In my years of providing therapy, I have encountered many different acronyms and terms. Some of them I understood immediately, while I pretended to understand others. The LGBTQ community contains a lot of terminology and acronyms that are frequently misunderstood. In hopes of raising awareness and creating a more understanding culture, I have created the LGBTQ ABCs. This list is not comprehensive, so please feel free to share to any terminology that should be on the list!
In developing this list, I consulted the wonderful and incredibly informative website www.itspronouncedmetrosexual.com to ensure accuracy with these definitions. However, I had a difficult time finding terms for the letters K, X, and Y. As a result, there are extra terms under the letters A, Q, and T.
A Androgynous: a means of gender expression with masculine and feminine features
A Ally: a person who is a friend and supporter of the LGBTQ community; often has a deep respect for LGBT individuals and advocates for LGBTQ rights
B Binary: in terms of gender, the theory that gender is only male and female
C Cisgender: an individual whose biological sex and gender identity align; often shortened to just “cis”
D Drag Queen and Drag King: one who theatrically performs in a feminine (Drag Queen) or masculine (Drag King) manner
E Emotions: a conscious reaction, or state of feeling, toward a stimulus
- Obviously, emotions are not isolated to the LGBTQ community. I selected the term emotions as a reminder that all of us experience a wide variety and very similar emotions, regardless of our gender identity.
F Fluidity: describes identity or gender that can change over time; i.e. gender fluidity means that a person flows from masculine to feminine, some days feeling more masculine and others more feminine
G Gender Binary: the theory that only two genders exist (male and female) and each person must identify as one or the other, and nothing in between
H Hermaphrodite: outdated medical term referring to an individual born with both masculine and feminine sex traits; the more accurate term is Intersex
I Intersex: a term that describes individuals whose chromosomes, gonads, internal sex organs, hormones, and genitals differ from the anticipated male and female patterns
J Jazz Jennings: phenomenal transgender teenage girl who documents her journey on her reality television show, I Am Jazz
L LGBTQQIAAP: acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Allies, and Pansexual
M Metrosexual: term for a male whose interest and time spent on grooming and appearance goes beyond what is considered gender normative
N Nonbinary Gender: a term that encompasses all expressions of gender that reach beyond the scope of binary gender
O Outing: the unwanted and/or unsolicited announcement of an individual’s gender identity, orientation, or intersex status
P Pansexual: an individual who experiences romantic, sexual, spiritual, etc. attraction to individuals of all gender identities and expressions
P PGP (Preferred Gender Pronouns): often discussed and used during introductions; some options include him, his, her, hers, their, theirs, ze, and zir
- Be sensitive to the PGP, as using the incorrect pronoun can be stigmatizing, insulting, and traumatizing
Q Queer: an umbrella term used to describe a person or people who do not identify as straight
- Please note that not all individuals are comfortable with the word Queer. If a person finds the word derogatory, please use a word of their choice.
Q Questioning: an individual who unsure or is exploring their gender identity or orientation; can also refer to a time frame of self-exploration
R Romantic Attraction: the emotion any person has for another that creates the urge to date, marry, raise children, spend life together, etc.
S Sexual Preference: the type of sexual intercourse or gratification that a person likes to participate in and receive; Often confused with Sexual Orientation, which is a label used to describe the person and orientation that one is attracted to
T Transgender: individual who identifies as a gender other than that assigned at birth
U Understand: we all know what it means to understand. In this context, I encourage everyone to understand how a person identifies and how you can respect that identification. Be sensitive to the pronouns, names, and language an individual prefers. If you are unsure, ask!
V Violence: identifying as LGBTQ increases the risk of being a victim of violence exponentially. For more information, please read http://www.hrc.org/resources/hate-crimes-and-violence-against-lgbt-people.
W United States v Windsor (2013): In this Supreme Court case, it was decided that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional and removed individual states’ ability to define marriage. In addition, the Supreme Court ruled that DOMA violated the rights of the LGBT community to marry. It was the first case regarding the issue of gay marriage to be heard by the Supreme Court.
Z Ze/Zir: gender neutral pronouns that are preferred by some transgender people
I hope that this list is useful! It is meant to introduce new terminology in an easy to read manner, and help readers to use the correct language so that we all can respect the amazing LGBTQ community.
Tara Soligan, LPC, MAC, NCC, has spent the majority of her career helping clients struggling with addictions. Over the past few years, Tara has been expanded her knowledge of the LGBTQ community by participating in trainings, taking courses, and increasing her work with transgender clients and their families. Currently, she is accepting clients struggling with gender identity, individuals with substance use disorders, and young adults working to carve out a path for their future. Tara can be contacted at email@example.com.