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GBTQ Terminology

Wondering what all of those letters mean? Here is a glossary of some of the most commonly used terms. Questions? Email us!


Ally – An ally is an individual who speaks out and stands up for a person or group that is targeted and discriminated against. An ally works to end oppression by supporting and advocating for people who are stigmatized, discriminated against or treated unfairly. For the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ+) communities, an ally is any person who supports and stands up for the rights of LGBTQ+ people. Put simply, an ally is a friend, or supporter, so anyone can be an ally, whether you are LGBTQ or not!

Asexual – An asexual person is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. Unlike celibacy, which people choose, asexuality is an intrinsic part of who we are. Asexual people may still experience emotional or romantic attraction, and are equally capable of forming intimate relationships. There is considerable diversity among the asexual community; each asexual person experiences things like relationships, attraction, and arousal somewhat differently. For more information, visit

Bisexual – Bisexuality is the potential to feel physically and emotionally attracted to and to engage in sensual or sexual relationships with people of two genders (example: attracted to men and women). Pansexual people are attracted to people of all genders, or regardless of the person's gender.

Cisgender – A cisgender person is one whose gender identity matches their body and the gender they were assigned at birth, as well as the traditional roles and behaviors associated with that gender. Another way of saying "not transgender." Cis man, Cis woman

FTM (Female-to-Male) (Trans man) – A person assigned female at birth who transitions to or identifies as male. One of many transgender identities. 

Gay – 1. An adjective describing a man whose primary sexual and emotional attraction is to other men. (Usage: “My brother is a gay man,” or “I’m gay.”) 
2. An inclusive term encompassing people who are attracted to people of the same gender-- gay men, lesbians, bisexual people, etc.

Gender Identity – A person’s internal, personal sense of what gender they are, regardless of the sex they were assigned at birth. Everyone has a gender identity, and gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same. Transgender people may be heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or any other sexual orientation.

In the Closet – Not being open about one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Intersex – “Intersex” is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person's physical body doesn’t fit the typical definitions of female or male. For example, a person might be born appearing to be female on the outside, but have mostly male-typical anatomy on the inside. Or a person may be born with genitals that seem to be in-between the usual male and female types, or a mixture of both. Or a person may be born with mosaic genetics, so that some of her cells have XX chromosomes and some of them have XY. Literally, “inter”– between– the male and female sexes. For more information, check out this video.

Lesbian – A woman whose primary emotional and sexual attraction is to other women. It is important to note that some women who have sex with other women, sometimes exclusively, may not call themselves lesbians.

MTF (Male-to-Female) (Trans woman) – A person born male who transitions to or identifies as female. One of many transgender identities.

Questioning – Someone who is unsure about their sexual orientation or gender identity, or is in the process of discovering it.

Queer – This originally derogatory term used to describe gay and lesbian individuals has been reclaimed by some members of LGBTQ communities. Some LGBTQ people find the term offensive, so it should be used with caution and permission. Some people who others would identify as straight usethis term to indicate they are "not straight and cisgender." It can also be used (along with genderqueer) to describe a person’s gender identity, often by those who feel their gender does not fit either category (male and female).

Sexual Orientation – A person’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional and spiritual attraction to another person, and the resulting sexual identity in relation to the gender(s) to which they are attracted. Examples include: gay, straight, lesbian, asexual, or bisexual.

Transgender – Used as an umbrella term for anyone whose internal sense of their gender does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth. Inclusive of female-to-male (FTM or trans man) and male-to-female (MTF or trans woman) transgender people, nonbinary or genderqueer or genderfluid people, bigender or agender people, two-spirit people, androgynes, and other self-identified gender non-conforming people. For more information, check out this video.

Two-Spirit – A transgender identity that originated from various Native American cultural practices in which a person is born one gender, but ends up fulfilling roles assigned to both genders, or other roles reserved for two-spirit people, who are generally considered to be both male and female simultaneously.

Additionally, some LGBTQ people may identify with a myriad of other identities. The following are self-defined:  Same gender loving (SGL)Men who have sex with men (MSM), and Women who love women (WLW).


Still have questions? Ask us anything!

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