Terminology

This is meant to be a quick guide to 2SLGBTQ2IA+ language and terminology and does not pretend to include each and every term, or even every definition for some of these words. From the staff who created this document, please note that this dictionary is intended to be a quick reference guide that we acknowledge is not complete, nor will it ever be. Feedback is always welcomed. If you are reading this dictionary and see something
missing, or an incomplete definition please email us for an update: @connect@simplygoodform.com

  1. BB4I: 2SLGBTQ+ 101
  2. LGBTQ2+ Resources and Guidelines to inclusive language and terminology
    1. Sexual Orientation
    2. Gender Identity
    3. Derogatory and transphobic terms to avoid
    4. Other I.D.E.A Terms
    5. Resource links
Sexual OrientationAn inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people. Note: an individual’s sexual orientation is independent of their gender identity.  Source HRC.org

The scientifically accurate term for an person’s enduring physical, romantic and/ or emotional attraction to another person. Sexual orientations can include heterosexual (straight), lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, asexual, and other orientations. Avoid the offensive term “sexual preference,” which is used to inaccurately suggest that being gay, lesbian, or bisexual is voluntary and “curable.” People need not have had specific sexual experiences to know their own sexual orientation; in fact, they need not have had any sexual experience at all.
Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same. Transgender people have sexual orientations too, and they may be straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, etc. For example, a transgender woman who is attracted exclusively to women would typically describe herself a lesbian; if she were exclusively attracted to men, she would likely describe herself a straight woman. A transgender person who is attracted to more than one gender will likely identify as bisexual or pansexual. Source: Glaad.org
Lesbian (L)
A woman whose enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction is to other women. Some lesbians may prefer to identify as gay (adj.) or as gay women. Avoid identifying lesbians as “homosexuals.” Lesbian can be used as a noun or adjective. Ask people how they describe themselves before labeling their sexual orientation.
Gay (G)
An adjective used to describe a person whose enduring physical, romantic, and/ or emotional attractions are to people of the same sex (e.g., gay man, gay people). Sometimes lesbian (n. or adj.) is the preferred term for women. Avoid identifying gay people as “homosexuals” an outdated term considered derogatory and offensive to many lesbian and gay people. Ask people how they describe themselves before labeling their sexual orientations.
Bisexual, Bi, (B)
An adjective used to describe a person who has the potential to be physically, romantically, and/or emotionally attracted to people of more than one gender, not necessarily at the same time, in the same way, or to the same degree. The bi in bisexual refers to genders the same as and different from one’s own gender. Do not write or imply that bi means being attracted to men and women. That is not an accurate definition of the word. Do not use a hyphen in the word bisexual.

People may experience this attraction in differing ways and degrees over their lifetime. Bisexual people need not have had specific sexual experiences to be bisexual; in fact, they need not have had any sexual experience at all to call themselves bisexual. Some people use the words bisexual and bi to describe the community. Others may use bi+ which is intended to be inclusive of those who call themselves bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer and other words which describe people who have the potential to be attracted to more than one gender. Similar to questioning, people might say they are bicurious if they are exploring whether or not they are attracted to people of the same gender as well as people of other genders.
Queer
An adjective used by some people, particularly younger people, whose sexual orientation is not exclusively heterosexual (e.g. queer person, queer woman). Typically, for those who identify as queer, the terms lesbian, gay, and bisexual are perceived to be too limiting and/or fraught with cultural connotations they feel do not apply to them. Once considered a pejorative term, queer has been reclaimed by some LGBTQ people to describe themselves. However, it is not a universally accepted term even within the LGBTQ community, so use caution when using it outside of describing the way someone self-identifies or in a direct quote. When Q is seen at the end of LGBT, it typically means queer. In a setting for support, particularly for youth, it may mean questioning. Ask people how they describe themselves before labeling their sexual orientation.
CisgenderAn adjective used to describe people who are not transgender. “Cis-” is a Latin prefix meaning “on the same side as,” and is therefore an antonym of “trans-.” A cisgender person is a person whose gender identity is aligned with the sex they were assigned at birth. Currently, cisgender is a word not widely understood by most people, however, it is commonly used by younger people and transgender people. If you use cisgender in a news article, it is important to define what it means first, or you can simply say non-transgender people. Cisgender can be shortened to cis. We recommend only using the shorthand after you have used and defined the word cisgender for your audience. Note: Cisgender does not have a hyphen, nor does it need an “-ed” at the end.
Source: Glaad.org
Cisnormative Bias‘Cis-normative bias’ is the biased assumption that everyone around us is cisgender and their gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth.
Gender IdentityOne’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One’s gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth. Source HRC.org

