Queer Glossary

2SLGBTQIA+ community members use a variety of terms to identify themselves, not all of which are included in this glossary. This glossary was compiled to help share words and meanings in order to make conversations surrounding gender, sexuality, and queerness easier and more comfortable to navigate.


In its verb form, ally means to unite or form a connection between. In the gender community, allies are all those wonderful folks who have attempted to educate themselves about gender issues, who work to reduce transphobia in themselves, families, and communities, and who try their best to support trans people in the political, social and cultural arenas.


People who identify as having no gender or as gender neutral. The term Agender can be literally translated to ‘without gender’. Agender folks may have any type of expression and use any set of pronouns or no pronouns.

Ambiguous genitalia

Many intersex activists contest the use of this phrase to describe their bodies because the ambiguity is with the society’s definition of male and female rather than their bodies.


Someone who does not experience romantic attraction or does so in a significantly different way than is traditionally thought of


Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction to others, or low or absent interest in or desire for sexual activity. It may be considered a sexual orientation, or lack thereof.

Assigned Sex of Gender

The sex/gender one is considered to be at birth based on a cursory examination of external genitalia.


Bear is an affectionate gay slang term for those in the bear communities, a subculture in the gay community and an emerging subset of the LGBT community with its own events, codes, and culture specific identity. Bears tend to have hairy bodies and facial hair; some are heavy-set; some project an image of working-class masculinity in their grooming and appearance, though none of these are requirements or unique indicators.


An individual who feels that they have both a “male” and “female” side to their personalities.


The fear, hatred, or intolerance of bisexual men and women.


A person who is attracted to people regardless of gender (a person does not have to have a relationship to be bisexual!)

Closeted or In the Closet

Hiding one’s sexual orientation.

Coming Out

Differential treatment that favors one individual or group over another based on prejudice.

The process by which lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals recognize, acknowledge, accept, and typically appreciate their sexual identities.


An individual who dresses in clothing that is culturally associated with members of the “other” sex. Most cross-dressers are heterosexual and conduct their cross-dressing on a part-time basis. Cross-dressers cross-dress for a variety of reasons, including pleasure, a relief from stress and a desire to express “opposite” sex feelings to the larger society. Cross-dressing might also be termed gender non-conforming behavior.


Differential treatment that favors one individual or group over another based on prejudice.


Wearing clothes considered appropriate for someone of another gender. Originally used in Shakespeare’s Globe Theater to mean Dressed As Girl (or Dress Resembling A Girl) referring to male actors who played female roles.


FTM is an acronym which stands for Female To Male. This term reflects the direction of gender transition. Some prefer the term “MTM” (male-to-male) to underscore the fact that though they were biologically female, they never had a female gender identity.


A complicated set of socio-cultural practices whereby human bodies are transformed into “men” and “women.” Gender refers to that which a society deems “masculine” or “feminine.” Gender identity refers an individual’s self-identification as a man, woman, transgendered or other identity category. Many times have been written on gender, and there are countless definitions. But most contemporary definitions stress how gender is socially and culturally produced and constructed, as opposed to being a fixed, static, coherent essence.


People who have gender expression/expressions or identities that are not constant or fixed.


Genderqueer is an umbrella term for gender identities that are not solely male or female‍—‌identities that are outside the gender binary.

A term which refers to individuals or groups who “queer” or problematize the hegemonic notions of sex, gender and desire in a given society. Genderqueers possess identities, which fall outside of the widely accepted sexual binary. Genderqueer may also refer to people who identify as both transgendered AND queer, i.e. individuals who challenge both gender and sexuality regimes and see gender identity and sexual orientation as overlapping and interconnected.

Gender Dysphoria

A term of the psychiatric establishment which refers to a radical incongruence between an individual’s birth sex and their gender identity. A “gender dysphoric” feels an irrevocable disconnect between their physical bodies and their mental sense of gender. Many in the trans community find this term offensive or insulting as it often pathologizes the transgendered individuals due to its association with the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM)

Gender Euphoria

A term coined by trans community members to refer to the happiness and joy of openly and proudly living in your preferred gender role, an antidote to the pathologizing and bleak connotations of “gender dysphoria.”

