Definitions – LGBTQ terminology

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Androgynous – a person who is not obviously physically male or female.

Asexual (re: biological definition) – a person born with no male or female sexual organs or physical characters.

Asexual (re: sexual orientation) – a person who lacks sexual attraction to anyone and has little or no interest in sexual activity.

Bisexual – a person who sexual orientation/attraction is for both males and females.

Gay – a male whose primary sexual orientation/attraction is for other males. The term gay is often used to refer to all members of the LGBTQ community, but this inclusive term is gradually being replaced by the term queer, with gay being reserved for males attracted to males.

Gender – a person’s biological sex; the physical sexual characters with which one is born.

Gender Identity – a person’s self-image of their gender, which does not always correspond with their biological sex.  Note that gender identity is distinct from sexual orientation.  Regardless of physical gender, a person may identify as having a heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or other sexual orientation.

Heterosexual – a person whose sexual orientation/attraction is for a member of the opposite biological sex.

Homosexual – a person whose sexual orientation/attraction is for a member of the same biological sex.

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Intersex – a person born with a combination of male and female physical sexual characters.  Previously, intersex people were referred to as hermaphrodites; this term is now considered inappropriate.  Often, the genetic sex (based on XX or XY chromosomes) of intersex people does not match their physical gender (genitalia).  For this reason, surgical assignment of physical sex on young intersex children is being done less frequently, or is at least postponed until the child is old enough to express their gender identity.  Approximately 1 in 2,000 babies is born intersexed.

LGBTT2IQQ – an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirited, intersex, queer, and/or questioning individuals or communities.  While this acronym has expanded from the original LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans) version in an attempt to be more inclusive, it has become more difficult to include in conversation, so is often replace by just the term ‘queer’.  Other versions of the acronym include LGBTTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirited, intersex, and queer/questioning) or LGBTQ.

Queer – a person in the LGBT community, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and two-spirited people.  While this term was historically been used in a derogatory sense, the LGBT community has reclaimed this word and use it proudly to describe their identity.

Questioning – a person who is unclear about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

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Sexual Orientation – how someone thinks of themselves in terms of their emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction for another person.

Trans – a non-clinical term that includes transsexual, transgender, and other gender-variant people.

Transgender – a person who does not conform to society’s gender norms of masculinity or femininity.  This category includes a wide range of identities, such as transvestites, cross-dressers, and drag queens.

Transsexual – a person who self-identifies long-term as being of a gender opposite to their gender at birth.  Transsexual people may undergo hormone treatment and/or sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) to align their bodies with their gender self-identity.

Transman, or Female to Male Transsexual – a person who was identified as female at birth, but self identifies as a male.

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Transwoman, or Male to Female Transsexual – a person who identified as male at birth, but self identifies as a female.

Two-spirited – an English term used to describe a First Nation or indigenous person who, traditionally, was one who had received a gift from the Creator, that gift being the privilege to house both male and female spirits in their bodies.  Being given the gift of two spirits meant that this individual had the ability to see the world from two perspectives at the same time.

Other sources for definitions:

PFLAG-Canada: www.pflagcanada.ca/en/glossary

OHRC (Ontario Human Rights Commission): www.ohrc.on.ca/en/gender-identity-and-gender-expression-brochure

Sources:

Barbara, A.M., G. Chaim, and F. Doctor. 2007. Asking the right questions, 2.  Taking with clients about sexual orientation and gender identity in mental health, counselling, and addiction settings.  CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health). Toronto, ON.  64 pp.

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