The main thing that has to be understood about LGBTQ+ community (besides the terminology) is the difference between sex, gender, and sexual orientation, and what that entails.

Sex is biological. It consists of your sex organs, your hormonal composition, and chromosomal composition. Although unfortunately it is widely believed that gender is a binary system, scientifically and factually that is incorrect. There is biological males, females, and intersex individuals, which is an umbrella term that consists of people that do not fall under the male or female categories. There are conditions where people may have XXY chromosomal composition, some people with irregular hormones, and some people have internal and external sex organs of both male and females, so they would not fall into the category of “male” or “female”.

Gender is lived, it is how you identify, it is how you truly feel. There are two categories of gender; identity and expression. Gender identity is your internal identification of which gender you identify. You can identify feminine, masculine, or as a non binary gender that doesn’t fit into the wide spread understanding of gender. Gender expression is how you choose to express your gender, and doesn’t necessarily correlate with your gender identity. You can identify as a female but choose to express your gender in a more masculine way, or vice versa.

Sexual orientation is who you are physically attracted to or emotionally attracted to. It can be fluid, change over the course of your life, and is never set in stone.

Here is a list of some terminology that pertains to the LGBTQ+ community, according to Itspronouncedmetrosexual.

Ally- a (typically straight and/or cisgender) person who supports and respects members of the LGBTQ community.  We consider people to be active allies who take action on in support and respect.

androgyny/ous- a gender expression that has elements of both masculinity and femininity

asexual- experiencing little or no sexual attraction to others and/or a lack of interest in sexual relationships/behavior.  Asexuality exists on a continuum from people who experience no sexual attraction or have any desire for sex, to those who experience low levels, or sexual attraction only under specific conditions, and many of these different places on the continuum have their own identity labels

biological sex- a medical term used to refer to the chromosomal, hormonal and anatomical characteristics that are used to classify an individual as female or male or intersex. Often referred to as simply “sex,” “physical sex,” “anatomical sex,” or specifically as “sex assigned at birth.”

bisexual- a person who is emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to people of their gender and another gender . This attraction does not have to be equally split or indicate a level of interest that is the same across the genders or sexes an individual may be attracted to.

cisgender- a person whose gender identity and biological sex assigned at birth align (e.g., man and assigned male at birth). A simple way to think about it is if a person is not transgender, they are cisgender. The word cisgender can also be shortened to “cis.”

cissexism- behaviour that grants preferential treatment to cisgender people, reinforces the idea that being cisgender is somehow better or more “right” than being transgender, and/or makes other genders invisible.

closeted– an individual who is not open to themselves or others about their (queer) sexuality or gender identity. 

coming out–  the process by which one accepts and/or comes to identify one’s own sexuality or gender identity (to “come out” to oneself), and the process by which one shares one’s sexuality or gender identity with others (to “come out” to friends, etc.).

demisexual-  little or no capacity to experience sexual attraction until a strong romantic or emotional connection is formed with another individual, often within a romantic relationship.

feminine-presenting; masculine-presenting- a way to describe someone who expresses gender in a more feminine/masculine way. 

fluid(ity)– generally with another term attached, like gender-fluid or fluid-sexuality, fluid(ity) describes an identity that may change or shift over time between or within the mix of the options available (e.g., man and woman, bi and straight)

FtM / F2M; MtF / M2F: female-to-male transgender person; male-to-female transgender person

gay –  individuals who are primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to members of the same sex and/or gender. More commonly used when referring to men who are attracted to other men, but can be applied to women as well. 

gender binary: the idea that there are only two genders and that every person is one of those two.

gender expression- the external display of one’s gender, through a combination of dress, demeanor, social behavior, and other factors, generally made sense of on scales of masculinity and femininity. Also referred to as “gender presentation.”

gender fluid– gender fluid is a gender identity best described as a dynamic mix of boy and girl. A person who is gender fluid may always feel like a mix of the two traditional genders, but may feel more man some days, and more woman other days.

