LGBT+ Glossary

AN a-z of LGBT+ words and terminology

On this page you will find lots of words and terms related to LGBT+ people, LGBT+ life and LGBT+ culture. Some words you may recognise or identify with, and others you may not. This page is here to help you learn and understand the words that many LGBT+ people use. If you have any suggestions for other words and terminology we could include in this glossary, feel free to contact us.


  • Ally – a (typically) straight and/or cis person who supports members of the LGBT+ community.


  • Androgynous – term used to describe an individual whose gender expression and/or identity may be neither distinctly ‘female’ nor ‘male’, usually based on appearance.


  • Asexual – someone who does not experience sexual attraction.


  • Biphobia – the fear or dislike of someone who identifies as bisexual.


  • Bisexual/Bi – refers to an emotional and/or sexual orientation towards more than one gender.


  • Cisgender/Cis – someone whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth. Non-trans is also used by some people.


  • Coming out – when a person first tells someone/others about their identity as lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans.


  • Deadnaming – is calling someone by their birth name after they have changed their name. This term is often associated with trans people who have changed their name as part of their transition. Deadnaming a trans person can be extremely traumatic for the person and incredibly damaging.


  • Drag King – a woman who outrageously dresses up in men’s clothes and imitates a man in an exaggerated manner.


  • Drag Queen – a man who outrageously dresses up in women's clothes and imitates a woman in an exaggerated manner.


  • FTM – an abbreviation of female to male. See ‘Transgender Man’.


  • Gay – refers to a man who has an emotional, romantic and/or sexual orientation towards men. Also a generic term for lesbian and gay sexuality - some women define themselves as gay rather than lesbian.


  • Gender – often expressed in terms of masculinity and femininity, gender is largely culturally determined and is assumed from the sex assigned at birth.


  • Gender Dysphoria – used to describe when a person experiences discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between their sex assigned at birth and their gender identity. This is also the clinical diagnosis for someone who doesn’t feel comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth.


  • Gender Expression – how a person chooses to outwardly express their gender, within the context of societal expectations of gender. A person who does not confirm to societal expectations of gender may not, however, identify as trans.


  • Genderfluid – relating to a person who does not identify themselves as having a fixed gender. A genderfluid person may feel a mix of both genders, but may also feel more male on some days and more female on other days. A genderfluid person may also feel they identify with two or more genders, or that they have no gender.


  • Gender Identity - a person’s innate sense of their own gender, whether male, female or something else (see Non-Binary), which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned at birth.


  • Genderqueer – a person who does not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions but identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.


  • Gender Reassignment – another way of describing a person’s transition. To undergo gender reassignment usually means to undergo some sort of medical intervention, but it can also mean changing names, pronouns, dressing differently and living in their self-identified gender. Gender reassignment is a characteristic that is protected by the Equality Act 2010.


  • Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) – this enables trans people to be legally recognised in their affirmed gender and to be issued with a new birth certificate. Not all trans people will apply for a GRC and you currently have to be over 18 to apply. You do not need a GRC to change your gender markers at work or to legally change your gender on other documents such as your passport.


  • Gender Identity Clinic/GIC – a service which provides specialist medical care for trans people.


  • Heterosexual/Straight – refers to a person who has an emotional, romantic and/or sexual orientation towards people of the opposite gender.


  • Homophobia – the fear or dislike of someone, based on prejudice or negative attitudes, beliefs or views about lesbian, gay or bisexual people. Homophobic bullying may be targeted at people who are, or who are perceived to be, lesbian, gay or bisexual.


  • Homosexual – this might be considered a more medical term used to describe someone who has an emotional romantic and/or sexual orientation towards someone of the same gender. The term ‘gay’ is now more generally used.


  • Intersex – a term used to describe a person who may have the biological attributes of both sexes or whose biological attributes do not fit with societal assumptions about what constitutes male or female. Intersex people may identify as male, female or non-binary.


  • Lesbian – refers to a woman who has an emotional, romantic and/or sexual orientation towards women.


  • LGBT+ – an acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The ‘+’ covers all of the other diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.


  • Misgender – to presume someone else’s gender identity/ to presume incorrectly.


  • MTF – an abbreviation of male to female. See ‘Transgender Woman’.


  • Non-Binary – an umbrella term for a person who does not identify as only male or only female, or who may identify as both.


  • Oestrogen – the female sex hormone often prescribed to trans women who wish to undergo medical transition.


  • Outed – when a lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is disclosed to someone else without their consent.


  • Pansexual – refers to a person whose emotional, romantic and/or sexual attraction towards others is not limited by biological sex, gender or gender identity.


  • Pronoun – words we use to refer to people’s gender in conversation - for example, ‘he’ or ‘she’. Some people may prefer others to refer to them in gender neutral language and use pronouns such as ‘they’ and ‘their’.


  • Queer – in the past a derogatory term for LGBT+ people. The term has now been reclaimed by LGBT+ young people in particular, who don’t identify with traditional categories around gender identity and sexual orientation. Queer is still viewed to be derogatory by some LGBT+ people.


  • Questioning – the process of exploring your own sexual orientation and/or gender identity.


  • Sex – assigned to a person on the basis of primary sex characteristics (genitalia) and reproductive functions. Sometimes the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are interchanged to mean ‘male’ or ‘female’.


  • Sexual orientation – a person’s emotional, romantic and/or sexual attraction to another person.


  • Testosterone – the male sex hormone often prescribed to trans men who wish to undergo medical transition.


  • Top surgery – a term that trans people may use when referring to surgeries designed to produce a male or female shaped chest.


  • Trans – an umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth. Trans people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including, but not limited to: Transgender, Transsexual, Genderqueer, Genderfluid, Non-Binary, Gender Variant, Crossdresser, Genderless, Agender, Nongender, Third Gender, Two Spirit, Bigender, Transman, Transwoman, Trans Masculine, Trans Feminine and Neutrois.


  • Transgender – a term used to describe someone who is assigned a gender at birth but identifies and lives as another gender.


  • Transgender Man – a term used to describe someone who is assigned female at birth but identifies and lives as a man. This may be shortened to Transman, or FTM, an abbreviation for female to male.


  • Transgender Woman – a term used to describe someone who is assigned male at birth but identifies and lives as a woman. This may be shortened to Transwoman, or MTF, an abbreviation for male to female.


  • Transitioning – the steps a trans person may take to live in the gender with which they identify. Each person’s transition will involve different things. For some this involves medical intervention, such as hormone therapy and surgeries, but not all trans people want or are able to have this. Transitioning also might involve things such as telling friends and family, dressing differently and changing official documents.


  • Transphobia – the fear or dislike of someone based on the fact they are trans, including the denial/refusal to accept their gender identity.


  • Transsexual – this was used in the past as a more medical term, similarly to homosexual, to refer to someone who transitioned to live in the ‘opposite’ gender to the one assigned at birth. This term is still used by some, although many people prefer the term trans or transgender.


  • Transvestite/Cross Dresser – a person, typically a man, who derives pleasure from dressing in clothes primarily associated with the opposite sex. This is not the same as being transgender.

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