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Glossary of Terms

Ally - a person who supports and honors sexual diversity, acts accordingly to challenge homophobic/transphobic and heterosexist remarks and behaviors, and is willing to explore and understand these forms of bias within him or herself.

Androphile - a term used in behavioral science to describe sexual orientation as an alternative to the term homosexual; it describes attraction to men or masculinity without attributing a sex assignment or gender identity to the person.

Biphobia - the fear and hatred of, or discomfort with people who are bisexual.

Bisexual - a person who is emotionally, romantically, sexually, affectionately, and relationally attracted to both men and women though not necessarily simultaneously.

Civil Union - a type of legal recognition given to non-married couples, particularly same-sex partners, so that they have access to benefits employed by married heterosexuals. In the United States, civil unions are granted and recognized in Vermont and Connecticut.

Closet - being "in the closet" means keeping your sexual orientation a secret. Many GLBTQ people remain in the closet because of fear of rejection, harassment, and anti-gay violence. Many GLBTQ people find that being in the closet can be an isolated, confining place.

Coming Out - the developmental process in which a person acknowledges, accepts, and appreciates his/her sexual orientation. Coming out is a lifelong process, starting with coming out to oneself and then to others.

Crossdresser - a person who wears clothes that are considered by society to be appropriate for another gender but not one's own. Cross-dressing does not necessarily indicate homosexuality. (This term is preferred to "transvestite").

Discrimination - differential treatment that favors one individual or group over another based on prejudice.

Domestic Partners or Domestic Partnerships - individuals who share a life together, but are not married or joined in a civil union. A number of jurisdictions and institutions recognize and grant rights to same-sex domestic partners.

Drag or In Drag - wearing clothing considered appropriate for someone of another gender. Drag also generally includes performing exaggerated aspects of the opposite gender.

Drag King or Drag Queen - a woman (typically a lesbian) and a man (typically a gay man), respectively, who employ gender-marked clothing, makeup, and mannerisms for their own and other people's appreciation or for entertainment.

FTM - a female-to-male (FTM) transsexual, or a transsexual man. Some transsexuals reject this term, arguing that they have always been male and are only making that identity visible.

Gay - was used commonly in previous generations to refer to all people who are GLBTQ. It is more commonly used to refer to gay men. This word has been used often as slang to make reference to something negative. The use of this word in this manner may be hurtful to sexual minorities and is not consistent with being an ally.

Gay Man - a man who is emotionally, romantically, sexually, affectionately, and relationally attracted to other men.

Gender - a social construct defining the collection of characteristics that are culturally associated with masculinity or femininity; gender is to "masculine" and "feminine" as sex is to "male" and "female."

Gender Identity - has to do with whether a person perceives themselves to be a man or a woman; research indicates that gender identity is typically established by 3 years of age, however gender identity is fluid and can change throughout someone's lifetime.

Gender Role - the norms of expected behavior for men and women assigned primarily on the basis of biological sex; a social construct that varies from culture to culture.

Genderqueer - a term used by many trans-youth who do not identify as either male or female and who often seek to blur gender lines.

Gender Variant - an alternative term for transgender, meaning someone who varies from traditional expression of "masculine" and "feminine".

Gynephile- a term used in behavioral science to describe sexual orientation as an alternative to the term homosexual; it describes attraction to women or femininity without attributing a sex assignment or gender identity to the person.

Heterocentrism - the assumption that everyone is heterosexual unless otherwise indicated.

Heterosexism - the individual, group, or institutional norms and behaviors that result from the assumption that all people are heterosexual. This system of oppression, which assumes that heterosexuality is inherently normal and superior, negates GLBTQ peoples' lives and relationships

Heterosexual - a person who is primarily or exclusively emotionally, romantically, sexually, affectionately, and relationally attracted to people of the "opposite" sex

Heterosexual Privilege - the basic civil rights and social privileges that a heterosexual person automatically receives that are systematically denied to gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons simply because of their sexual orientation. The assumption that all people are heterosexual.

