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Glossary: Terms that define the diversity of LGBTQ

Asexual: A term describing individuals who do not experience sexual attraction or do not have interest in or desire for sex. Asexuality is different from celibacy, which means abstaining from sex.

Bisexual: A term that describes someone who is attracted to both men and women, or to more than one gender identity.

Cisgender: A person who identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth. For example, if you were told you were “male” at birth and still identify that way, you would be cisgender.

Gay: In the past, only men who are attracted to men have used the word “gay.” Now it is common for “gay” to be used by anyone who is attracted to their same sex or gender.

Gender: An idea created by society (also known as a social construct) that tells us what certain genders are supposed to be like, based on a group of emotional, behavioral and cultural characteristics (like how we express our feelings or how we dress).

Gender expression: How we express our gender identity on the outside.

Gender identity: Our internal, personal sense of what our gender is. Everyone has a gender identity.

Gender non-conforming: Describes a person whose gender expression is, or appears to be, different from what we would expect from their assigned gender. Other terms include “gender variant” or “gender diverse.”

Intersex: Describes a condition in which a person is born with a sex that doesn’t fit the typical definitions of female or male due to genetic, hormonal or anatomical differences.

Lesbian: A woman who is predominantly attracted to other women. Some women prefer the term “gay.”

LGBTQIA: Anyone identifying as belonging to any of the identities defined here or others on this spectrum.

Non-binary: Anything that falls outside of the male-female binary system. Intersex, genderqueer and bisexuality are all examples of non-binary identities.

Sexual orientation: Describes a person’s physical, romantic, emotional and/or spiritual attraction to another person. Everyone has a sexual orientation.

Transgender (trans): An umbrella term used to describe people whose true gender identity does not match the sex or gender they were assigned at birth. Many identities fall under the transgender umbrella, which are often designated with an asterisk after the abbreviation “trans.” However, not all genderqueer or non-binary people identify as transgender — and some people who have transitioned to their gender identity choose to identify as just a man or woman instead of transgender.

Queer: A broad term that is inclusive of people who are not straight and/or cisgender. In the past this word was used as discriminatory. Today the word is often used in a positive way by people who identify as queer as well as by allies of LGBTQ people; however, some people still feel that it is a word that carries negative weight.

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(Source: The Trevor Project: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/trvr_support_center/glossary)

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