LGBTQ+ A to Z

Here is the Matthew Shepard Foundation’s comprehensive list of LGBTQ+ terminology. Have an edit? Email us!

Ally
A person who supports and honors sexual diversity, acts accordingly to challenge homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and heterosexism within their personal and professional life, and shows a concern for the well-being of the LGBT community.

Androgyne/androgynous
A person who appears neither clearly masculine nor clearly feminine.

Asexual
A lack of sexual attraction to others or the lack of interest in sex. It can also be considered a lack of sexual orientation. Many asexual people, however, will still seek to form an intimate bond with others and will identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or straight.

Biological Sex
A medical term designating a certain combination of gonads, chromosomes, external gender organs, and hormone balances.

Biphobia
The fear or hatred of and discrimination against bisexuals. Biphobia is different from homophobia or transphobia in that is seen within the LGBT community as well as in general society.

Bisexual
A person who has significant romantic, emotional, physical and sexual attractions to both males and females or someone who identifies as a member of this community. The frequency, intensity, or quality of attraction may not be directed toward genders equally, one may be favored over another.

Cisgender
A person whose gender identity aligns with the biological sex they were assigned at birth; i.e, a female bodied person who identities as a woman

Coming Out
A term that refers to the process through which a person discovers and accepts their sexuality or gender identity as different than previously assumed. The process often involves the disclosure of this information with others especially friends and family. Coming out is not a single event but rather a life-long process.

Cross-dresser
Someone who dresses in clothing that is traditionally or stereotypically worn by a different gender, but who generally has no interest in living full-time as a different gender.

Demisexual
A person who does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone.

Dyke
Historically a derogatory term referring to a lesbian, especially a masculine one. Recently it has been reclaimed as a term of pride by many within the lesbian community. Because of the original derogatory nature it has not necessarily been accepted by all.

Fag(got)
Historically a derogatory term for gay men. It has been reclaimed by some as a term of pride, but not all.

FTM/F2M
A term to indicate a female-to-male transgender individual, meaning someone who was assigned female at birth, but identifies and lives as male. Also known as a “transgender man” or “transman.”

Gay
A male-identified person who has significant romantic, emotional, physical and sexual attractions to other male-identified people or someone who identifies as a member of this community. Not all men who engage in homosexual behavior identify as gay. Sometimes, “gay” is used to refer to all all people, regardless of gender, whose primary sexual and or romantic attractions are to members of the same sex.

Gender
Traditionally defined as a person’s biological sex. Gender is more appropriately defined as a the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits traditionally assigned to each gender.

Gender Binary
The belief that there are only two genders, men and women, and that a person’s gender identity must be one of the two rather than somewhere within the gender spectrum.

Gender Expression
The manner in which a person represents or expresses their gender identity to others, often through behavior, clothing, hairstyles, voice and/or body characteristics. Gender expression is not necessary an indication of sexual orientation.

Gender Identity
Refers to how one thinks of one’s own gender, whether it is masculine, feminine, or other-gendered. It is important to note gender identity, biological sex, and sexual orientation are not necessary linked.

Gender Non-conforming
A term used for individuals whose gender expression does not follow society’s ideas or stereotypes based on the female or male sex they were assigned at birth.

Genderqueer
A gender variant person whose gender identity is neither entirely female or male, between or beyond genders, or some combination of genders. These people usually reject the gender binary in favor of a more fluid, nontraditional identity.

Heteronormativity
The assumption, in individuals and/or institutions, that everyone is heterosexual, and that heterosexuality is superior to all other sexual orientations.

Heterosexism
The societal norms and behaviors that result from the assumption that all people are heterosexual. This system of oppression, which assumes that heterosexuality is inherently normal and superior, negates LBGT peoples’ lives and relationships

Heterosexual
A person who has significant romantic, emotional, physical and sexual attractions to members of the other sex or someone who identifies as a member of this community.

