Gender and Sexual Identity Terminology

When it comes to any labels in life, it always ultimately boils down to what a person is comfortable identifying with, and what labels they want to have used in connection with them. It is a good idea to use terms only when you are comfortable explaining what it means, and know enough about it to do so.  

  • Abrosexual: A person who fluctuates between sexualities
  • Agender: a person with or very little connection to the traditional gender systems, or with no alignment with the concepts of gender, or seeing themselves as existing without gender.
  • Akoirosexual (or lithrosexual or aprosexual): A term used to denote sexual attraction which fades or disappears once it is reciprocated.
  • Akoisexual: A person who experiences attraction but doesn't wish for it to be reciprocated / acted on
  • Ally: A cisgender person supporting LGBTQIA rights
  • Androgyny: a gender expression that has elements of both, masculine and feminine.
  • Androsexual: A person being primarily sexually, romantically or emotionally attracted to some men, or to those who identify as male, or, to masculinity.
  • Androsexual: A term used to denote sexual attraction to males.
  • Antisexual: A term used to denote an asexual that is not interested in sex or feels no sexual attraction at all, or has no desire to be in any type of sexual relationship whatsoever.
  • Aromantic / Aro: A person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others and / or has a lack of interest in romantic relationships and romantic behavior.
  • Asexual / Ace: A person who experiences little or no sexual attraction to others and / or has a lack of interest in sexual relationships and sexual behavior.
  • Bicurious: A person with curiosity about attraction towards people of the same gender or sex. It can be considered similar to gender questioning.
  • Bigender: A person who fluctuates from traditional women / man gender behavior and identities, and generally identifies with both genders.
  • Biological sex: Refers to the medical term that details chromosomal, hormonal and anatomical characteristics that are used to classify a person as male or female. It is often seen as binary, but it is not – because there are multiple combinations of primary and secondary sex characteristics.
  • Bisexual: A person who is emotionally and/or physically and/or sexually attracted to two sexes or two genders – their own, and another.
  • Butch: A person who identifies as masculine – physically, mentally or emotionally. It is used sometimes in a derogatory way for lesbians, but has been claimed in places as an affirmative identity.
  • Ceterosexual: A person who is emotionally and/or physically and/or sexually attracted only to the non-binary
  • Cisgender: A person whose gender identity and biological sex that has been assigned at birth are in alignment with one another.
  • Cisnormativity: An assumption that cisgender is the norm or that cisgender is being superior to other gender identities. It tends to make other genders invisible.
  • Cissexism: Behaviour that is partial or biased in favour of cisgender people, asserting heteronormativity or that being cisgender is being right or normal as opposed to any other gender identity. It tends to make other genders invisible.
  • Closeted: An individual that is not open to others or to themselves about their gender identities. It could be for a variety of reasons ranging from fear and social pressure to personal choice. It is also known as “being in the closet.”
  • Coming Out: A process where a person accepts their own gender identity or sexuality.
  • Constellation: An adjective that serves to describe the arrangement of a poly-amorous relationship.
  • Cross-dresser: A person who wears the clothes that are considered “specific” to another gender or sex.
  • Cupiosexual: A person who experiences a lack of attraction, but desires a relationship
  • Demiromantic: A person with little to no capacity to experience romantic attractions until such time that a strong sexual or emotional connection is formed with another individual. This is often situated in a sexual relationship.
  • Demisexual: A person with little or no capacity to experience sexual attraction until a strong romantic or emotional connection is formed with another individual. This is often situated in a romantic relationship.
  • Down low: The term refers to men who identify as heterosexual, but secretly have sex with men.
  • Drag King: A person who theatrically performs masculinity.
  • Drag Queen: A person who theatrically performs femininity.
  • Dyke: A term that is used to refer to a masculine presenting lesbian – used derogatorily oftentimes. However, there are instances when it has been adopted affirmatively by lesbians as a positive term of self-identification.
  • Emotional Attraction: Refers to the capacity of desire or want to engage in intimate romantic behavior.
  • Faggot: A derogatory term that is used to refer to someone who is gay or is perceived as queer.
  • Feminine-of-Center: A word to indicate a range of gender identities and presentations for a person who presents, understands themselves with or relates to others with a feminine way, but doesn’t necessarily identify as a woman. They may also identify as femme, submissive or trans feminine.
  • Feminine-presenting: A term that describes a person who expresses their gender in a feminine way.
  • Femme: A person who identifies themselves as feminine. This could be emotionally, mentally or physically. The term is used to refer to a feminine-presenting queer woman.
  • Fluid: An identity that is dynamic, that can change over time or can be a mix of options that are available. The term is often used with gender (as in gender fluidity) and sexuality (as in fluid sexuality).
  • Fraysexual: A person who experiences a fading of attraction after meeting someone
  • FtM or F2M: An abbreviation of a term used to refer to a female-to-male transgender or transsexual person.
  • Gay: A term used to refer to the sexual orientation of people who are primarily, emotionally and / or sexually attracted to people of the same sex and / or gender. It is often used in reference to men who are attracted to other men, but can also be applied to women. The term has also been used as an umbrella term to refer to the queer community at large, or can be ascribed as an individual identity label for anyone who does not identify as heterosexual.
  • Gender Binary: A term that is used to refer to a notion or idea that there are only two genders, and that people are one or the other.
  • Gender Expression: A term that is used to denote the external display of a person’s gender. This is usually done through a combination of dressing, demeanour, behavior among other things. The gender expression indicator is a spectrum that is measured on scales of masculinity and femininity. It can also be called gender presentation.
  • Gender Fluid: A term used to denote a gender identity that is best described as a dynamic mix of masculine and feminine gender identities. Usually, a person who is gender fluid may always feel like there is a mix of the two traditional genders, but, may also, likely, feel more like one gender identity on some days, and more like the other on some days.
