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Glossary of LGBTIQ Terms

RETURN TO BLOG: The Dynamics of Intimate Partner Abuse has some unique perspectives in LGBTIQ Relationships

This short glossary is used to clarify terms used in my blog entitled –

“The Dynamics of Intimate Partner Abuse has some unique perspectives in LGBTIQ Relationships”


Bisexual: A term used to refer to a person whose enduring physical, romantic, spiritual and/or emotional attraction is to male/men and females/women.

Gay: A term used to refer to men and women attracted to the same sex, although ‘lesbian’ is the more common term for women.

Gender expression: Is the term that describes external ways that a person communicates their sex and their gender. Forms of external gender expression can include the clothes the person wears, their hair styles, ways of speaking, the roles the person takes when interacting with others. These expressions can change from day to day. Gender expression is a continuum, with masculine at one end and feminine at the other. Along that continuum the person’s gender expression can be neither masculine nor feminine, and a person can express themselves by ‘gender bending’, which means defying rigid gender roles and sex-role stereotypes. Gender expression can vary for an individual from day to day, or in different situations. But most people can identify a range on the scale where they feel the most comfortable. Some people are comfortable with a wider range of gender expression than others. Gender expression can be presented to others consciously and unconsciously.

Transgender people tend to make their gender expression match their gender identity, rather than their birth-assigned sex.

Gender Identity is an internal, deeply rooted sense of an authentic gendered self, which can range along a continuum from femininity to masculinity, and may vary depending on culture, context and location. The person’s gender identity may, or may not be manifested in their outward appearance. And the person’s gender identity is completely separate from their sexual orientation or sexual preference. An individual may have a self-perception of their gender that is different, or the same as, their biological sex, but for transgender people, their birth-assigned sex and their own internal psychological sense of gender identity do not match.

Gender Non-Conforming: A person who is, or is perceived to have, gender characteristics that do not conform to dominant social expectations.

Gender Role: This term stems from dominant social messages about how males and females “should” behave, think and feel based on their socially assigned gender.

Heterosexual: This term is used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic, spiritual, and/or emotional attraction is to people of the opposite sex. It is also the dominant social norm that all other genders and sexual orientations are measured against.

Intersex: The term intersex refers to a person with naturally occurring ambiguous biological sex at birth. There are many genetic, hormonal, or anatomical variations that can make a person’s genitalia or internal sex organs ambiguous, such as a person with both ovarian and testicular tissues. Other intersex people have a combination of chromosomes that is different than XY (male) and XX (female), like XXY. The person’s X and Y chromosomes do not correspond to the usual expectations for either sex. Some babies are assigned male at birth, whilst others are assigned female. Intersex people may identify as a woman or man, or any other gender identity

Lesbian: A term used to refer to a woman whose enduring physical, romantic, spiritual and/or emotional attraction is to other women. Some lesbians prefer to identify as a gay woman.

 Queer: The word ‘’Queer’ is an umbrella term used to include the entire LGBTIQ communities. However, in the 1950’s the word Queer was mostly used in a bullying, derogatory manner. Now LGBTIQ communities are taking their power back by taking ownership of the word ‘queer’.

Sexual orientation: The way in which a person is emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually attracted whether they’re attracted primarily to people of the same sex, or other sex, or to both.

Straight: Pop culture refers to heterosexuality as ‘straight’. However, this has a negative overtone within the LGBTIQ populations, because it suggested that non-heterosexual individuals are ‘crooked’ or ‘unnatural’.

Transsexual: This term refers to a person who emotionally and psychologically feels that they belong to the opposite sex.

Transition: A term used by a person who might want to transition from one sex to another because their outward gender identity does not align with their birth sex designation, or does not align with their internal sense of gender identity. That person may then change gender by undergoing surgical procedures.

Transgender, trans man, trans woman: Individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex, or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. A transgender man is someone who was assigned female at birth and lives as a male. A transgender woman is someone who was assigned male at birth and lives as a female.

Trans with an * asterisk. This term is often used to refer to wider groups of people who identify their gender as trans, or as a gender that is in between, or genderqueer, or not strictly masculine or feminine. There are several examples of these kinds of cultures throughout history. The Modern ‘Genderqueer’ Movement has become an identity for many people who feel frustrated by the Western strict notion of feminine/masculine. This expression was created in the 1990s as an umbrella term for anyone who felt that they fell outside of strict ‘male’ or ‘female’ identities.

There are many cultures with third, fourth and fifth genders. Cultures that are gender diverse, and accept sexual orientation diversity, are not new. In many cultures around the world, there have been people who were allowed to live their lives beyond conventional masculine-feminine stereotypes.

Unfortunately, these people also had their sexual identities stolen by the processes of Western colonisation.

In the southern hemisphere, Australian Indigenous people and Torres Strait Islander communities use the terms ‘sistergirl’ or ‘brotherboy’. Also, Māori culture in Aotearoa (New Zealand) where I grew up, historically welcomed diverse genders and sexualities. Samoan Fa’afafine are men who are raised as females and identify with the female gender. They typically have relationships with heterosexual men and are largely not gay, and it is not uncommon to raise one of the boys as a girl. Likewise, so did the fakaleiti of Tonga.

In the northern hemisphere the māhū of Hawaii, and ‘Third Sex Cultures’ such as Native American ‘Two Spirit’ people and may not identify themselves as gay, or lesbian, or queer, since the original concept of the term ‘Two Spirit’ entailed embracing the spirituality of two genders. The ‘Two Spirit’ people hold a symbolic place of honour in their societies, but unfortunately colonisation dislocated the social status and rights of the ‘Two Spirit’ people.


RETURN TO BLOG: The Dynamics of Intimate Partner Abuse has some unique perspectives in LGBTIQ Relationships