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There is a lot of unique words representing the LGBTQ+ community. Using the right language is important because it validates LGBTQ+ experiences. 

Try to make a conscious effort to learn and use the right language to support LGBTQ+ individuals. Once you start to understand these terms, it will become easier to know how and when to use them.  

Below are definitions of the common language used when discussing LGBTQ+ topics.  



Someone who does not identify with any gender, or intentionally doesn’t follow an expression of gender. 


Being an ally is when you side with or support a cause. For example, if you are an LGBTQ+ ally you might support same-sex marriage. Allies support equal rights, advocate on behalf of others and challenges discrimination.  


An aromantic person is someone who does not experience romantic attraction. 


Someone is asexual when they have very little or no feelings of sexual attraction toward someone.  However, they might have romantic feelings but feel less inclined to act these out physically. Asexuality is a sexual orientation. 


Autigender or autism-gender is the recognition that for some autistic people, their gender is so heavily influenced by their autism that they cannot be unlinked. 


Someone is bisexual when they are attracted to someone of the same gender and those of a different gender. Bisexuality is a sexual orientation. 


Biphobia is the dislike or prejudice against people who are bisexual. For example, the belief that bisexual people are greedy or undecided about their sexual orientation. 


Celibacy is choosing to refrain from sexual contact. For example, some people choose to remain celibate until they are married.  


Cis-gender is somebody whose gender identity (how you identify) is the same as the sex they were assigned to at birth, male or female.  

Coming out

Coming out refers to the old-fashioned phrase “coming out of the closet”. It is a metaphor for when someone self-discloses their sexual orientation or gender identity.  It is a process through which a person accepts themselves, for many this involves sharing their identity with others, which often makes it a lifetime process rather than just a one-time experience. 


Deadnaming happens when someone uses the birthname or another former name of a transgender or non-binary person, without their consent. For example, if female-assigned-at-birth Florence transitioned to become a male and changed his name to Benjamin, if people would still call him Florence this would be deadnaming. 


The act of performing a gender or presenting as a different gender usually for the purpose of entertainment (eg. Ru Paul’s drag race). Those who do drag may not wish to present as a different gender all of the time. 


Someone is gay when they are attracted to the same sex. Being gay is a sexual orientation.  

Gender normative 

Gender normative is when someone's gender complies with traditional gender expectations. For example, assuming that girls like pink and boys like blue. 

Gender dysphoria  

Someone experiences gender dysphoria when they feel, emotionally and psychologically, different from their sex assigned at birth.  

Gender expression 

External expressions of gender, expressed thorough a person’s pronouns, name, clothing, haircut, voice or body characteristics. 

Gender fluid 

Someone for whom gender expression is a spectrum and fluctuates within that spectrum. 

Gender identity 

The gender you feel most accurately represents you. Girl, boy, both or neither. Everyone has a gender identity. 

Heterosexual/ Straight 

Someone who is attracted, emotionally and physically, to people of the opposite sex. Heterosexual is a sexual orientation. 


Someone who is attracted to people of the same sex. Homosexual is a sexual orientation. 


Homophobia is the dislike or prejudice against people who are gay/homosexual. 


Intersex is an umbrella term for people who are born with body parts that are different from what is traditionally considered female or male. This occurs in about 2% of babies born, similar to the percentage of redheads. For example, a baby may be born with XX chromosomes (female) but where the ovaries traditionally are, they have testicles. This person would be covered by the intersex umbrella term.  


A woman who is attracted to people who are also female. Being a lesbian is a sexual orientation. 


Lesbophobia is the dislike of or prejudice against women who are lesbians.  


This traditional acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. 


This acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual or agender and pansexual.  


Someone is non-binary when their gender identity sits outside gender definitions, they are neither male or female. Non-binary is a gender identity.  


Pride celebrations take place across the world the celebrate the rich and diverse LGBTQ community, with a focus on being proud about their sexual identity and sexual orientation. Pride month in the UK is February. 


The words used to describe something or someone. For example, someone may prefer to use the pronouns he/she/her or they/them. Someone's pronouns do not have to match your view of their gender. For example, you might assume someone is a ‘he’, but they prefer to use the pronoun ‘they’. It is important and respectful to use someone’s chosen pronouns.  


Someone is pansexual when they are attracted to people regardless of their biological sex, gender or gender identity. Pansexual is a sexual orientation. 


The classification of a person as male or female. At birth, children are assigned a sex based on the appearance of their external anatomy.  

Transgender or trans

Trans is short for transgender. Being trans is when someone's gender identity is not the same as the sex they are assigned at birth. 


Transphobia is the dislike of or prejudice against someone who is trans gender. For example, the belief that transgender people are weird or just confused. 

Trans man 

Someone is a trans man if they were a female and now identify as a male. 

Trans woman 

Someone is a trans woman if they were a male and now identify as a female.  


Transitioning is the process of someone changing their gender presentation to match their gender identity. For example, if Florence is transitioning to a male, Florence might change his name to Benjamin, start wearing his hair short and wearing more traditionally male clothes.  


Queer used in a negative way can cause a lot of offense. More recently, the LGBTQ+ community have been reclaiming the word and are using it positively. In a very basic sense, it is anyone who is not heterosexual and/or cisgender, 


Someone is questioning if they are in the process of determining or defining their sexual orientation or gender identity. Most people in the LGBTQ+ community go through a questioning phase before they feel confident in acknowledging, accepting and being proud of who they are. 


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