.

Sex: Societal classification of a person’s biology. Society typically recognizes only two sex categories, male and female, each with specific biological (e.g., reproductive organs) requirements.  The societal classification on a binary, however, fails to explain intersex individuals, who can be born with both reproductive organs.

Sex/gender assignment: Society’s propensity to label an infant as male or female, man or woman, at birth, usually based on the appearance of their genitals.

Sexual Attraction: “attraction on the basis of sexual desire or the quality of arousing such interest. Sexual attractiveness or sex appeal is an individual’s ability to attract the sexual or erotic interest of another person, and is a factor in sexual selection or mate choice.”

Skoliosexual/romantic a.k.a ceterosexual/romantic: People who are attracted to people of non-binary (nb) genders.

Society: The dominant community of people, laws, traditions, values, and culture in a particular are.

Spectrum: Concepts and models of identities that challenge mainstream beliefs about the rigidity of sexuality and gender. Spectrums illustrate that people can exist in the spaces between the more commonly established identities.

Trans/Transgender: An umbrella term for anyone whose gender identity does not match their sex and/or gender assignment at birth.

CAFAB/CAMAB: These are acronyms for “coercively assigned female at birth” and “coercively assigned male at birth.”

DFAB/AFAB/FAAB: Acronyms for “designated female at birth,” “Assigned female at birth,” and “female assigned at birth.”

DMAB/AMAB/MAAB: Acronyms for “designated male at birth,” “assigned male at birth,” and “male assigned at birth.”

Female to Female/FTF: Someone whose sex and/or gender was assigned male at birth and who rejects that their gender was ever male.

FTM: Acronym for “female to male.”

IAFAB/IAMAB (or FAFAB/FAMAB): Acronyms for “intersex assigned female/male at birth” and “forcibly assigned female/male at birth.”

MTF: Acronym for “male to female.”

Male to Male/MTM: Someone whose sex and/or gender was assigned female at birth and who rejects that their gender was ever female.

Trans man: Someone who was assigned female at birth and is a man.

Trans woman: Someone who was assigned male at birth and is a woman.

Transfeminine: A term used to describe someone who was assigned male at birth, and who has a predominantly feminine gender and/or expresses themselves in a way they describes as feminine.

Transition: The process of accepting oneself and/or pursuing changes in order to affirm one’s gender and/or alleviate dysphoria.

Transmasculine: A term used to describe someone who was assigned female at birth, and who has predominantly masculine gender and/or expresses themselves in a way they describe as masculine.

***Special note – all individuals under the trans umbrella have their own preferences for what acronyms they do and don’t like.  Always have a conversation with your trans friends regarding what terms and acronyms they’re comfortable with.

Trigender: Someone who has/experiences three genders.

Trysexual/romantic: Someone who is sexually and/or romantically open to experimenting.

Umbrella term: A word or phrase that collectively describes or refers to more than one identity/orientation/group of people.

Validate: To acknowledge, support, and/or accept that something is real and legitimate.

Woman: Someone who identifies as a woman.