LGBTQ+ Terminology


Our understanding of LGBTQ+ issues and identities is constantly growing as strides are made in research and medical science. With increased understanding comes shifts in the language we use.We realize that not having the appropriate language to engage in conversations about gender identity and sexual orientation can be a significant barrier to engaging potential allies and increasing awareness of otherwise uninformed people with whom we interact.We have provided some key terms to words that we find are commonly misunderstood.


Identifying and/or presenting as neither overtly masculine or feminine. 



The lack of sexual attraction or desire for other people. 


Emotion, romantic, or sexual attraction to more than one sex, gender, or gender identity, though not necessarily simultaneously or to the same degree. 


A person whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Coming Out

The process by which a person first acknowledges, accepts, and appreciates their sexual orientation or gender identity and/or begins to share this information with others. 


Emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction to members of the same gender.

Gender Dysphoria

Clinically significant distress caused when a person's assigned birth gender is not the same as the one with which they identify. 

Gender Expansive

Conveys a wider, more flexible range of gender identity and/or expression than typically associated with the binary structure. 

Gender Expression

The external appearance of one's gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, tone of voice, and which may or may not conform to socially-defined behaviors. 


The fear and hatred of, and/or discomfort with, people who are attracted to members of the same gender or sex. Also, anti-LGBTQ. 


An umbrella term used to describe a wide range of natural bodily variations that may present as ambiguous sex organs. 


A woman who is emotionally, romantically, and/or sexually attracted to other women. 


A descriptor for someone who does not identify exclusively as male or female, or who does not subscribe to binary designations. 


Exposing someone's lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender identity to others without their permission. 


Emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction to people of any gender, though not necessarily simultaneously or to the same degree. 


An umbrella term used to identify oneself as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and/or a term people may use to express fluid identities and orientations. 


This term is often used to describe the process of exploring one's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Same-Gender Loving

A term some use instead of lesbian, gay, or bisexual  to express attraction to and romantic love of people of the same gender. 

Sex Assigned at Birth

The sex given to a child at birth, most often based upon the child's external anatomy. 

Sexual Orientation

An inherent and enduring emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction to other people. 


A term used to describe those whose gender identity and/or expression is different from the social expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. 



The process by which a transgender or non-binary person strives to have physical presentation more closely align to their gender identity. 


The fear and hatred of, or discomfort with, transgender people. 

These definitions were adapted from the Human Rights Campaign resources (