Sexual orientation: Who you are attracted to. An inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people.

Gender identity: Who you are. One'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.

Gender expression: How you express who you are. External appearance of one's gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut or voice, and which may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine.

Transgender: 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.

Gender transition: The 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.

Gender dysphoria: Clinically significant distress caused when a person's assigned birth gender is not the same as the one with which they identify. According to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the term – which replaces Gender Identity Disorder – "is intended to better characterize the experiences of affected children, adolescents, and adults."

Queer: Q in LGBTQ usually means queer, and sometimes also questioning; Once a pejorative term, now reclaimed by some LGBT people to describe themselves. Not universally accepted within the community; Typically used as an umbrella term to describe someone whose sexual orientation or gender identity falls outside of “societal norms.”

Gender Nonconforming: People whose gender expression is different from conventional expectations of masculinity and femininity

Genderqueer and Nonbinary: Terms used by some people who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as falling outside the categories of man and woman.

Intersex: A general term used by some people for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit the typical definitions of female and male.

Agender: People who have no gender identity or have a gender identity that is neutral


Language to consider

Preferred: gay (adj.), gay man, bisexual person, lesbian(n.), queer person

Avoid: homosexual (as a n. or adj.), gays (n.)

Preferred: sexual orientation, orientation

Avoid: sexual preference

Preferred: LGBTQ people and their lives

Avoid: gay lifestyle, transgender lifestyle

Preferred: marriage equality, marriage for gay/lesbian couples, marriage

Avoid: gay marriage or same-sex marriage

Preferred: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community

Avoid: gay community

Preferred: transgender (adj.), trans (adj.)

Avoid: transgendered, a transgender (n.), transvestite, tranny (slur)

Preferred: gender identity, gender expression

Avoid: sexual identity

medical disclaimer >


Service Providers and Support Groups