LGBTQ+ Terminology for Allies


May 30, 2022

By: Alyssa

Whether you are versed in the community, still learning or new to allyship and trying to unlearn toxic childhood teachings – you will find this is a good place to start. Education is vital to being a better support system for the LGBTQ+ community and other minorities. Having folks who truly understand and genuinely want to invoke change takes guts. Whatever the reason you are here reading this right now, I’m proud of you for wanting to be better.

First things first, we need to define who are not allies.

Bigot: a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.

These types of people are usually so immersed in their own belief that they can’t accept anything else that may go against it. This can be due to religion, upbringing or personal choice. In regards to the LGBTQ+ community, a vast majority of bigots who have tried to stifle the identity of the community are religious based biases. I challenge you to do your research here. In countries so strongly ran by faith, we must ask ourselves what good is our religion when it rips away the freedoms of others? Take it a step further and truly decipher the written religious word in it’s original context, not the rewrites that contort it’s meaning to fit an agenda.

Obtrude: to impose (oneself or one’s ideas) on others with undue insistence or without invitation.

Proselytism: the policy of attempting to convert people’s religious or political beliefs. It has come to be seen as a form of involuntary forced conversion through bribery, coercion, or violence, as such, proselytism is illegal in some countries.

These terms are important to understand and to be able to identify their meaning in your everyday life. Why? If you’re in America, I’m sure you have seen or experienced these more than once in your lifetime. The LGBTQ+ community experiences this type of behavior directed at them on a consistent basis. Our job as allies is to raise the proverbial bullshit flag when we see it. It’s not enough to know, we have to be willing to act and correct people when they’re out of line. The community has fought these battles for decades, it can be tiresome. That’s where allies come in. We have to be ready to pick up the baton and carry it when they need support.

I have some terminology to share that you must know when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community. It will help you stay better informed and up to date on proper communication. The below list is a snapshot and not all inclusive as the community is constantly growing and expanding in fluid communication. However, these are some of your foundational terms and phrases that you may hear or use when chatting with members of the community.

(Information sourced from How to be an LGBTQ+ Inclusive Wedding Pro course by The Wedding Vendor School )