A person’s inner most sense of self; as a man, as a woman, or somewhere in between this gender spectrum, or lying outside gender lines altogether.
Watch the lesson video all about Gender identity, Gender expression and Sexual orientation in BB4I: Beyond Binary Inclusion.
Glaad.org defines gender identity as: ‘A person’s internal, deeply held knowledge of their own gender. Everyone has a gender identity. For most people their gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth.
For transgender people, their gender identity does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth. Many people have a gender identity of man or woman (or, for children, boy or girl). For other people, their gender identity does not fit neatly into one of those two binary genders.”
You cannot look at someone and “see” their gender identity.
Gender ExpressionExternal appearance of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, body characteristics or voice, and which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine. Source HRC.org

External manifestations of gender, expressed through a person’s name, pronouns, clothing, haircut, voice, and/or behavior. Societies classify these external cues as masculine and feminine, although what is considered masculine or feminine changes over time and varies by culture. (For example, in some cultures men wear long hair as a sign of masculinity.) Most transgender people seek to align their gender expression with their gender identity to resolve the incongruence between their knowledge of their own gender and how the world “sees” them. Source: Glaad.org
Detailed examples provided in BB4I: Beyond Binary Inclusion
Gender FluidA person whose gender identity moves between various genders at different times (as
determined by the individual themself). (Phoenix House)
Gender CreativeGender Creative: A person (typically a child) who does not conform to gender stereotypes and who finds
creative ways to interweave qualities associated with various genders into their behaviour and self-presentation. (Phoenix House)
Gender DysphoriaClinically significant distress caused when a person’s assigned birth gender is not the same as the one with which they identify. Source: HRC.org
Gender Non-conformingSource: Glaad.org
A term used to describe people whose gender expression differs from conventional expectations of masculinity and femininity. Please note that many cisgender people have gender expressions that are gender non-conforming. Simply having a non-conforming gender expression does not make someone trans or nonbinary. Nor are all transgender people gender non-conforming. Many transgender people have gender expressions that are conventionally masculine or feminine. Do not describe someone as gender non-conforming simply because they happen to be a transgender person. (May also be abbreviated as GNC.)
Gender QueerA person who does not subscribe to the gender binary or gender norms. (Phoenix House)
Gender TransitionThe process by which some people strive to more closely align their internal knowledge of gender with its outward appearance. Some people socially transition, whereby they might begin dressing, using names and pronouns and/or be socially recognized as another gender. Others undergo physical transitions in which they modify their bodies through medical interventions.Source: HRC.org
IndigiqueerA modern identity meant to encapsulate the intersectional facets of experience for those who are
both Indigenous and a part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, particularly for individuals who reject the implied gender binary of “2-Spirit.” (Phoenix House)
IntersexIntersex is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. For example, a person might be born appearing to be female on the outside, but having mostly male-typical anatomy on the inside. Or a person may be born with genitals that seem to be in-between the usual male and female types—for example, a girl may be born with a noticeably large clitoris, or lacking a vaginal opening, or a boy may be born with a notably small penis, or with a scrotum that is divided so that it has formed more like labia. Or a person may be born with mosaic genetics, so that some of her cells have XX chromosomes and some of them have XY.
Though we speak of intersex as an inborn condition, intersex anatomy doesn’t always show up at birth. Sometimes a person isn’t found to have intersex anatomy until she or he reaches the age of puberty, or finds himself an infertile adult, or dies of old age and is autopsied. Some people live and die with intersex anatomy without anyone (including themselves) ever knowing….Continue
Queer (Q)
An adjective used by some people, particularly younger people, whose sexual orientation is not exclusively heterosexual (e.g. queer person, queer woman). Typically, for those who identify as queer, the terms lesbian, gay, and bisexual are perceived to be too limiting and/or fraught with cultural connotations they feel do not apply to them. Once considered a pejorative term, queer has been reclaimed by some LGBTQ people to describe themselves. However, it is not a universally accepted term even within the LGBTQ community, so use caution when using it outside of describing the way someone self-identifies or in a direct quote. When Q is seen at the end of LGBT, it typically means queer. In a setting for support, particularly for youth, it may mean questioning. Ask people how they describe themselves before labeling their sexual orientation.
Non-binaryNonbinary is an adjective used by people who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as falling outside the binary gender categories of “man” and “woman.” Many nonbinary people also call themselves transgender and consider themselves part of the transgender community. Others do not. Nonbinary is an umbrella term that encompasses many different ways to understand one’s gender. Some nonbinary people may also use words like agender, bigender, demigender, pangender, etc. to describe the specific way in which they are nonbinary. Always ask people what words they use to describe themselves. Non-binary is sometimes shortened to enby. Do not use NB, as that is often shorthand for non-Black. Non-binary may also be written as non-binary. Both forms are commonly used within the community and both are acceptable.
Sex at BirthFor more details, watch the video below with Isaac.
Infants are assigned a sex at birth, “male” or “female,” based on the appearance of their external anatomy, and an M or an F is written on the birth certificate.
This is what mean by ‘binary’ or  ‘one or the other’.
However, the development of the human body is a complex process, and sex is not solely determined by anatomy, nor is it strictly binary.
‘As many as 1.7% of people are born with an intersex trait.’ Source: Egale.org
A person’s body can be changed through medical transition in ways that fundamentally alter the sex they were assigned at birth.
Transgender, Trans, (T)An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc. Source HRC.org

