A NOTE ABOUT TERMINOLOGY

The language we use to discuss identity is constantly changing. We have provided general terms for sex assigned at birth, sexual orientation, gender identity and other key terms. New terms are always appearing and the usage of existing terms is evolving. The best approach is to ask youth themselves which terms they prefer and what those terms mean to them.

SEX ASSIGNED AT BIRTH

The designation of male, female, or intersex that a person is given at birth, often based upon the appearance of their genitalia.

MALE

A person born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that aligns to typical definitions of male or in terms of physiological sex characteristics such as variations of genetics, reproductive structures, or hormones.

FEMALE

A person born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that aligns to typical definitions of female or in terms of physiological sex characteristics such as variations of genetics, reproductive structures, or hormones.

INTERSEX

A person born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not conform exclusively to typical definitions of male or female in terms of physiological sex characteristics such as variations of genetics, reproductive structures, or hormones.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION

One’s emotional and sexual attraction to others. Sexual orientation includes gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight, pansexual, asexual, etc.
May also be referred to as sexual identity.

ASEXUAL

A person who does not experience sexual attraction.

BISEXUAL

A person who experiences romantic, emotional, and/or sexual attraction to people of two or more genders.

GAY

1. A person who experiences romantic, emotional, and/or sexual attraction to people of the same gender as themselves.

2. An umbrella term to denote something or someone as LGBTQ. This use of the word has become less common as the term queer has taken on the same meaning.

LESBIAN

A woman who experiences emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction to other women.

PANSEXUAL

A person who experiences emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction to people regardless of their gender.

QUEER

An umbrella term for the LGBTQ+ community.

STRAIGHT/HETEROSEXUAL

A person who is romantically, emotionally, and/or sexually attracted to people of a gender other than their own.

GENDER IDENTITY

A person’s internal sense of who they are in regard to gender, regardless of their sex assigned at birth.

CISGENDER

A person whose gender identity and/or expression is aligned with their sex assigned at birth.

TRANSGENDER

An adjective describing a person whose gender identity is not aligned with their sex assigned at birth.

NON-BINARY

Does not identify within the gender-binary of being exclusively male or female.

QUEER

An umbrella term for the LGBTQ+ community.

HIJRA

A term for culturally specific third gender or intersex identities in South Asia.

TWO SPIRIT

An umbrella word for any of the culturally specific third gender or gender non-binary identities that exist in different indigenous North American tribes.

OTHER KEY TERMS

COMING OUT

The process of disclosing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity to others. Coming out is not a discrete event but a lifelong process.

OUTING

The unauthorized disclosure by one person of another’s gender identity or sexual orientation.

MISGENDERING

The act of referring to someone as a gender with which they do not identify. Misgendering can include using the wrong pronouns, honorifics, name, etc. It can also include making other gender-related comments.

DEADNAMING

Intentionally or unintentionally using the birth or other former name of a transgender or non-binary person without their consent.

LGBTQ+

An umbrella term that stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer” people. The Q can also stand for questioning. LGBTQIA is another common version of this acronym, one that includes letters for intersex and asexuality.

SAFE SPACE

A physical space or group that has been intentionally designated as an environment where people of marginalized identities can feel safe from discrimination and bias.

GENDER

A social construct based on a group of emotional, behavioral, and cultural characteristics attached to a person’s sex assigned at birth. Gender has several components, including gender identity, gender expression, and gender role.

GENDER EXPRESSION

An individual’s physical characteristics, behaviors, and presentation that intentionally or unintentionally serve as social markers of masculinity, femininity, or androgyny. Forms of gender expression include appearance, dress, mannerisms, speech patterns, and social interactions.

PERSONAL PRONOUNS

Pronouns that refer to an individual in the third person. In English, such pronouns are gendered, so it is important to ask what someone’s pronouns are rather than misgender them by incorrectly assuming their pronouns. Examples include: she/her/hers, he/him/his, and they/them/theirs.

GENDER NEUTRAL PRONOUNS

Pronouns often used by people who do not identify solely with one of the two binary genders. Gender neutral pronouns like the singular “they” can also be used when the gender identity of a person is unknown (“someone dropped their money”). An example of a gender neutral pronoun includes they/them/theirs.