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LGBTQ Community at New Paltz

LGBTQ Definitions

Terminology and definitions surrounding the LGBTQ+ community vary and change over time. Terminology can also vary across cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. This page offers some definitions that are essential to dialogue surrounding the LGBTQ+ community.


Agender:  Describes someone who identifies as having no gender, as genderless or gender-free.

Ally: A person who is not necessarily LGBTQ but shows support for LGBTQ people and promotes equality in a variety of ways.

Androgynous: Identifying and/or presenting as neither distinguishably masculine nor feminine.

Aromantic: A person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others.

Asexual: The lack of a sexual attraction or desire for other people.

Biological sex: Sex refers to one’s body – the physiological and anatomical characteristics of maleness and femaleness with which a person is born or that develop with physical maturity. Biological sex markers include internal and external reproductive organs, chromosomes, hormone levels, and secondary sex characteristics such as facial hair and breasts. Can also be referred to as sex assigned at birth.

Biphobia: The fear of, discrimination against, or hatred of bisexuals by people of any sexual orientation. Biphobic stereotypes may include promiscuity or confusion towards their sexual orientation.

Bisexual An individual who is emotionally, romantically, and/or physically attracted to both men and women.

Chosen Name: Sometimes referred to as "preferred name", this is the name an individual wishes to be referred to as.  This is often different from their legal or dead name.

Cisgender: A term used to describe a person whose gender identity aligns with those typically associated with the sex assigned to them at birth.  (Someone who is not transgender)

Coming Out: The process in which a person first acknowledges, accepts and appreciates their sexual orientation or gender identity and begins to share that with others

Dead Name: A term referring to the name a trans-identified individual was given at birth, but no longer identifies with or goes by; also referred to as “birth name” by some trans-identified people.  This term can sometimes be controversial. 

Demisexual: A sexual orientation in which someone feels sexual attraction only to people with whom they have an emotional bond

FTM: Female to Male Transgender Individual

Gay: A person who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to members of the same gender.

Gender Binary: The idea that there are only two genders – male/female or man/woman and that a person must be strictly gendered as either/or. 

Gender Expression: External appearance of one's gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut or voice, and which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine.

Gender Fluid: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a person who does not identify with a single fixed gender; of or relating to a person having or expressing a fluid or unfixed gender identity.

Gender Identity:  One’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One's gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.

Gender Neutral/All Gender:  Not gendered. Can refer to language (including pronouns), spaces (like bathrooms), or identities (like being gender queer, for example).

Genderqueer: Genderqueer people typically reject notions of static categories of gender and embrace a fluidity of gender identity and often, though not always, sexual orientation. People who identify as "genderqueer" may see themselves as being both male and female, neither male nor female or as falling completely outside these categories.

Heteronormative: The assumption, in individuals or in institutions, that everyone is heterosexual and that heterosexuality is preferred. 

Heterosexism: A system of attitudes, bias, and discrimination in favor of opposite-sex sexuality and relationships. It can include the presumption that most individuals are heterosexual or that opposite-sex attractions and relationships are the only norm and therefore superior.

Homophobia: The fear and hatred of or discomfort with people who are attracted to members of the same sex.

Intersex: a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn't seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.

Intersectionality: The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

Lesbian: Term used to describe female-identified people attracted romantically, sexually, and/or emotionally to other female-identified people. 

LGBTQ+: A common abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, and plus.

Lithoromantic: A person who experiences romantic love but does not want their feelings to be reciprocated. Lithoromantic identifying individuals may or may not be comfortable with romantic relationships.

MTF: Male to female transgender individual.

Nonbinary (Also Non-Binary): An umbrella term for all genders other than female/male or woman/man, used as an adjective (e.g. Jesse is a nonbinary person). Not all nonbinary people identify as trans and not all trans people identify as nonbinary. Sometimes (and increasingly), nonbinary can be used to describe the aesthetic/presentation/expression of a cisgender or transgender person.

Pansexual: A sexual attraction, sexual desire, romantic love, or emotional attraction toward persons of all gender identities and biological sexes and refer to themselves as gender-blind, asserting that gender and sex are insignificant or irrelevant in determining whether they will be sexually attracted to others. 

Passing: Being seen as belonging unquestionably to a particular group, e.g. being seen as a woman or as a man. Often, it refers to a trans person being seen as the gender they are.

Polysexual: The attraction to multiple genders. A person who may be attracted to some gender variant people, but not have the capability or desire to be some with some others.  

Pronouns: Pronouns, sometimes referred to as gender pronouns or preferred gender pronouns (PGP), is the pronoun or set of pronouns that an individual would like others to use when talking to or about that individual.

Queer: An umbrella identity term taken by people who do not conform to heterosexual and/or gender binary norms; a reclaimed derogatory slur taken as a political term to unite people who are marginalized because of their non-conformity to dominant gender identities and/or heterosexuality. 

Questioning:  A term used to describe people who are in the process of exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sapiosexual: A person who finds intelligence to be a sexually attractive quality in others

Sexual Orientation:  Emotional, romantic, or sexual feelings toward other people. One’s sexual activity does not define who one is with regard to one’s sexual orientation; it is the attraction that helps determine orientation.

Skoliosexual: A sexual attraction to non-binary (non-cisgender) identified individuals.  This does not generally describe an attraction to specific genitalia or birth assignment, but is an inclusive term.

Stonewall: On June28, 1969, New York City police attempted a routine raid on the Stonewall Inn, a working-class LGBTQ* bar in Greenwich Village. Unexpectedly the patrons resisted, and the incident escalated into a riot that continued for several days. Most people look to this event as the beginning of the American Gay Liberation movement and al subsequent LGBTQ* movements.

Trans*: An abbreviation that is sometimes used to refer to a gender variant person. This term is sometimes used to refer to the gender variant community as a whole. 

Transactivism: The political and social movement to create equality for gender variant persons.

Transgender: A person who lives as a member of a gender other than that expected based on anatomical sex. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation

Transphobia:  The fear and hatred of, or discomfort with, transgender people

Ze/Zir, They/Them: Examples of gender neutral pronouns.  





Definitions adapted from various sources including the following:

  1. hrc.org www.glaad.org https://www.pflag.org/  http://demisexuality.org/  http://www.dictionary.com/