  • Agender: a gender identity some people may use if they identify as having no gender or being without a gender. They may, or may not, also identify as nonbinary.
  • Ally: someone who supports a community outside of their own. In regards to someone being an LGBTQ+ ally typically it’s describing a heterosexual and/or cisgender person who supports the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Aromantic: a term used to describe people who don’t have romantic attraction or feelings. The extent of what this means to each individual is different. People can identify as aromantic but still have sexual attraction and feelings towards other people.
  • Asexual: a term used to describe people who don’t have sexual attraction or feelings. The extent of what this means to every individual is different. People can identify as asexual but still have romantic attraction and feelings towards other people
  • Bisexual: a person who is bisexual usually uses the term to describe their sexual and/or romantic attraction two or more genders, typically both men and women but can extend outside of the binary.
  • Brotherboy: term used by some Indigenous people to describe someone who was assigned female at birth but lives as a male, including taking on traditional cultural male practices.
  • Cisgender (or Cis): someone whose gender identity matches the sex that they were assigned at birth. For example, if you were assigned female at birth and your gender aligns with that description, you would also identify as cisgender, or cis.
  • Cishet: an abbreviated term used to describe a person who identifies as both cisgender and heterosexual. Meaning, you both identify as someone whose gender aligns with the sex assigned at birth and you are only romantically and sexually attracted to someone of the opposite sex.
  • Deadname/Deadnaming: A deadname is the name that a transgender person used before their transition. Deadnaming is the action of calling a transgender person by their deadname – it may be intentional or accidental. (N E V E R do this intentionally. This causes significant trauma to the person and is absolutely cruel.
  • Drag King: a person, typically indentifying as female, that dresses and performs in masculine drag and personifies male gender stereotypes. They don’t generally live their day to day lives as a man and is therefore not usually considered nonbinary or trans.
  • Drag Queen: a person, typically identifying as male, that dresses and performs in feminine drag and personifies female gender stereotypes. They don’t generally live their day to day lives as a woman and therefore don’t identify as non-binary or trans.
  • Gay: generally an identity used to describe a man who is romantically and sexually only attracted to other men. However, it is also a term used generally within the LGBTQ+ community to describe someone who is attracted to others of the same-sex and, therefore might also apply to women or people outside of the binary.
  • Gender: a social construct that helps us to categorise masculinity, femininity, or other genders. It is different from sex assigned at birth, sometimes it might align, but other times, it will not.
  • Gender Dysphoria: Is the feeling of distress or discomfort that a trans or non-binary person may feel because their sex assigned at birth, or their sex characteristics, do not align with their gender identity. Not all trans or nonbinary people experience gender dysphoria.
  • Gender Fluid: a term that some people may use to describe fluidity in their gender, meaning their gender changes over time. A gender-fluid person might identify as male one day, nonbinary another, a woman the next.
  • Gender Identity: a person’s own sense of gender. Gender is a kaleidoscope and someone might identify anywhere between male and female, or outside of the binary altogether. Gender identity for some people, can also be fluid, meaning their identity isn’t fixed.
  • Gender Expression: the way a person expresses their gender. Typically, it means the way they present themselves to the world via their behaviors, appearance, the way they dress and even the voice we have or bathrooms we use.
  • Gender Nonconforming: simply someone who doesn’t conform to the social construct of gender and gender norms. People who self-identify as gender nonconforming may or may not also identify as nonbinary.
  • Gender Queer: a self identified term for someone who is outside of the gender binary.
  • Heteronormativity: a fancy way of saying that everything is assumed heterosexual – that there is distinct male and female roles. It’s the assumption that there is a bride and a groom, that someone will wear a dress and someone will wear a suit.
  • Heterosexual: a person who is attracted to only people of the opposite sex. For example, men attracted to women, and women attracted to men.
  • Homosexual: a person who is attracted to only people of the same-sex. For example, men attracted to men, and women attracted to women. It is often viewed as a clinical term and not used to casually describe someones sexuality.
  • Intersex: someone who is born intersex is someone that is born with variations to the binary ‘two-sex’ standards – or atypical physical sex characteristics. This might mean that there are variations within the chromosomes, sex hormones or genitalia that make up that person.
  • Lesbian: used to describe women who are romantically and sexually attracted to other women.
  • LGBTQ+: an acronym used to describe someone who is a part of the sexuality, body and gender diverse community. This version stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer. The + is inclusive of other labels not included. There are variations on this acronym that are used synonymous.
  • Nonbinary (or Enby): a term used to describe someone that identifies themselves outside of (or non-conforming to) the gender binary. They don’t generally identify themselves as either male or female, rather somewhere in the gender kaleidoscope.
  • Pansexual (or Pan): is a term that refers to a person whose romantic, emotional and/or sexual attraction is not limited to sex or gender.
  • Polyamory (or Poly): to be (or the desire to be) intimate and/or romantic with more than one person at one time. A person who is polyamorous may identify as any gender or sexuality, including heterosexual.
  • Pronouns: the ‘he’ or ‘she’ terms that we sometimes use to describe a person’s identity. ‘They’ is a common pronoun used by gender diverse people.
  • QPOC: an acronym used to describe queer people of color
  • QWOC: an acronym used to describe queer women of color
  • Queer: a term that in the past was used to describe LGBTQ+ people negativley, however, it has been reclaimed and is often used as an umbrella term to define the LGBTQ+ community. It is still considered a slur to some within the community so unless it is established in conversation that it is not offensive to the other party, it’s best to steer clear of using it.
  • Sex: the biological attributes that differentiate male and female. At birth people are assigned a sex based on the characteristics of their external sex organs.
  • Sexual Orientation: used to describe who a person is attracted to, their sexual identity. This might be heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, pansexual, etc.
  • Sistergirl: a term used by some Indigenous people to describe someone who was assigned male at birth but lives as a female, including taking on traditional cultural female practices.
  • Transgender (or Trans): a person who identifies as something other than the sex they were assigned at birth.
  • Transgender Man (Trans Man): a term used to describe a person who was assigned female at birth, but lives as a man.
  • Transgender Woman (Trans Woman): is used to describe a person who was assigned male at birth, but lives as a woman.
  • Transition: a term used to describe someone who is beginning to live according to their gender identity rather than their sex assigned at birth. The transition journey looks different for every individual and may or may not involve medical interventions and, for many, is a continuing journey.
  • Two-Spirit: term used by some Indigenous people, who hold both masculine and feminine energy, to describe their gender, sexual or spiritual identity.

Rather than try to give you my own interpretation of LGBTQ+ terminology, I felt it was best to come straight from a very reliable source. After completing the How to be an LGBTQ+ Inclusive Wedding Pro course, it was extremely eye opening. Many of the proper practices and communication I have already been adhering to. However, to hear the stories and feel the emotion behind the necessity of equality worldwide… it was something that sent chills up my neck.

If this information is overwhelming and a lot to take in, good. Take your time with it but you HAVE to familiarize yourself with it and BE BETTER. After all, that’s why you’ve read this far isn’t it? Inclusive language and practices are a GOOD thing. If you’re new to it, don’t be scared. It takes some practice but the fact that you’re practicing shows you care. As I’ve mentioned before, humble yourself and take a look inward. Make sure you’re unlearning those narrow-minded and maybe bigoted approaches. They will only hinder you.

As a final wrap up in this quite winded post, I want to sincerely reiterate the NEED for checking your company you keep. Do they bring equality and inclusivity into your life? Are they accepting of the LGBTQ+ community? Have you heard them use any of the above terminology with a negative connotation or even as a slur? News flash, if they have it’s time to say something AND/OR rid yourself of them. Remember that we are all human. No matter what our religion, belief systems, or personal feelings are about something or someone, it does not give us the right to judge or degrade those who may differ from us. Diversity is a beautiful thing and brings so much love and light because of the uniqueness it holds. Learn from it, grow from it and appreciate it. It’s all part of the human experience.

Thank you so much for joining me here and jumping into this lengthy post with me. I hope that you feel more confident in your knowledge and understanding of the terminology among the LGBTQ+ community. If you’ve enjoyed this, give it a like below and don’t be afraid to share the hell out of it with friends and family. Until next time…

xo, Alyssa.

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