Glossary of LGBT terminology–You might not know all of these!

I found this helpful and up-to-date glossary in a Tumblr blog (reprinted with permission)

“So the recent “big news” on the social media front this past weekend centered around Facebook. Recognizing that not all individuals identify as heterosexual, there are now options for their users when setting up their Profile. Options, you ask? How can there be options? Male. Female. What more can there be?

Well, a lot actually.

Apparently, Facebook offers about 50 options. Well, I read that somewhere anyway. So, curious, I checked it out. Wow – there ARE a lot of options! (However I didn’t count them…sorry.)

It did get me thinking…are people familiar with the terminology that many individuals use to identify themselves? Maybe not. Would you like to know? Good! That’s what I like to hear – people who are interested in learning new information to help them become educated, open-minded, people of society.

We have heard the term “LGBT” in the media, but I’m not so sure people know what each of the letters stand for. I believe people know it is a term related to the gay community, but that’s about it. Sometimes you may hear it referred to GLBT, too – it’s all the same. When I studied for my LGBT certification (yes, that exists), it was always referred to as LGBT, so I will continue to do so in my writings.

“L” – Lesbian
“G” – Gay
“B” – Bisexual
“T” – Transgender

Sometimes you may see it written as such:
(These are a little less mainstream, but it’s good to be familiar with these, so you appear really

“Q”- Queer
“Q”- Questioning
“A” – Ally (that’s me!)
“A” – Asexual
“I” – Intersex
“P” – Pansexual

Okay. So, what do these terms mean?

Lesbian: A woman who is attracted romantically and/or physically to other women.
Gay: A person of one sex who is attracted romantically and/or physically to a person of the same sex. Generally the term is used when referring to men who are attracted to men, however this term can be used to include both males and females who are attracted to same-sex individuals..

Bisexual: A person of one sex who is attracted romantically/physically to a person of the same sex OR of another sex.

Transgender: This one can get tricky. A lot of people understandably confuse this with transsexual. Easy to do. Transgender refers to an individual who expresses themselves as the opposite sex from which they were born. This can include cross-dressers, transsexuals, and others.
The term transsexual falls under the umbrella term transgender.
Transsexual is defined as an individual who was born with the outward appearance of one sex, yet inside they feel like the opposite sex (gender identity). The body doesn’t match the psyche. Sometimes these individuals will choose to undergo surgery and/or hormone therapy to change their outward appearance to match how they feel inside. Others may not, but may dress as the person of the opposite sex to express their gender identity. Or they may not do anything. It’s a personal choice.
Often the word transgender is used when transsexual would be more appropriate. However, the term transsexual isn’t used as much as it used to be. It is best to ask the individual how they would like to be referred. I know a MTF (male-to-female) individual who uses the term transgender, which I totally get. Keep in mind, these terms refer only to gender identity (do they feel male or female) NOT their sexual orientation. It has nothing to do with who they are attracted to.

Queer: Used by those in the LGBT community to describe themselves as being unique. Can sometimes be interpreted in a derogatory manner, so be considerate when using this term.

Questioning: Refers to a person who is exploring their sexual identity, orientation, or gender identity.

Ally: Someone who supports the LGBT community.

Asexual: Not sexually attracted to any sex.

Intersex: More of a medical thing. A person is born with ambiguous male and female anatomy – external as well as internal. Sometimes it is obvious at birth, other times it isn’t noticed until puberty, and sometimes a person never knows! There are several medical conditions associated with being intersex, including Turner Syndrome and Klinefelter Syndrome. This has nothing to do with sexual orientation.

Pansexual: Attracted romantically/physically to a person regardless of their orientation, gender, identity, or anatomy. It’s all about the person on the inside.

Phew! That’s a lot to take in. Don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz on this tomorrow. It’s just sort of nice to have a general idea of what people are talking about. And yes, it is confusing. Especially the transgender/transsexual language.

So, getting back to Facebook. I think it’s pretty cool that they are offering identity alternatives for those who do not identify themselves as either “male” or “female”. It’s all biology! Hormones, genetics, in utero growth….there are lots of reasons people are born they way we are. If you want more information, there are some great resources. I should know, I used these as my resources, too. (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) (Intersex Society of North America) (Gay Straight Alliance Network) (Parents, Families, Friends of Lesbians and Gays)
Between XX and XY: Intersexuality and the Myth of Two Sexes by Gerald N. Callahan, Ph.D.
(I loved this book!)”

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