An adjective to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. People who are transgender may also use other terms, in addition to transgender, to describe their gender more specifically. Some of those terms are defined below. Use the term(s) the person uses to describe their gender. It is important to note that being transgender is not dependent upon physical appearance or medical procedures. A person can call themself transgender the moment they realize that their gender identity is different than the sex they were assigned at birth. Source Glaad.org

Trans
Used as shorthand for transgender, and on second reference after first using the word transgender. If you use trans without defining it, or without the first reference of transgender, mainstream audiences may not understand its meaning or what you are referencing.
Transgender Man
A man who was assigned female at birth may use this term to describe himself. He may shorten it to trans man. (Note: trans man, not “transman.”) Some may prefer to simply be called men, without any modifier. Use the term the person uses to describe their gender.
Transgender Woman
A woman who was assigned male at birth may use this term to describe herself. She may shorten it to trans woman. (Note: trans woman, not “transwoman.”) Some may prefer to simply be called women, without any modifier. Use the term the person uses to describe their gender.
Source: Glaad.org
“born a man,” “born a woman,” “biologically male,” “biologically female,” “biological boy,” “biological girl,”Source: Glaad.org
“born a man,” “born a woman,” “biologically male,” “biologically female,” “biological boy,” “biological girl,” “genetically male,” “genetically female”
Phrases like those above oversimplify a complex subject and are often used by anti-transgender activists to inaccurately imply that a trans person is not who they say they are. “Biological boy” is a term anti-trans activists often use to disregard and discredit transgender girls and deny them access to society as their authentic gender identity. As mentioned above, a person’s sex is determined by a number of factors – and a person’s biology does not determine a person’s gender identity.
TransgenderedSource: Glaad.org
The adjective transgender should never have an extraneous “-ed” tacked onto the end. An “-ed” suffix adds unnecessary length to the word and can cause tense confusion and grammatical errors. Not using the “-ed” suffix also brings transgender into alignment with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer. You would not say that Elton John is “gayed” or Ellen DeGeneres is “lesbianed,” therefore you would not say Laverne Cox is “transgendered.” (Similarly, cisgender never needs an “-ed” at the end.)
Best practice: Transgender, Trans
Transgenders, ‘a transgender’Source: Glaad.org
Transgender should be used as an adjective, not as a noun. Do not say, “Tony is a transgender,” or “The parade included many transgenders.” Do not write “transwoman” or “transman.” Do not capitalize transgender, unless it begins a sentence or is part of a name (e.g., National Center for Transgender Equality).
BEST PRACTICE:
transgender people, a transgender person
For example, “Tony is a transgender man,” or “The parade included many transgender people.” “Marisol is a trans woman” or “Mason is a trans man” or “Julio is a nonbinary transgender person”
Preferred PronounsSource: Glaad.org
“Preferred pronouns”
Briefly the trans and nonbinary community did use this phrase. However, it began to seem as if cisgender people had pronouns, while trans people had “preferred pronouns.” Everyone uses pronouns and they are a fact, not a preference.
BEST PRACTICE:
Simply say pronouns. As in “Please consider putting your pronouns in your email signature,” or “I use he/him. What pronouns do you use?”
AccessThe elimination of discrimination and other barriers that contribute to inequitable opportunities to join and be a part of a work group, organization, or community (APA, 2021b).
Ally/AlliesPeople who recognize the unearned privilege they receive from society’s patterns of injustice and take responsibility for changing these patterns. Being an ally is more than being sympathetic and feeling bad for those who experience discrimination. An ally is willing to act with, and for, others in pursuit of ending oppression and creating equality. Real allies are willing to step out of their comfort zones. Those who decide to undertake the ally role must recognize and understand the power and privileges that one receives, accepts, and experiences and they use that position to act for justice (Akbar, 2020)