Gender expression

How one chooses to express one’s gender identity.

Gender Identity

Refers to an individual’s innate sense of self as a man, woman, transgender or other gender category. Gender identity may change over time and may not accord to dichotomous gender categories.

Gender Phobia

Hatred and fear of differing gender identities and expressions

Gender Role

The clothing, characteristics, traits and behaviors of an individual which are culturally associated with masculinity and/or femininity.


The societal/cultural, institutional, and individual beliefs and practices that privilege heterosexuals and subordinate and denigrate LGB people. The critical element that differentiates heterosexism (or any other “ism”) from prejudice and discrimination is the use of institutional power and authority to support prejudices and enforce discriminatory behaviors in systematic ways with farreaching outcomes and effects.


The fear, hatred, or intolerance of people who identify or are perceived as lesbians or gay men, including the fear of being seen as lesbian or gay yourself. Homophobic behavior can range from telling jokes about lesbians and gay men, to verbal abuse, to acts of physical violence.


Formally termed hermaphrodites, Intersex people are born with the condition of having physical sex markers (genitals, hormones, gonads or chromosomes) that are neither clearly male nor female.


Also known as “black and blue with love,” the leather pride flag is not associated with any particular sexual orientation (though it’s used most commonly by gay men) but instead indicates an interest in kink. The “leather subculture” is somewhat hard to define as it encompasses a wide variety of activities. In general, they all involve two things: leather and sex, although in modern times it’s also used for BDSM (which doesn’t necessarily include leather).


A female-identified person who is attracted to other female-identified people.


Non-binary, also known as genderqueer, is a spectrum of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine- identities that are outside the gender binary. Non-binary people may identify as having two or more genders, having no gender, moving between genders, being third gender or other-gendered, or having a fluctuating gender identity.


Pansexuality is the sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction towards people regardless of their sex or gender identity.


Polysexuality is sexual attraction to multiple, but not all, genders.


Queer is a term which has been reclaimed by members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities to refer to people who transgress culturally imposed norms of heterosexuality and gender traditionalism. Queer might be broadly defined as resistance to regimes of the “normal.” Although still often an abusive epithet when used by bigoted heterosexuals, many queer-identified people have taken back the word to use it as a symbol of pride and affirmation of difference and diversity.


The societal/cultural, institutional, and individual beliefs and practices that privilege white people and subordinate and denigrate people of color.

Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS)

The term given to an operation and procedure which physically transforms the genitals using plastic surgery, often called a “sex change operation” in popular culture.


An imprecise word which is often use in tandem with other social categories, as in: race, gender and sexuality. Sexuality is a broad term which refers to a cluster of behaviors, practices and identities in the social world.

Sexual Orientation

This term refers to the gender(s) which a person is emotionally, physically, romantically and erotically attracted to. Examples of sexual orientation include homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual and asexual. Trans and gender-variant people may identify with any sexual orientation and their sexual orientation may or may not change before, during or after gender transition.


A range of behaviors, expressions and identifications which challenge the pervasive bipolar gender system in a given culture. This, like trans, is an umbrella term which includes a vast array of differing identity categories such as transsexual, drag queen, drag king, cross-dresser, transgenderist, bi-gendered and a myriad of other identities.


The irrational fear and hatred of all those individuals who transgress, violate or blur the dominant gender categories in a given society. Transphobic attitudes lead to massive discrimination, violence and oppression against the trans, drag, and intersex communities.


An individual who strongly dis-identifies with their birth sex and wishes to utilize hormones and sex reassignment surgery (or gender confirmation surgery) as a way to align their physical body with their internal gender identity.


An umbrella term to identify queer Indigenous individuals with traditional and cultural understandings of gender roles and identity.