Glossary of Terms

Here at My Kid Is Gay, we use the below terms and definitions by default, but if our authors prefer a different term, they may substitute alternatives. We use the acronym “LGBTQIA” unless the topic being discussed focuses on just a few of these identity categories, in which case we amend the acronym accordingly.

Many of the words you will find below are terms for complicated concepts, and this list is by no means exhaustive. Words, especially labels, are self-defined. Two people with very similar sexual orientations or gender identities may identify with two different words. We have defined these words to explain their meaning on a basic level, but if you are curious about additional vocabulary or are still confused, more resources are available.

 

ally:
An individual who does not identify as LGBTQ but supports the LGBTQ community, or works with and for the LGBTQ community to advocate social and political issues.

androgynous:
A term for an individual who doesn’t appear to be distinctly “masculine” or “feminine.” Androgyny can be physical, expressional, or both.

asexual:
Those identifying as asexual are not sexually attracted to anyone. Asexual people often experience romantic attraction and may choose to engage in romantic relationships.

binding:
Binding involves using an elastic binder, bandages, or tape to bind one’s breasts tighter to the chest. This is often done by trans* individuals to help them pass as male.

biphobia:
Fear, ignorance, intolerance, and other negative attitudes and actions directed toward bisexual and pansexual individuals. Biphobia can also be experienced, intentionally or not, within the LGBTQ community.

bisexual:
Having the potential to be attracted – romantically and/or sexually – to people of more than one sex and/or gender. (See also pansexual)

cisgender:
A gender identity in which one’s assigned sex at birth correlates with how one identifies socially, emotionally, and physically (e.g., someone who was assigned male at birth who identifies as a man is a cisgender man).

closeted:
The status of an LGBTQ-identified person who has not told others that they are LGBTQ. One can be closeted to everyone, to most people, or to only a specific group of people (e.g., closeted to one’s family but out to their friends).

coming out:
The process of an LGBTQ person voluntarily telling other people that they identify as LGBTQ. This is different from “being outed,” in which someone else reveals your identity without your consent.

cross-dressing:
Expressing one’s gender differently from that of one’s assigned sex with clothing, makeup, hair styling, binding, etc. The term cross-dressing is usually used by cisgender people, as transgender people do not feel they are “cross” dressing but rather dressing to reflect the gender with which they identify. Because of this, cross-dressing is a term that can be interpreted as derogatory or ignorant when used to describe transgender people.

drag king:
A woman who dresses to appear as a man, often for an act or performance. A drag king might express their gender as masculine in their everyday life but does not necessarily identify as trans*.

drag queen:
A man who dresses to appear as a woman, often for an act or performance. A drag queen might express their gender as feminine in everyday life but does not necessarily identify as trans*.

FTM (F2M):
A female-to-male transgender or transsexual per- son. One does not need to have undergone surgery to identify as FTM. FTM is synonymous with the term transman.

gay:
A word used to describe a person whose sexual and/or romantic orientation is toward those of the same gender.

gender:
While gender is generally assigned at birth, along with sex, it also houses a much broader range of issues related to physical appearance, expression through clothing, activities, and behaviors.

gender expression:
The way in which one dresses and/or acts in society that is often catego- rized on the masculine/feminine spectrum. Gender expression is connected to gender identity, but one’s gender identity cannot be assumed from one’s gender expression (i.e., a person may dress in a more “masculine” or androgynous manner, but identify as female).

genderfluid:
A gender identity in which one views one’s gender as fluid and constantly changing.

gender identity:
An individual’s self-identification along the gender spectrums. Gender identity can include one’s sex (man, woman, intersex), one’s identification of their sex (transman, transwoman), one’s location on the masculine/feminine spectrum, and one’s attitude toward gender (genderqueer, gender fluid, etc.).

gender-neutral pronouns: 
Various pronouns that are used by gender nonconforming people to avoid the gender binary of only “he/his” and “she/her”.

genderqueer:
An umbrella identity describing someone whose gender expression and/or identity does not exactly align with the gender assigned to them at birth.

