Glossary of Terms
Fear of bisexuals, often based on inaccurate stereotypes.
An individual who is physically, romantically, emotionally, and/or spiritually attracted to men and women. Bisexuals need not have had equal sexual experience with both men and women; in fact, they need not have had any sexual experience at all to identify as bisexual.
Legal recognition of committed same-sex relationships in California, Connecticut, DC, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
Describes a person who is not open about his or her sexual orientation.
A lifelong process of self-acceptance. People forge a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender identity first to themselves and then may reveal it to others. Publicly identifying one’s sexual orientation may or may not be part of coming out.
Civil or legal recognition of a relationship between two people (domestic partners) that sometimes extends limited protections to them
The adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attractions are to people of the same sex (e.g., gay man, gay people). In contemporary contexts, lesbian (n.) is often a preferred term for women. Avoid identifying gay people as “homosexuals”.
How a person behaves, appears or presents himself or herself with regard to societal expectations of gender.
The gender role that a person claims for himself or herself; may or may not align with his or her physical gender.
Acronyms for “gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender.” LGBT and/or GLBT are often used because they are more inclusive of the diversity of the community.
A person whose enduring physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction is to people of the opposite sex. Also “straight.”
The attitude that heterosexuality is the only valid sexual orientation. Often takes the form of ignoring lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals. For example: a feature on numerous Valentine's Day couples that omit same-sex couples.
Outdated clinical term considered derogatory and offensive by many gay people. Gay and/or lesbian accurately describe people who are attracted to members of the same sex.
Fear of lesbians and gay men. “Prejudice” is usually a more accurate description of hatred or antipathy toward GLBT people.
Describing a person whose biological sex is ambiguous. Many genetic, hormonal, or anatomical variations can make a person's sex ambiguous (i.e., Klinefelter Syndrome, Adrenal Hyperplasia).
A woman whose enduring physical, romantic, emotional and/or spiritual attraction is to other women. Avoid identifying lesbians as “homosexuals,” a derogatory term.
LGBT / GLBT
Acronyms for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.” LGBT and/or GLBT are often used because they are more inclusive of the diversity of the community.
Inaccurate term often used by anti-gay extremists to denigrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender lives. Avoid using. As there is no one heterosexual or straight lifestyle, there is no one lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender lifestyle.
Describes people who self-identify as lesbian or gay in their public and/or professional lives. Also openly lesbian, openly bisexual, and openly transgender.
The act of publicly declaring (sometimes based on rumor and/or speculation) or revealing another person's sexual orientation without his or her consent. Considered inappropriate by a large portion of the GLBT community.
Traditionally a pejorative term, queer has been appropriated by some GLBT people to describe themselves. Some value the term for its defiance and because it can be inclusive of the entire GLBT community. Nevertheless, it is not universally accepted even within the GLBT community and should be avoided unless quoting someone who self-identifies that way.
The scientifically accurate term for an individual’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction to members of the same and/or opposite sex, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual orientations. Avoid the offensive term “sexual preference,” which is used to suggest that being gay or lesbian is a choice and therefore “curable.”
A person who supports and honors sexual diversity, acts accordingly to challenge homophobic remarks and behaviors, and explores and understands these forms of bias within him- or herself.
Historically used to selectively persecute gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals, the state laws often referred to as “sodomy laws” were ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas (2003). “Sodomy” should never be used to describe gay, lesbian, or bisexual relationships, sex or sexuality.
A term describing a broad range of people who experience and/or express their gender differently from what people expect. It is an umbrella term that includes people who are transsexual, cross-dressers or otherwise gender non-conforming.
A medical term describing a person who—with or without medical treatment—identifies and lives his or her life as a member of the gender that is not the one he or she was assigned at birth. Female-to-male (FTM) transsexuals are born female and transition to a male gender identity. Male-to-female (MTF) transsexuals are born male and transition to a female gender identity.
GLMA Healthcare Equality Index, 2007
GLAAD Media Reference Guide, 7th Edition
• Offensive Terminology to Avoid: http://www.glaad.org/media/guide/offensive.php
• Problematic Terminology: http://www.glaad.org/media/guide/problematic.php