Glossary of Terms from the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity


Asexual: Someone who does not experience sexual attraction. Asexual people have emotional needs and experience attraction. Asexuality is considered an identity, and is not the same as celibacy, which is a choice.

Gay: An identity used to represent males who are attracted to males in a romantic, sexual, and/or emotional sense. Also a term used to refer to people who are attracted to members of the same sex (e.g. women attracted to women).

Genderqueer: individuals whose gender identity and/or role does not conform to a binary understanding of gender as limited to the categories of masculine/feminine.

Heterosexual: a person who feels primarily attracted – emotionally, physically, and/or sexually – to members of the opposite sex.

Homosexual: a person who feels primarily attracted – emotionally, physically, and/or sexually – to members of the same sex. Many people reject the term homosexual because of its history as a term denoting mental illness and abnormality.

Intersex: Individuals with medically established physical and/or hormonal attributes of both the male and female sex. Estimated that 1 in 1500/2000 people are intersex.

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

Pansexual: Someone who is emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted tp people of any gender identity or gender expression.

Queer: An umbrella term that embraces many non-normative or non-heterosexual sexual orientations, and also non-gender binary gender identities. A reclaimed word that was formerly used as a slur, but has been reclaimed by people who identify as LGBTQI, as a way to define themselves and not by society or by a single term. Still considered offensive and harmful by many people.

Questioning: Someone who is exploring their identity.

Sex: a term designating a certain combination of biological determinants which include chromosomes, gonads, hormones, internal organs, external appearance of sex organs, and secondary sex characteristics.

Sexual Identity: a person’s internal sense of their physical sex. May include femaleness, maleness, in between, neither or beyond. This identity is not always congruent with one’s assigned sex at birth.

Sexual Orientation: an identity which includes aspects of sexual attraction, sexual behavior, fantasy, emotional bonding and self-identification.

Straight: an additional term for heterosexual.

Transgender: a diverse group of individuals who cross or transcend culturally defined categories of gender. The gender identity of transgender people differs to varying degrees from the sex they were assigned at birth.

Transsexual: individuals who live their lives as the sex not assigned at birth. Often seek to change or who have changed their primary and/or secondary sex characteristics through feminizing or masculinizing medical interventions (hormones and/or surgery), typically accompanied by a permanent change in gender role. Believe they are not the sex they were assigned at birth.

Two-Spirit: a Native American/American Indian person who has attributes of both genders but is seen as a separate or third gender.