BiasThe APA defines bias as partiality: an inclination or predisposition for or against something. Motivational and cognitive biases are two main categories studied in decision-making analysis. Motivational biases are conclusions drawn due to selfinterest, social pressures, or organization-based needs, whereas cognitive biases are judgments that go against what is considered rational, and some of these are attributed to implicit reasoning (APA, 2021b).
Culturally CompetentAbility to collaborate effectively with individuals from different cultures; such competence improves health care experiences and outcomes (Nair & Adetayo, 2019).
DiverseInvolving the representation or composition of various social identity groups in a work group, organization, or community. The focus is on social identities that correspond to societal differences in power and privilege, and thus to the marginalization of some groups based on specific attributes—for example, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion, spirituality, disability, age, national origin, immigration status, and language. There is a recognition that people have multiple identities and that social identities are intersectional and have different salience and impact in different contexts (APA, 2021b).
DiscriminationThe unjust and differential treatment of the members of different age, gender, racial, ethnic, religious, national, ability identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic, and other groups at the individual level (e.g., behavioral manifestation of prejudice involving negative, hostile, and injurious treatment of the members of targeted groups; APA, 2021b) and the institutional/structural level (e.g., operating procedures, laws, and policies) that favour certain groups over others and has the effect of restricting opportunities for other groups.
EquityProviding resources according to the need to help diverse populations achieve their highest state of health and other functioning. Equity is an ongoing process of assessing needs, correcting historical inequities, and creating conditions for optimal outcomes by members of all social identity groups (APA, 2021b).
Gender exclusive languagegender-exclusive language Terms that lump all people under masculine language or within the gender binary (man or woman), which does not include everyone. When describing a generic or hypothetical person whose gender is irrelevant to the context of the usage, do not use gendered pronouns such as “he” and “she” or gendered pronoun combinations such as “he or she” because these pronouns and pronoun combinations assume gender; instead, use the singular “they” because it is gender inclusive. When describing a specific person, use that person’s pronouns (e.g., “he,” “she,” “they,” “ze,” “xe”) (Conover et al., 2021). Ask the person for their pronouns rather than make assumptions. Also avoid gendered nouns when describing people who may be of any gender, as in the following examples: you guys, ladies and gentlemen, policeman, chairman, congressman, and freshman (Brandeis University PARC, n.d.). Instead, use gender-inclusive nouns to describe people who may be of any gender, as in the following examples: everyone, folks, folx, friends, loved ones, or y’all; distinguished guests; police officer; chair or chairperson; congressperson or member of congress; and first-year student or first year.
Global CitizenshipThe umbrella term for social, political, environmental, and economic actions of globally minded individuals and communities on a worldwide scale. The term can refer to the belief that individuals are members of multiple, diverse, local, and nonlocal networks rather than single actors affecting isolated societies (United Nations, n.d.).
Human RightsRights to which all human beings are inherently entitled. In response to widespread, horrific violations of human rights in the first half of the 20th century, the international community established The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and international human rights laws that lay down the obligations of governments to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights (APA, 2015b). Human rights are defined by the United Nations as “universal legal rights that protect individuals and groups from those behaviors that interfere with freedom and human dignity” (APA, 2021b).
Halifax Workers Compensation CentreHWAC is a resource for employees and also employers: ‘
The Halifax Workers’ Action Centre was founded in 2017 by the Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council and Solidarity Halifax.

