The LGBTQ+ glossary: 57 terms you should know when you're talking about gender and sexuality, from agender to xenogender

The LGBTQ+ glossary: 57 terms you should know when you're talking about gender and sexuality, from agender to xenogender
  • Words to describe the spectrums of gender and sexuality and the experiences of being LGBTQ are ever evolving.

  • Insider has compiled a comprehensive list of terms regarding sexuality, gender, and gender expression.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The list of LGBTQ-related terms is always evolving to encapsulate every queer identity.

Insider has put together a list of terms on gender and sexuality to best describe everything under the LGBTQ+ umbrella.

This is an ever-expanding list, as language is always evolving and growing to best suit our changing perceptions of gender, sexuality, and queerness.


Agender (adj.): someone who is genderless and does not identify as a man, a woman, or any gender along the nonbinary spectrum

gender dysphoria
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Source: Teen Vogue

Androgenous (adj.): a person who presents their gender in a fluid way that incorporates both typically feminine and masculine traits

A transmasculine person sitting in a park and thinking
Zackary Drucker/The Gender Spectrum Collection

Source: Teen Vogue

Androsexual (adj.): a person who is attracted to people on the masculine side of the gender spectrum

gay kissing
SOPA Images / Getty Images

Source: Cosmopolitan

Aromantic (adj.): a person who has little to no romantic attraction to people

A non binary femme using their phone
Zackary Drucker/Gender Spectrum Collection

Asexual (adj.): a person who has little to no sexual attraction to people

Natural hair
Mint Images - Tim Robbins/Getty Images

Aceflux (adj.): Someone on the asexual spectrum whose sex drive fluctuates but generally is asexual

two men reading
The Census Bureau’s report found that the median household income of same-gender couples overall was $107,200, compared to $97,000 for opposite-gender couples.Marko Geber

Ballroom culture (noun): a subculture created by Black and Latinx queer communities in the 1920s where people dress up and are scored based on their presentation

indya moore angel pose
Indya Moore as Angel on FX's "Pose."FX

Ballroom has recently gotten mainstream recognition because of FX's hit series "Pose," which follows the lives of trans women and femmes of color in New York City in the 1980s.

It's an integral community-building space for many queer people of color, as many often face racism and rejection from predominantly white LGBTQ+ spaces.

Bicurious (adj.): a person who is questioning whether they're attracted to people of multiple genders

Interracial queer couple
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Bigender (adj.): a person who fluctuates across two or more genders on the spectrum or identifies as two or more genders

A genderqueer person looking at their phone
Zackary Drucker/The Gender Spectrum Collection

The term bigender initially referred to someone who identifies as both a man and woman. Now, it has evolved to mean someone who identifies as two or more genders.

Binder (noun): a vest used to compress someone's chest to give it a flatter appearance, often used by trans men and nonbinary people

chest binder gc2b

Source: Insider

Biphobia (noun): the specific discrimination that bisexual people face for being bi

Horacio Villalobos / Getty Images

Source: Insider

Bisexual (adj.): a person attracted to more than one gender

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BTLM (noun): an abbreviation for Black Trans Lives Matter; used as a chant to protest the epidemic of violence against trans Black women and femmes

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People take part in an All Black Lives Matter march, organized by Black LGBTQ+ leaders, in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 14, 2020.REUTERS/Ringo Chiu

Trans people are killed at alarming rates, particularly trans women and femmes of color. The American Medical Association has said violence against trans people — and specifically trans women of color — is an epidemic.

2020 was the deadliest year for trans people on record, with at least 43 trans or gender-nonconforming people killed. Most were trans women of color.

"Black Trans Lives Matter" became a rallying cry in June after the deaths of two Black trans women, Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells and Riah Milton, within 24 hours sparked large protests against the epidemic of violence.

Butch (noun and adj.): a queer person who identifies as masculine

Butch Lesbian
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The term was originally used to refer to masculine lesbians but has evolved to include nonbinary people.

Cisgender (adj.): someone whose gender matches the sex they were assigned at birth

Focused person
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Cis-het (adj.): short for "cisgender and heterosexual"

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Cissexism (noun): giving cisgender people better treatment than transgender people, whether intentional or not

A non binary student talking to a friend in front of their locker
Zackary Drucker/The Gender Spectrum Collection

Closeted (adj.): a person who is not openly out about their gender or sexuality

queer people having fight
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Coming out (verb): when a person tells people about their gender or sexuality

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People take part in the Berlin Pride 2020 event, in Berlin, Germany, June 27, 2020.REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Not all LGBTQ people feel the need to or have the ability to "come out."

Crossdressing (verb): dressing in clothes associated with a gender that is not your own

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Someone who crossdresses isn't necessarily queer in their sexuality.

Demiromantic (adj.): a person who has little to no romantic connection to someone until they have established a strong sexual dynamic

gay couple sex
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Demigirl (n.): someone assigned female at birth who does not fully identify with womanhood

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Demisexual (adj.): someone who cannot feel sexual attraction until they have established an emotional connection with someone

Queer Couple
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Down Low (noun): a term that originated in Black and brown communities used to refer to men who outwardly identify as straight but have sex with other men behind closed doors

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"Down Low," or "DL," became popularized in the 1990s. While being closeted is not unique to Black and brown communities, the term refers to how the specific intersection of racism and homophobia affects queer men of color in the closet.

Source: New York Times

Drag (noun): typically associated with gay men dressing up as women, drag refers to the art of a person of any gender identity dressing up extravagantly and performing in a drag show

Drag queen
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The practice originated in the 1890s in Black queer communities and served as the basis for Ballroom and modern drag.

Dyke (noun): originally used as a slur against masculine lesbians, the term has been reclaimed by some queer people to self-identify

Dykes for trans lives
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Cis-het people should still refrain from using the term.

