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LGBTQ+ Terms and Definitions
These LGBTQ+ terms and definitions can help you build a foundation for being an affirming ally at NWACC and beyond.
Terms & Definitions
AFAB - An acronym for "Assigned Female at Birth."
Ally - A term used to describe someone who, not only acknowledges and appreciates differences in people and groups, but is also a safe and open person to talk to, and someone who is willing to stand up for the rights and wellbeing of others. An ally actively advocates for and supports the community.
AMAB - An acronym for "Assigned Male at Birth."
Asexual (ace) - An identity describing someone who experiences little to no sexual attraction. A person's romantic attraction may be different and not defined by their sexual attraction, and vice versa.
Bisexual - An identity used to describe someone who is sexually attracted to two or more genders.
Cisgender - A term for someone whose gender identity aligns with the sex and/or gender that they were assigned at birth.
Crossdresser - A term used to describe an individual, regardless of sexual orientation, who chooses to dress in the "opposite" gender clothing.
Drag - A theatrical performance adopting gendered clothing and behaviors (usually not associated with one's own identity) for entertainment and expression. Drag does not indicate the performer's sexual orientation or gender identity.
Gender - The state of being man, woman or other gender identity; A social constrict meant to classify people based on concepts of masculinity and femininity.
Gender Expression - External manifestation of one's gender identity, usually expressed through clothing, haircut, voice or body characteristics.
Gender Identity - One's internal sense of being a man, woman, neither of these, both or other gender(s).
Heterosexual - A term used to describe someone who is attracted to those on the "opposite" side of the sex and gender binary. The term was originally created in the 1800's to be used in opposition to the term "homosexual," and to maintain the dominant status of straight people.
Homosexual - A term used to describe someone who is attracted to those on the same side of the sex and gender binary. The term's pathological connotation makes many LGBTQ+ people hesitant to identify with it.
Intersex - A general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn't seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.
Non-Binary - A gender identity that lies outside the socially constructed man/woman gender binary, including those who are neither man nor woman, or a combination of both.
Pansexual - An identity describing someone who is capable of being sexually attracted to any/all genders.
Polyamorous - An identity describing someone who desires relationships with more than one other person. Polyamorous relationships are not cheating; they require trust, open communication, and honesty.
Queer - (1) An umbrella term sometimes used by LGBTQ+ people to refer to the entire LGBTQ+ community. (2) A term that some people use to push back against the idea of labels and categories. (3) An in-group term that can be empowering for some but offensive to others.
Sex - A biological term dividing a specifies into male or female, usually on the basis of chromosomes (XX = female, XY - male). Hormone levels, secondary sex characteristics, and internal and external genitalia may also be considered criteria.
Sexual Orientation - A person's physical, romantic, emotional, aesthetic and/or other form of attraction to others.
Transgender - An umbrella term for those individuals whose gender identity does not match with that assigned for their physical sex. Importantly, this term does not tell us anything about someone's sexual orientation.
Transition - The process of changing one's sex or gender, socially (through outward gender expression, pronouns) or medically (hormones/surgery).
Transsexual - A term used to describe a person who identifies psychologically as a gender/sex other than the one to which they were assigned at birth. This individual may use hormones and/or surgery to help their physical body match their inner sense of gender/sex.
Undocuqueer - A term linking one's status as undocumented with their queer identity to show that not only are they intersectional, but inseparable.
Credit: Many of these terms and definitions have been adapted or adopted from The ABC's of LGBT+ by Ashley Mardell.
Pronouns are short words that English speakers use in lieu of continually using someone's name. The most common pronouns are he/him/his and she/her/hers when you are talking about one person (Sam took his dog for a walk. He has a corgi.) and they/them/theirs when talking either about one person or a group of people (Sam and Demi went to the store. They bought snacks for the center.).
In our society, we automatically assume pronouns, which are based on our guess of someone's gender identity. Rather than a guess, it is better to either ask or use the person's name instead of assuming their correct pronouns. One way to learn another person's pronouns is when you introduce yourself, you can include your pronouns for the other person.
For example, I am Demi and I use she/her/hers pronouns. Below are the most common pronouns that people use. If you encounter a pronoun that you are unfamiliar with, we recommend searching the internet for more information.
The pronoun sequence, he/him/his/himself, is most commonly attributed to those who identity as men. However, we cannot guess an individual's gender identity by knowing their chosen pronoun, even if society assumes those who use this sequence identify as men. Some examples of this pronoun in use are:
- He went to the store to buy milk.
- Please give the piece of cake to him.
- This piece of cake is his.
- His favorite kind of cake is funfetti.
- He thinks highly of himself.
The pronoun sequence, she/her/hers/herself, is most commonly attributed to those who identify as women. However, we cannot guess an individual's gender identity by knowing their chosen pronoun, even if society assumes those who use this sequence identify as women. Some examples of this pronoun in use are:
- She went to the store to buy milk.
- Please give the piece of cake to her.
- This piece of cake is hers.
- Her favorite kind of cake is funfetti.
- She thinks highly of herself.
The pronoun sequence, they/them/theirs/themself (themselves), is most commonly attributed to those in a group. However, we also can use they/them/theirs/themself as a singular pronoun, meant to be more encompassing of gender. Some examples of this pronoun in its singular use are:
- They went to the store to buy milk.
- Please give the piece of cake to them.
- This piece of cake is theirs.
- Their favorite kind of cake is funfetti.
- They thinks highly of themself.
The pronoun sequence, ze(zie)/hir/hirs/hirself, is a common gender inclusive pronoun. However, we cannot guess or assume an individual's gender identity by knowing their chosen pronoun. Some examples of this pronoun in its singular use are:
- Ze went to the store to buy milk. (Ze is pronounced like the letter 'z')
- Please give the piece of cake to hir. (Hir is pronounced like 'here')
- This piece of cake is hirs.(Hirs is pronounced like 'heres')
- Hir favorite kind of cake is funfetti.
- Ze thinks highly of hirself. (Hirself is pronounced like 'here-self')