Words Matter! A Glossary of LGBTQIA+ Terminology

Heather Edwards

There will be lots of terms I use throughout this website, in event descriptions and other blogs so here is your go-to page for all the "what exactly does that mean?" questions you might have about terminology that I use. 

It is important to note that the definition for each term listed below may vary depending on the individual who identifies as such. There is no “golden rule” on defining identities, as each human being is an individual. Each of these definitions is offered as a basic understanding of the word. Individuals who identify with any of these terms may understand it differently or offer varying specific nuances to each. It is exceedingly important to respect the nuances to an individual’s identity and recognize that that is their truth and respect that truth.

LGBTQIA+ Language

LGBTQIA+: An acronym meaning Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual and all other identities that are variant from Cisgender and Heterosexual. Sometimes this acronym is depicted as “LGBTQQIA+” the extra “Q” standing for “questioning”. 

: How an individual person identifies on (or outside of) the spectrum from Male-Female. Gender identities include Male, Female, Genderqueer, Nonbinary etc. Gender is not defined by sex organs and is instead defined by the person who inhabits the body. Gender may differ from the Sex the person was assigned at birth

: Typically how an individual body is gendered at birth. Sex refers to Male, Female, and Intersex bodies derived from primary and secondary sex organs i.e. penis and testes, vulva ond ovaries or a mix.
Orientation: Describes the attraction (or lack thereof) an individual feels toward other people. Includes, Homosexual, Gay, Lesbian, Heterosexual, Straight Demisexual, Asexual, Queer etc. 

: A person who identifies as Heterosexual feels attraction to an individual who is the "opposite" gender from their own identity. Heterosexual relationships are usually Male/Female. 

: An individual who identifies as Cisgender identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth. For example, a person with a penis and testes identifying as a man, or a person with a vulva and ovaries identifying as a woman. 

: An individual who identifies as a Lesbian is typically a person who identifies as a woman and is attracted to other individuals who identify as women. 

: An individual who identifies as Gay is typically a person who identifies as a man and is attracted to other individuals who identify as men. “Gay” can also be used in slang to mean “homosexual” both gay and lesbian. 

: An individual who identifies as Bisexual is attracted to individuals on both sides of the binary, i.e. a person who identifies as a man being attracted to men and women and a person who identifies as a woman being attracted to women and men. 

: An individual who identifies as Pansexual is attracted to individuals inside and outside of the binaries. 

: An individual who identifies as Asexual typically is an individual who doesn’t feel sexual attraction to other individuals. The spectrum of sexual attraction is wide, and identifying as asexual can describe different levels of sexual attraction to each individual. Asexual is also an umbrella term that includes Demisexuality. 

: An Individual who identifies as Demisexual typically needs an emotional attachment to an individual before feeling a sexual attraction to that individual. Demisexuality falls under the Asexual umbrella.

: An individual who identifies as Transgender does not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. This includes individuals who were assigned male at birth and identify as a woman (trans women) and individuals who were assigned female at birth and identify as men (trans men) as well as individuals who were assigned either male or female at birth and identify as neither (nonbinary individuals). 

: An individual who identifies as Nonbinary has a gender identity that falls outside the male-female spectrum. It could mean that the individual identifies as somewhere between male and female, or that they identify as something completely outside the spectrum of masculine-feminine. 

: An individual who identifies as Genderqueer identifies as an identity outside the scope of the masculine-feminine binary. 

: An umbrella term that encapsulates all non-cisgendered heterosexual identities. 

Intersex (Endosex)
: Intersex individuals are individuals born with a combination of sex characteristics and/or chromosomal makeup of both traditionally male and female bodies. This could include combinations of variations in chromosomes and sex organs. 

Thank you to Lane Wagner for assisting in getting these glossary blogs created!

Other Glossaries Available:
Pelvic Health
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