Femme-of-center (adj.): a queer person who is feminine. Masc-of-center (adj.): a queer person who is masculine.

Transgender person having conversation
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Femme-of-center people are not exclusively women. Masc-of-center people are not exclusively men.

These categories can include nonbinary people and cisgender men and women.

Femme (noun and adj.): a queer person who is feminine in ways that break from traditional femininity and is not necessarily a woman

transfemme person
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Femme is a shortened, more colloquial version of femme-of-center.

FtM (adj.): a female-to-male transgender person, or a trans man.

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Not all trans people who fit this description like to be referred to as FtM.

Gay (adj.): a man who is attracted to other men

gay couple at home
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Gender expression (noun): how someone dresses, cuts their hair, or outwardly expresses their gender

trans kid
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Gender expression has nothing to do with gender identity or sexuality.

Gender identity (noun): what someone's gender is, regardless of what they were assigned at birth, how they look, or who they are attracted to

trans masc
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Gender-nonconforming (adj.): a person who does not fit into traditional gender norms, whether because of their gender expression or gender identity

transfeminine gender non-binary
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Genderfluid (adj.): someone who fluctuates along the gender spectrum, sometimes identifying as more masculine and other times as more feminine

Genderfluid person
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Genderqueer (adj.): a person who does not identify as a man or a woman

trans child
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Heterosexual (adj.): a person who is attracted to people of the opposite sex

couple kissing
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Homophobia (noun): discrimination against queer people

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A new study suggests homophobia could be a mental illness, but leading experts say it's more of a societal problem.Monika Graff/Getty Images

Intersex (adj.): someone born with sexual characteristics, such as genitalia and hormone levels, that are considered both male and female

Caster Semenya
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Some intersex athletes like the South African Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya have been barred from competing in events by people citing "unfair advantages" like testosterone levels higher than is considered within the bounds of being "female."

The discrimination faced by intersex people has spurred protests in recent years, particularly against intersex "correction" procedures that often force painful surgeries and hormone therapies on young children.

Lesbian (noun and adj.): a woman who is attracted to other women

lesbian couple at home
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LGBTIQA+ (noun): an abbreviation for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, asexual, and more"

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The outcome of a scuffle over pride flags at a California farmers' market demonstrates how video footage of bad behavior is having a moment online.Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

The "plus" represents the expanding nature of the abbreviation.

Masc (adj.): a queer person who is masculine in ways that break from traditional masculinity and is not necessarily a man

Queer person
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Masc is a shortened, more colloquial version of masc-of-center.

MtF (adj.): a male-to-female transgender person, or a transwoman.

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Not all trans people who fit this description like to be called MtF.

Mx. (noun): a prefix used to refer to people who are nonbinary

a non-binary person
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Nonbinary (adj.): an umbrella term for a person who does not identify as a man or a woman

nonbinary person
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Outing (verb): the act of exposing someone's gender identity or sexuality without their consent

Person crying
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Pansexual (adj.): someone who is attracted to people of all genders

Queer elderly couple
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Polyamory (noun): the concept of ethical nonmonogamous dating and love

polyamorous relationship friends
Omar Lopez/Unsplash

Polyamorous people often date and love multiple partners, sometimes in trios and sometimes independently of their partners.

Unlike cheating, polyamory strives to be ethical and involves informing all parties that the relationship is open.

Queer (adj.): an umbrella term used to describe LGBTQ+ people

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Athena Sylvers addresses the crowd at the Pride Liberation March, an event highlighting the Black Lives Matter movement within the LGBTQ community in Denver, Colorado, U.S., June 14, 2020.REUTERS/Kevin Mohatt

Many people have reclaimed "queer" — originally a slur for LGBTQ+ people in the 1800s and 1900s — to refer to themselves.

QTPOC (noun and adj.): an abbreviation for "queer transgender people of color"

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People participate in a Black Trans Lives Matter rally in the Brooklyn borough in New York City, U.S., June 14, 2020.REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

The term was created in part to make space for people of color who are often subjected to racism in predominantly white LGBTQ spaces.

Sex assigned at birth (noun): the sex that doctors assign an infant based on their genitalia

father baby

Sexual orientation (noun): a category that refers to who a person is attracted to

A woman walks past rainbow flags placed on a street during the International LGBT Pride Day, in Villanueva de Algaidas, southern Spain June 28, 2020. REUTERS/Jon Nazca
A woman walks past rainbow flags placed on a street during the International LGBT Pride Day, in Villanueva de AlgaidasReuters

Sexual orientations include gay, bisexual, lesbian, and pansexual.

Straight (adj.): someone who is heterosexual

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Stud (adj.): a term used to refer to masculine Black lesbians

Stud Lesbian LGBTQ
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"Stud" was popularized in the 1990s because of segregation between white LGBTQ+ spaces and Black LGBTQ+ spaces.

It is problematic for non-Black masc-of-center people to call themselves studs.

Transgender (adj.): a person whose gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth

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Trixic (n.): a nonbinary person who is attracted to women, though it doesn't have to be an exclusive attraction.

LGBTQ nonbinary queer
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Two-Spirit (adj.): an umbrella term for Native American nonbinary communities

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Like "nonbinary," "Two-Spirit" encompasses genders beyond man and woman, but it explicitly applies to Native American conceptions of gender before colonization and existing today.

Gender variance was used as a tool of European colonization to demonize Native people and justify genocide and forced religious conversion.

Xenogender (n.): a gender that cannot be understood or limited to human conceptions of gender

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A wall of shade under a tree on the Lyndhurst Mansion grounds.Joey Hadden/Insider

Xenogender people often use animals, plants, and things to describe their gender.

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