GLBTIQ Definitions and Key Terms

In this module, you will find definitions and key terms pertinent to the GLBTIQ community. The list is not all inclusive, but a modest representation of some of the terminology used in describing aspects of the GLBTIQ community. For more comprehensive sources, please consult the web and books about the topic.

LGBTIQ: (or GLBTIQ) refers to the acronym used to signify Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, Intersex, and Queer people collectively.

Bisexual: A person emotionally, romantically, sexually and relationally attracted to both men and women, though not necessarily simultaneously; a bisexual person may not be equally attracted to both sexes, and the degree of attraction may vary as sexual identity develops over time.

Cisgender: An identity where an individual’s experience of their own gender matches the sex they were assigned at birth.

Coming Out (of the closet): Being "closeted" refers to not disclosing one's sexual orientation. "Coming out" is the process of first recognizing and acknowledging a non-heterosexual orientation and then disclosing it to others. This usually occurs in stages and is a non-linear process. An individual may be "out" in some situations or to certain family members or associates and not others. Some may never "come out" to anyone beside themselves.

Gay: A word describing a man who is emotionally, romantically, sexually and relationally attracted to members of the same sex.

Gender Expression: External manifestation of one's gender identity, usually expressed through masculine, feminine or gender-variant behavior, clothing, haircut, voice or body characteristics. Typically, transgender people seek to make their gender expression match their gender identity, rather than their birth-assigned sex.

Gender Identity: One's personal sense of their gender. For transgender people, their birth-assigned sex and their own sense of gender identity do not match.

Heterosexual Privilege: The basic civil rights and social privileges that a heterosexual individual automatically receives, but are systematically denied to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons on the sole basis of their gender identity.

Heterosexism: Describes a system of attitudes, biases and behaviors in favor of heterosexual relationships. It includes the assumption that everyone is heterosexual and that heterosexual relationships are the norm and therefore superior.

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

Lesbian: A woman who is emotionally, romantically, sexually and relationally attracted to other women.

Outing: Exposing someone's sexual orientation as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender to others, without their permission; in essence "outing" them from the closet. Outing someone can have serious employment/economic/safety/religious repercussions in some situations.

Pansexual: Characterized by the potential for aesthetic attraction, romantic love, or sexual desire for people, regardless of their gender identity or biological sex.

Queer: Often used interchangeably with "LGBTIQ." Be mindful that the term may have negative or derogatory connotations for some people; however, many younger people are comfortable using it.

Sexual Orientation: An inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic, sexual and relational attraction to another person; may be a same-sex orientation, opposite-sex orientation or a bisexual orientation.

Transgender: A term describing a broad range of people who experience and/or express their gender differently from what most people expect. It is an umbrella term that includes people who are transsexual, cross-dressers or otherwise gender non-conforming.

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