Glossary of LGBT terms
An alphabetical list of terms relating to gender and sexual orientation.
Agender ('without gender') - Denoting or relating to a person who does not identify themselves as having a particular gender. Also see non-binary.
Asexual, asexuality or non-sexuality - A lack of sexual attraction to any person, or low or absent interest in sexual activity.
Binary (or gender binary) - The idea that there are only two possible genders – male and female – which can be assigned on the basis of genitalia. This often also enforces masculinity for men and femininity for women through gender roles and socially-imposed restrictions.
Bisexual or bi - People who are physically, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to both men and women.
Biphobia - A range of negative attitudes and feelings towards bisexual people. Biphobia is a source of discrimination against bisexual people.
Closeted or ‘in the closet’ - An LGBT person who has not disclosed their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Coming out - When a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person discloses their sexual orientation or true gender.
Gay - A person (male or female) whose sexual orientation is attraction to people of the same sex and/or gender.
Gender-blind (sex-blind) - A person who does not distinguish people by gender.
Gender fluid - A gender-fluid person may at any time identify as male, female or any other, non-binary identity. Their gender identity can vary at random or in response to different circumstances. Gender-fluid people may also identify as multi-gender, non-binary and/or transgender.
Gender neutrality or gender-neutralism - The idea that policies, language and institutions should avoid distinguishing roles according to one’s gender.
Genderqueer - An umbrella term with a similar meaning to non-binary. It can be used to describe any gender identities outside of the male–female gender binary imposed by society.
Heterosexual - People whose enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction is to people of the opposite sex. Also known as straight.
Homophobia - A range of negative attitudes and feelings towards lesbian, gay and, in some cases, bisexual or transgender people.
Homosexual - People whose enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction is to people of the same sex. This is an outdated clinical term, which is considered derogatory and offensive by many gay and lesbian people.
Intersex - A person with a variation in sex characteristics, including chromosomes and genitals, that does not allow the individual to be identified as male or female.
Lesbian - A woman whose enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction is to other women.
LGBT, LGB&T, LGBorT, GLBT or LGBTQ - Acronyms used for 'lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender'. LGBT (or one of the variations) is often used because it's more inclusive of the diversity of the community than just saying 'gay and lesbian'. The Q at the end of 'LGBTQ' typically stands for queer and/or questioning.
Multi-gender - Anyone who experiences more than one gender identity. It can be a gender identity in its own right, or can be an umbrella term for other identities that fit this description, such as gender fluid, non-binary and/or transgender.
Non-binary - Any gender identity that does not fit within the binary of male and female.
Openly gay (also openly lesbian, openly bisexual and openly transgender) - People who self-identify as gay in their personal, public, and/or professional lives. While accurate and commonly used, the phrase still implies a confessional aspect to publicly acknowledging one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Out - A person who self-identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender in their personal, public, and/or professional lives. Preferred term rather than saying 'openly gay'.
Outing - The act of publicly declaring (sometimes based on rumour and/or speculation) or revealing another person's sexual orientation or gender identity without that person's consent. Outing is considered inappropriate by a large portion of the LGBT community.
Pansexual or omnisexual - People who are physically, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to people of any sex or gender identity. Pansexual people may refer to themselves as gender-blind, since gender and sex are irrelevant when determining whether they will be sexually attracted to others.
Queer - Traditionally a negative term, 'queer' has been adopted by some LGBT people to describe themselves. However, it is not universally accepted even within the LGBT community and should be avoided unless in a direct quote or describing someone who self-identifies as queer.
Sexual orientation – The characteristic that describes whether a person has a physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to members of the same and/or opposite sex. It includes lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual orientations. Avoid using the term 'sexual preference', which is often viewed as offensive, as it can suggest that being gay, lesbian or bisexual is voluntary and therefore 'curable'.
Straight - Another term used for heterosexual.
Transgender or trans - An umbrella term for anyone whose assigned-at-birth gender (normally based on genitalia) does not match their internal experience of gender. Transgender people often experience discomfort or distress due to their gender not being recognised by others, and therefore wish to transition to being viewed as their true gender identity. 'Trans' may also be an abbreviation for transsexual, so should be avoided if not clear from the context.
Transition - The process of changing a person’s sex characteristics, gender expression and/or lifestyle in order to align with their gender identity. Any transgender person may wish to transition, including those with non-binary identities. However, transition is not necessary to be transgender, and some transgender people prefer not to transition for a variety of reasons.
There are 3 major kinds of transition:
- medical transition is changing one's sex characteristics through medical procedures (including surgery and hormone therapy)
- social transition is changing how the person is viewed by others, by making their gender identity public (including changing names and asking others to use different pronouns)
- legal transition is changing the person's legal gender (which may require proof that a medical and/or social transition has already taken place)
Transsexual or transexual - A term preferred by some people who have undergone (or want to undergo) medical transition. Many transgender people do not identify as transsexual and prefer the word 'transgender'. 'Trans' may be an abbreviation for either term, so should be avoided if not clear from the context.
Transphobia - A range of negative attitudes and feelings towards transgender or trans people. Transphobia is a source of discrimination against transgender people.