Homophobia
Thoughts, feeling, or actions based on fear, dislike, judgement, or hatred of people based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation. Internalized homophobia is the fear of same-sex attractions within oneself and can lead to repression, self-loathing, and depression. Institutionalized homophobia is the occurrence of homophobic laws, policies, and positions taken by social and governmental institutions. Homophobia often leads to intolerance, bigotry, and violence towards anyone not acting within heterosexual norms.

Homosexual
A person who has significant romantic, emotional, physical and sexual attractions to members of the same sex or someone who identifies as a member of this community.

Intersexed
A person whose biological sex differs from one of the two expected patterns. This can be the result of a chromosomal combination other than XX or XY, or primary or secondary sex characteristics that defy medical definitions of male and female.

LGBT
A common acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Variations include: GLBT, and the possible addition of letters and symbols including “Q” for queer or questioning, “A” for ally, “?” for questioning, and “I” for intersexed.

Lesbian
A female-identified person who has significant romantic, emotional, physical and sexual attractions to other female-identified people or someone who identifies as a member of this community.

MTF/M2F
A term to indicate a male-to-female transgender individual, meaning someone who was assigned male at birth, but identifies and lives as female. Also known as a “transgender woman” or “transwoman.”

Outing
The involuntary disclosure of one’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or intersex status. There is debate within the LGBTQ community regarding the appropriateness of outing high-profile individuals.

Pangendered
A person whose gender identity is comprised of all or mixed genders.

Pansexual
A person who has significant romantic, emotional, physical and sexual attractions to people regardless of their biological sex or gender identity.

Queer
An umbrella term for those within the sexual minority community. Historically queer has been used as a derogatory term but has recently been reclaimed as a term of pride. Because of the original derogatory nature it has not necessarily been accepted by all as a term of pride.

Same Gender Loving
A term often used by members of the Black/African-American community to express same-sex attraction without relying on terms and symbols of European descent.

Sex Realignment Surgery
A group of surgical options that help bring a person’s biological sex in line with their gender identity. Also known as “sex reassignment surgery,” this group may include “top surgery” (the creation of a male contoured chest or breast augmentation) or “bottom surgery” (altering the genitals). “Sex change” is considered a derogatory term.

Sexual Orientation
A person’s emotional, physical, and sexual attraction and the expression of that attraction with another individual.

Transgender
An umbrella term for people whose gender identity does not match their sex as assigned at birth or deviate from the gender binary. This includes, but is not limited to, transsexuals, cross- dressers, androgynous people, genderqueers, and gender non-conforming people. “Transgender” is a unique term in that one must identify as transgender before it can be used by others to describe them.

Transition
The process a gender variant 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.

Transmasculine
Often used as an umbrella term for people assigned female at birth who identify as masculine of center- — that is, they identify more closely with maleness than femaleness, and generally desire a physical appearance that reflects this identification, but do not identify as wholly male or as a man. This term often includes transmen, but the adoption of the term as an identity is a matter of personal preference.

Transphobia
Thoughts, feeling, or actions based on fear, dislike, judgement, or hatred of people based on their actual or perceived gender identity. Like biphobia, transphobia can exist amongst the LBGT community.

Transsexual
A person whose gender identity is not in line with their sex as assigned at birth. Often transsexual people alter or wish to alter their bodies through hormones or surgery in order to make it match their gender identity.

Transman
An identity label sometimes adopted by female-to-male transsexuals to signify that they are men while still affirming their history as females.

Transwoman
An identity label sometimes adopted by male-to-female transsexuals to signify that they are women while still affirming their history as males.

Two-Spirit
An umbrella term used by Indigenous North Americans who have mixed gender attributes. They usually fulfill distinct gender and social roles in their tribes, and are often involved in mystical rituals. Their dress is usually mixture of male and female articles and they are seen as a separate or third gender. The term ‘two-spirit’ is usually considered to specific to the Zuni tribe. Similar identity labels vary by tribe.

Ze/Hir
The most common gender neutral pronouns and are preferred by some gender variant persons. Pronounced /zee/ and /here/, they replace “he”/”she” and “his”/”hers” respectively.