GSA (or QSA):
A middle school, high school, or college club that stands for Gay-Straight Alliance or Queer-Straight Alliance. GSAs range in activities and purposes, but generally provide a space for support, advocacy, and social interaction.

heterosexism:
Attitudes, bias, and discrimination that favors heterosexuals. This can include making the assumption that others are heterosexual, or that being heterosexual is the “norm,” or is superior to other sexual identities.

heterosexual:
A person whose sexual and/or romantic orientation is toward those of the “opposite” gender.

homosexual:
A person whose sexual and/or romantic orientation is toward those of the “same” gender.

homophobia:
Fear, ignorance, intolerance, and other negative attitudes and actions directed toward LGBTQ individuals (also see biphobia and transphobia). Homophobia ranges in intensity, from subtle exclusion to bullying to hate crimes.

intersex:
A word used to describe people who are born with both male and female sex markers (genitalia, hormones, chromosomes). There are at least sixteen ways to be intersex. Many intersex infants are surgically or hormon- ally treated by doctors to align all sex markers with either the male or female sex, sometimes causing later developmental problems. The term has replaced hermaphro- dite, which is considered offensive.

lesbian:
A gay woman. Some identify with the word, while others identify more strongly with other labels, such as gay or queer.

LGBTQ:
An acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning. This acronym has many varia- tions and additional letters that are often added to represent inter- sex, allies, and other identities.

MTF (M2F):
A male-to-female transgender or transsexual person. One does not need to have undergone surgery to identify as MTF. MTF is synonymous with the term transwoman.

pansexual:
Someone who is attracted to people regardless of gender. (See also bisexual.)

pass:
A term most often used among the trans* community to describe when an individual is viewed (“passes”) as the gender with which they identify, rather than as the gender they were assigned at birth.

physical transition:
The process by which a trans* person transforms their body to reflect their gender identity. This can include hormone injections, top surgery, and bottom surgery.

PFLAG:
Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Founded in 1972, PFLAG is a non- profit based in the United States that serves as an ally advocacy organization, as well as a support network for families and friends of LGBTQ people.

pride:
A term used often in the LGBTQ community to refer to people’s celebration around being LGBTQ. Many communities hold Pride events to highlight LGBTQ accomplishments, and to show a unity and happiness surrounding all sexual and gender identities.

queer:
An umbrella term often used to refer to anyone who is not heterosexual and/or cisgender. Some people, especially those of older generations, still find the term offensive, while others find it empowering. Queer is also used in academia in a broader sense as a means of discussing behaviors, trends, and identities that fall outside of societal expectations or norms.

sex:
One’s categorization as male, female, or intersex at birth based on sex markers such as genitalia, hormones, and chromosomes.

sex-reassignment surgery: 
Also known as a sex-change operation in popular culture, it is an operation that physically changes one’s genitals through plastic surgery. Sex-reassignment sur- gery is the preferred term for this operation by many in the trans* community.

sexuality:
A term sometimes used interchangeably with sexual orientation. In reality, sexuality
is a word that also includes other attributes, including one’s sexual orientation, biological sex, gender identity and sexual practices.

sexually transmitted infections (STIs):
Infections that have a significant probability of being transmitted between individuals by means of sexual behavior, including vaginal inter- course, oral sex, and anal sex. The term has come to replace STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) because infection is considered a less stigmatizing term since many STIs can be treated.

sexual orientation:
A term used to describe one’s sexual, affectional, emotional and/or romantic attraction. Words used to describe one’s sexual orientation include homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, gay, straight, and queer, among others.

social transition:
The process for a trans* person of shifting from one gender to another with- out surgery or hormones. This can include coming out and/or changing one’s hairstyle, clothing, pronouns, name, activities, etc.

straight:
A word used to describe a person whose sexual and/or romantic orientation is toward those of the “opposite” gender. A more commonly used word than heterosexual.

trans*:
Trans* with an asterisk is sometimes used to indicate a broad umbrella category including transgender, genderqueer, non-binary, genderfluid, intersex, third gender, trans men, trans women, and agender people. The Parents Project uses “trans and non-binary communities” to refer to this umbrella category, and “trans” when referring specifically to trans men and trans women.

transgender:
A person whose gender identity does not match the gender they were assigned at birth.

transition:
The process a trans* person undergoes to shift from their assigned sex at birth to the gender that is aligned with their gender identity. One’s transition can include both a social and physical transition.