Hir - a non-gender specific pronoun used instead of "her" or "him."

Homophobia - the fear and hatred of or discomfort with people who love and sexually desire members of the same sex. Homophobic/transphobic reactions often lead to intolerance, bigotry, and violence against anyone not acting within heterosexual norms.

Internalized homophobia - fear and self-hate towards one's own sexual orientation. Its development is caused by exposure to negative depictions of homosexuality. One form of internalized oppression is the acceptance of the myths and stereotypes applied to the oppressed group. GLBTQ people are raised in the same society as heterosexuals and thus learn the same beliefs and stereotypes prevalent in the dominant society.

Intersex - a person who is born with "sex chromosomes", external genitalia, or an internal reproductive system that is not considered "standard" for either male or female (preferred term over "hermaphrodite"). About 1 in 2,000 children or five children per day in the U.S. are born visibly intersex.

MTF - a male-to-female transsexual, or a transsexual woman. Some transsexuals reject this term, arguing that they have always been female and are only making that identity visible.

Lavender - color identified with GLBTQ culture, a mix of pink and blue.

Lesbian - a woman who is emotionally, romantically, sexually, affectionately, and relationally attracted to other women.

Oppression - the systematic exploitation of one social group by another for its own benefit. It involves institutional control, ideological domination, and the promulgation of the dominant group's culture on the oppressed. Oppression =Prejudice + Power.

Outing - exposing someone's sexual orientation to others, usually without their permission.

Partner - short for "life partner". Gender-free, hetero-assumption-free term for someone with whom one is involved, usually in a primary relationship. Also, a person's partner in marriage, life, dating. Can be used by both heterosexual and homosexual couples.

Passing - describes a person's ability to be seen as their chosen gender/sex or sexual orientation.

Queer - term that is inclusive of people who are not heterosexual-includes lesbians, gay men, bisexual people, and transgendered people. For many GLBTQ people, the word "queer" has a negative connotation and provokes discomfort: however, many younger gay people are comfortable using the term and have reclaimed" it.

Sex - a biological term dividing a species into male or female, usually sex chromosomes (XX = female, XY = male): hormone levels, secondary sex characteristics, and internal and external genitalia may also be considered criteria. Another term for sexual behavior or gratification. Sex is a biological fact or a sexual act.

Sie - a non-gender specific pronoun used instead of "she" or "he".

Sexual behavior - what a person does in terms of sexual acts.

Sexuality - the complex range of components that make us sexual beings: includes emotional, physical, and sexual aspects, as well as self-identification (including sexual orientation and gender), behavioral preferences and practices, fantasies, and feelings of affection and emotional affinity.

Sexual Orientation - an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual, affectionate, and relational attraction to another person. This can involve fantasy, behavior, and self-identification: a person's general makeup or alignment in terms of partner attraction.

Sexual Preference - what a person likes or prefers to do sexually: a conscious recognition or choice not to be confused with sexual orientation.

Transgendered - the old understanding of the word meant a person whose gender identity differs from what is culturally associated with their biological sex at birth. However, as information has evolved, it is now an umbrella term that includes a wide range of identities and includes pre´┐Żoperative, post-operative, and non-operative transsexual people. In its general sense, it refers to anyone whose behavior or identity falls outside of stereotypical expectations for their gender.

Transition (transitioning) - this term is primarily used to refer to the process a transgender person undergoes when changing their bodily appearance either to be more congruent with the gender/sex they feel themselves to be and/or to be in harmony with their preferred gender expression.

Transphobia - the fear and hatred of or discomfort with people who are transgendered.

Transsexual - a medical term referring to a person whose gender identity differs from what is culturally associated with their biological sex at birth and who chose to undergo sex reassignment surgery. This term is considered outdated.

Transvestite - an individual who dresses in the opposite' gender clothing for a variety of reasons.

Two-Spirited - Native American term to refer to persons with characteristics of both genders or attraction to both genders: culturally revered for their special qualities.