A Comprehensive List of LGBTQ Terms and Definitions Every Ally Should Know
The LGBTQ community is vast and expansive in the world, and like any other group, we have developed language and words that define who we are and the unique set of challenges we face as a community. In order to be a good ally, being aware of these definitions can help you navigate Queer spaces in a way that is affirming and respectful. This is a great list to get you started!
LGBTQ: This is the acronym used to describe the community as a whole, which includes “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer”. You may see LGBTQIA+ which includes intersex people and asexual/agender folks.
Lesbian: An identity label sometimes claimed by woman/female-identified people who form their primary romantic and sexual relationships with other woman/female-identified people.
Gay: An identity label sometimes claimed by man/male-identified people who form their primary romantic and sexual relationships with other man/male-identified people.
Bisexual: An identity label sometimes claimed by people who are sexually attracted to two (or ore) sexes or genders, not necessarily equally or simultaneously.
Queer: A reclaimed slur, Queer is an identity term for those who do not conform to the norms of heterosexuality and/or the gender binary.
Pansexual: People who experience sexual attraction across all spectrums of gender identity, biological sex, and sexual orientation.
Sex, Gender, Gender Identity Terms
Sex: The biological differences between male and female.
Gender: Gender is the societal constructs that we assign to male and female. When people talk about “gender stereotypes” they are referring to the ways we expect men/boys and women/girls to act/behave.
Gender identity: One’s definition of self as male, female, both or neither. A person's gender identity may not align with their sex assigned at birth.
Gender role: The social behaviors that culture assigns to each sex. Examples: Girls play with dolls, boys play with trucks; women are nurturing, men are stoic.
Gender expression: How we express our gender identity. It can refer to our hair, the clothes we wear, the way we speak. It's all the ways we do and don't conform to the socially defined behaviors of masculine or feminine.
Transgender: A person whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.
Cisgender: A person whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth.
Binary: The concept of dividing sex or gender into two clear categories. Sex is male or female, gender is masculine or feminine.
Non-binary: Someone who doesn't identify exclusively as female/male.
Genderqueer: People who reject conventional categories of gender and embrace fluid ideas of gender (and often sexual orientation). They are people whose gender identity can be both male and female, neither male nor female, or a combination of male and female.
Agender: Someone who doesn't identify as any particular gender.
Gender-expansive: An umbrella term used to refer to people, often times youth, who don't identify with traditional gender roles.
Gender fluid: Not identifying with a single, fixed gender. A person whose gender identity may shift.
Gender non-conforming: People who don't conform to traditional expectations of their gender.
Drag kings & drag queens: People, some who are straight and cisgender, who perform either masculinity or femininity as a form of art. It's not about gender identity.
Pronouns + More
Gender Pronouns: pronoun is a word that refers to either the people talking (I or you) or someone or something that is being talked about (like she, it, them, and this). Gender pronouns (he/she/they/ze etc.) specifically refer to people that you are talking about.
Examples of gender pronouns can be: he/him/his, she/her/hers, they/them/theirs.
Mx: an prefix (e.g. Mr., Ms., Mrs., etc.) that is gender neutral. It is often the option of choice for folks who do not identify within the gender binary: Mx. Smith is a great teacher.
What are some ways to be an Ally and/or Advocate for the LGBTQ+ Community?
Being an ally to the LGBTQ community requires much more than just learning and knowing definitions. Ally’s need to be willing to show up every day ready to support the LGBTQ community. For instance: familiarize yourself with pronouns. You can’t always know what someone’s pronouns are by looking at them. Adding them to your email signature is a great way to show someone in the LGBTQ community that you are aware of pronouns and are not asking others to assume yours, and that you won’t assume the same for them. It’s even a good idea to share your pronouns and ask people theirs during introductions.
One of the best ways to be an ally year round (and one that is close to our hearts) is to support and shop from LGBTQ owned businesses! This is something you can all year to ensure that LGBTQ owned businesses stay alive and thriving.
The Dash of Pride Family is so grateful for your support and look forward to being a part of many LGBTQ+ life celebrations.
Jamie Thrower (Pronouns: she/her)
Jamie is owner of Studio XIII Photography in Portland, OR.
She is an extremely talented artist and storyteller with a
deep commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.