We are committed to improving the lives and working conditions of low-waged and marginalized workers. We provide free legal information and education to enable workers to organize for positive change.’
https://www.halifaxwac.ca/about-us
InclusionAn environment that offers affirmation, celebration, and appreciation of different approaches, styles, perspectives, and experiences, thus allowing all individuals to bring in their whole selves (and all their identities) and to demonstrate their strengths and capacity (APA, 2021b).
IntersectionalityThe complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups to produce and sustain complex inequities. Kimberlé Crenshaw introduced the theory of intersectionality in a paper for the University of Chicago Legal Forum (Crenshaw, 1989), the idea that when it comes to thinking about how inequalities persist, categories like gender, race, and class are best understood as overlapping and mutually constitutive rather than isolated and distinct (Grzanka et al., 2017, 2020).
Lived Experience in EDIA workRefers to the unique knowledge an individual gains through direct, firsthand experience of living their life while identifying with one or more protected characteristic (e.g. race, gender identity & expression, sexual orientation, disability etc.)
Person’s understanding of what life is like for them as a unique individual and their experience of navigating the systems and processes that are embedded into the society around them
Can also refer to the different forms of direct and/or indirect discrimination that an individual may face due to their actual or perceived association with a particular group or protected characteristic. Source: UBC
MarginalizationRelegation to or placement in an unimportant or a depowered position in society (APA, 2017a).
OppressionOccurs when one subgroup has more access to power and privilege than another subgroup, and when that power and privilege are used to dominate the other to maintain the status quo. Thus, oppression is both a state and a process, with the state of oppression being unequal group access to power and privilege, and the process of oppression being the ways in which that inequality is maintained (APA, 2021b).
People of Colour (POC)This term represents a shift from the terms minority or colored people to refer to individuals from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Instead, use people of color or communities of color when referring to groups from diverse backgrounds. When appropriate, you may use the terms underserved, underrepresented, or marginalized to describe populations; however, use the specific group title whenever possible. For example: LGBTQ+ students, Black students, undocumented students, etc. (APA, 2020b)
PrivilegeUnearned power that is afforded to some but not others based on status rather than earned merit; such power may come in the form of rights, benefits, social comfort, opportunities, or the ability to define what is normative or valued (Bailey, 1998; Johnson, 2018; McIntosh, 1989). Privilege arises in relation to systems of oppression. A person has privilege not because they desire to have privilege or promote inequity but because they exist within a system where biased values, attitudes, and behaviors have become integrated and normalized (APA, 2019b).
Using the word minority“Minority” is usually equated with being less than, oppressed, and deficient in comparison with the majority. When it is necessary to compare a dominant racial group with a nondominant racial group, use a modifier like “racial,” “ethnic,” or “racial-ethnic.” Otherwise, other terms may be preferred, such as “people of color” to refer to non-White racial and ethnic groups or “underrepresented people.”
Problematic:
minorities
minority students
Preferred:
racial minorities, ethnic minorities, racial-ethnic minorities
racial minority students, ethnic minority students, racial-ethnic minority students
people of color
underrepresented people, underrepresented groups
source APA Style Guide