We need to be aware of how we use language describing gender. Terminology changes over the years and the most inclusive way to acknowledge this is to ask the person what language they would like us to use to describe their gender. Commonly used terms are explored below.
Lesbian – a woman who is sexually attracted to other women.
Gay – a homosexual person, usually used to describe a man who is sexually attracted to other men.
Bi-sexual – a person who is sexually attracted to both genders.
Transgender (trans) – umbrella term for people whose gender identity does not match their sex as assigned at birth.
Queer – umbrella term for people who might identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans. In the past this term has been used in an offensive way, however, it is now being used by some members of the LGBTQ+ community in a positive way.
Intersex – a person who is born with a body that does not fully fit into either male or female.
Asexual – used when someone isn’t sexually attracted to others of any gender.
Plus – this means that the LGBTQIA+ acronym intends to be inclusive and include everyone who doesn’t feel they fit in with the typical male/female or heterosexual groups.
In addition, some people may add additional letter, e.g. a second Q for Questioning their identity, a P for pansexual, when someone is attracted to another due to their characteristics rather than gender, or an additional A for Ally, meaning someone who supports the LGBTQ+ community. The plus sign encompasses all variations.
Gender – gender is a social construction describing masculinity and femineity, this is different from sex.
Gender identity – this is referring to which gender a person identifies with and uses to describe themselves.
Sex – A person has a sex assigned to them at birth according to their reproductive organs.
Heterosexual – A person who is sexually attracted to a person of the opposite gender.
Homosexual – A person who is sexually attracted to a person of the same gender.
Non-binary – this term is used when a person feels that they cannot describe themselves as either male or female.
Cisgender – A person whose gender identity matches their sex as assigned at birth. Cisgender is the opposite of transgender.
Gender Dysphoria – a person who experiences distress because there is a mismatch between their gender identity and their sex as assigned at birth. This term is often used in relation to children who are exploring their gender identity and do not feel they fit into their birth sex.