LGBTI-SafeZone Terminology

Terms and Definitions

Bisexual — One whose sexual or romantic attractions and behaviors are directed at members of both sexes to a significant degree.

Cisgender - One who exclusively identifies as their sex assigned at birth. The term cisgender is not indicative of gender expression, sexual orientation, hormonal makeup, physical anatomy, or how one is perceived in daily life.

Gay — An attraction and/or behavior focused exclusively or mainly on members of the same sex or gender identity; a personal or social identity based on one’s same-sex attractions and membership in a sexual minority community.

Gender Expression – Denotes the cultural meanings of patterns of behavior,e experience, and personality that are labeled masculine or feminine. Gender Expression refers to how an individual presents through the use of gender cues (e.g. appearance, behavior, and mannerisms). A person’s expression may or may not be analogous to their identity.

Gender Identity – Refers to a person’s basis sense of being a man or boy, a woman or girl, or another gender (e.g. transgender, bigender, or genderqueer– a rejection of the traditional binary classification of gender.) Gender identity can be congruent or incongruent with one’s sex assigned at birth based on the appearance of the external genitalia.

Gender Nonconforming — Nonconformity with prevailing norms of gender expression.

Gender Role Conformity – Refers to the extent to which an individual’s gender expression adheres to the cultural norms prescribed for people of his or her sex.

Heterosexism — Institutionalized stigma against LGBTI populations as a disadvantaged minority, such as denial of the right to marriage in most states, negative economic effects in the workplace, and frequent disenfranchisement from religious and spiritual resources needed to ameliorate the effects of stress.

Heterosexual — Refers to individuals who identify as “heterosexual” or “straight” or whose sexual or romantic attractions and behaviors focus exclusively or mainly on members of the other sex or gender identity.

Homophobia — A term used broadly to refer to various manifestations of sexual stigma, sexual prejudice, and self-stigma based on one’s homosexual or bisexual orientation.

Intersex — A term used for people who are born with external and/or internal genitalia that vary from typical male or female genitalia, or a chromosomal pattern that varies from XX (female) or XY (male).

Lesbian — As an adjective, used to refer to female same-sex attraction and sexual behavior; as a noun, used as a sexual orientation identity label by women whose sexual attractions and behaviors are exclusively or mainly directed to other women.

Sex – A biological construct, referring to the genetic, hormonal, anatomical, and physiological characteristics on whose basis one is labeled at birth as either male or female.

Sexual & Gender Minority - A term used to denote lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and other populations whose sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and reproductive development is considered outside cultural, societal, or physiological norms.

Sexual Orientation – A term that refers to the emotional, romantic, and/or sexual desires that one person might have for another person or people. It also may refer to a person’s choice of whether or not to engage in sexual relationships and practices.

Transgender — Refers to individuals who cross or transcend culturally defined categories of gender (Bockting, 1999).

Two Spirit — Adopted in 1990 at the third annual spiritual gathering of GLBT Natives, the term derives from the northern Algonquin term niizh manitoag, meaning “two spirits,” and refers to the inclusion of both feminine and masculine components in one individual (Anguksuar, 1997).

Queer — In contemporary usage, an inclusive, unifying sociopolitical, self-affirming umbrella term for people who are gay; lesbian; bisexual; pansexual; transgender; transsexual; intersexual; genderqueer; or of any other nonheterosexual sexuality, sexual anatomy, or gender identity. Historically, a term of derision for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people.

Adapted from the Institute of Medicine’s report, The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding (2011)