gender identity – the internal perception of an one’s gender, and how they label themselves, based on how much they align or don’t align with what they understand their options for gender to be. Common identity labels include man, woman, genderqueer, trans, and more. Often confused with biological sex, or sex assigned at birth.

gender non-conforming– a gender identity label that indicates a person who identifies outside of the gender binary.

genderqueer- an umbrella term for many gender non-conforming or non-binary identities

heteronormativity – the assumption, in individuals or in institutions, that everyone is heterosexual (e.g. asking a woman if she has a boyfriend) and that heterosexuality is superior to all other sexualities

hermaphrodite – an outdated medical term previously used to refer to someone who was born with some combination of typically-male and typically-female sex characteristics.

heterosexual – a person primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex. Also known as straight.

homophobia – an umbrella term for a range of negative attitudes (e.g., fear, anger, intolerance, resentment, erasure, or discomfort) that one may have towards members of LGBTQ community.

homosexual – a person primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to members of the same sex/gender. 

intersex – term for a combination of chromosomes, gonads, hormones, internal sex organs, and genitals that differs from the two expected patterns of male or female.

lesbian –  women who have the capacity to be attracted romantically, erotically, and/or emotionally to some other women.

outing –involuntary or unwanted disclosure of another person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or intersex status.

pansexual- a person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions

passing –  trans people being accepted as, or able to “pass for,” a member of their self-identified gender identity (regardless of sex assigned at birth) without being identified as trans*. OR An LGB/queer individual who is believed to be or perceived as straight. Often seen as a derogatory term giving power to the “observer”

polyamory / polyamorous – refers to the practice of, desire to, or orientation towards having ethically, honest, and consensual non-monogamous relationships (i.e. relationships that may include multiple partners).  This may include open relationships, polyfidelity (which involves more than two people being in romantic and/or sexual relationships which is not open to additional partners), amongst many other set-ups.

queer – used as an umbrella term to describe individuals who don’t identify as straight. Also used to describe people who have a non-normative gender identity. Once a derogatory word now taken back by the LGBT community

romantic attraction – a capacity that evokes the want to engage in romantic intimate behavior (e.g., dating, relationships, marriage), experienced in varying degrees (from little-to-none, to intense).

sex assigned at birth–  a phrase used to intentionally recognize a person’s assigned sex (not gender identity).

sexual attraction –a capacity that evokes the want to engage in physical intimate behavior (e.g., kissing, touching, intercourse), experienced in varying degrees (from little-to-none, to intense). 

sexual orientation – the type of sexual, romantic, emotional/spiritual attraction one has the capacity to feel for some others, generally labeled based on the gender relationship between the person and the people they are attracted to. 

sex reassignment surgery – used by some medical professionals to refer to a group of surgical options that alter a person’s biological sex. “Gender confirmation surgery” is considered by many to be a more affirming term. 

straight – a person primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to people who are not their same sex/gender. A more colloquial term for the word heterosexual.

top surgery – this term refers to surgery for the construction of a male-type chest or breast augmentation for a female-type chest.

transgender – A person who lives as a member of a gender other than that assigned at birth based on anatomical sex.

transition / transitioning – noun, verb this term is primarily used to refer to the process a trans person undergoes when changing their bodily appearance either to be more congruent with the gender/sex they feel themselves to be and/or to be in harmony with their preferred gender expression.

transphobia – the fear of, discrimination against, or hatred of trans* people, the trans* community, or gender ambiguity. Transphobia can be seen within the queer community, as well as in general society. 

transsexual/transvestite – a person who identifies psychologically as a gender/sex other than the one to which they were assigned at birth, however, these are both terms considered derogatory in present language. The preferred terminology is trans, trans person, transgender

two-spirit – is an umbrella term traditionally used by Native American people to recognize individuals who possess qualities or fulfill roles of both genders.

ze / zir / “zee”, “zerr” or “zeer”/ – alternate pronouns that are gender neutral and preferred by some trans people. They replace “he” and “she” and “his” and “hers” respectively. Alternatively some people who are not comfortable/do not embrace he/she use the plural pronoun “they/their” as a gender neutral singular pronoun.

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