  • Gender Identity: Gender identity refers to the internal perception of one’s gender, and to how an individual labels themselves depending on how much they align or don’t align with what they understand their options for gender are. Common gender identity labels include man, woman, gender queer and trans, among others. Gender identity is often confused with biological sex, or the sex that is assigned at birth.
  • Gender Neutrosis: It is a term used to describe how a person has very little connection to traditional gender systems, or has no alignment with concepts of gender sees themselves as existing without gender.
  • Gender non-conforming: This is a term that’s used to describe non-traditional gender presentations – for example, a feminine man or a masculine woman. It is also used to indicate a person who is outside the scope of the gender binary.
  • Gender normative: A term used to represent a person whose gender presentation (be it by nature or by choice) is in alignment with social gender-based expectations. People also use “gender straight” as a term.
  • Gender Queer: A term that is used to denote a person who does not identify with the gender binary. It is also used as an umbrella term to represent gender non-conforming or non-binary identities that include agender, bigender and gender fluid, among others. A person who identifies as gender queer whose identity may combine aspects of masculine and feminine (bigender), or a range of identities (pangender), or may not have a gender or not identify with a gender (genderless or agender), or may move between genders (gender fluid), or may not place a name to their gender – having an overlap of, or blurred lines in between gender identity and sexual / romantic orientations.
  • Gender Variant: A term used to denote a person who by nature or by choice does not conform to gender-based expectations of society.
  • Graysexual: A blanket term used to denote all those who fall anywhere in the spectrum between Sexual and Asexual.
  • Gynosexual: A term used to denote sexual attraction to females.
  • Gynsexual (or Gynephilic): A term that denotes being primarily sexually, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to women / females / femininity.
  • Hermaphrodite: A term used to refer to a person who is born with a combination of typically male and typically female sex characteristics. It was used as a medical term, and is deemed to be stigmatizing and inaccurate, and is therefore outdated.
  • Heteroflexible: A person who is primarily emotionally and/or physically and/or sexually attracted to other sexes, occasionally to the same sex.
  • Heteronormativity: A term that denotes the assumptions that everyone is heterosexual, or that heterosexuality is the “right” or the “superior” way to be. It is often manifested in the way we behave with others around us – such as asking a woman if she has a boyfriend or a man if he has a girlfriend. It leads to the assumption that only masculine men and feminine women are “right” or “normal.”
  • Heterosexism: A term used to denote the preferential treatment granted to heterosexual people and reinforces the idea that heterosexuality is better or superior to queerness or makes other sexualities invisible.
  • Heterosexual: A term that denotes a person who is primarily emotionally or physically or sexually attracted to members of the “opposite” sex – therefore, it is couched in the binary. It is also alternatively called “straight” but that term stems from heterosexism and heteronormativity.
  • Homoflexible: A person who is primarily emotionally and/or physically and/or sexually attracted to the same sex, occasionally to another sex
  • Homophobia: A term that is used as blanket reference for a range of negative attitudes – fear, anger, intolerance, resentment, erasure, discomfort and other similar things – that one may have towards members of the LGBTQI community. It is also used to describe individuals who have such attitudes towards a person who identifies as gay. Although it can be used to denote the phobia towards bisexual and transgender people, there are specific terms to refer to this bias in specific contexts, such as biphobia and transphobia. It can also be experienced inwardly by a person who identifies as queer – and this is called internalized homophobia.
  • Homosexual: A term that is used to denote a person who is primarily emotionally, physically and / or sexually attracted to members of the same sex or gender. The term is considered to be stigmatizing when used, since it was also used to mean a mental illness in medical history. It is generally discouraged for common use. Gay or Lesbian are preferred terms.
  • Idemsexual: A term used to denote the phenomenon of experiencing sexual and platonic feelings in the same way.
  • Idiosexual: A term used to denote the phenomenon of experiencing sexual and romantic feelings in the same way.
  • Intersex: A term used to denote a combination of chromosomes, gonads, hormones, internal sex organs and genitals that are different from the biologically expected patterns of male and female. It used to be called hermaphrodite or hermaphroditic, but both terms are outmoded and are not used anymore – any use of them is considered derogatory.
  • Lesbian: A term used to denote women who have the capacity to be attracted romantically, emotionally or physically to other women.
  • LGBTQIA / GSM / DSG: These are umbrella abbreviations used to denote people who have a non-conformative or queer gender or sexuality, and there are plenty of initial versions of these that people use. LGBTQIA refers to Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender / Transsexual Questioning / Queer Asexual / Aromantic / Agender. GSM refers to gender and sexual minorities. DSG is Diverse Sexualities and Genders. Some of the other initials that are used include GLBT or LGBT, or even QUILTBAG (as a reassemblage of the terms).
  • Lipstick Lesbian: A term used to denote a woman who identifies as a lesbian and has a feminine gender expression. It can be used both, in a positive and in a derogatory manner – and is often used to refer to a lesbian who is either assumed as being heterosexual or is passed off thus.
  • Masculine-of-Center: A word to indicate a range of gender identities and presentations for a person who presents, understands themselves with or relates to others with a masculine way, but doesn’t necessarily identify as a man. They may also identify as butch, stud, aggressive, boi or trans masculine.
  • Masculine-presenting: A term that describes a person who expresses their gender in a masculine way.
  • Metrosexual: A term used to denote a man who has a strong aesthetic sense and spends a lot of time, energy, money and effort on his appearance. That he chooses to groom more than his “gender warrants it” is considered the basis for the classification.
  • MSM: A term used to refer to men who have sex with men. The term is used to differentiate sexual behaviours from sexual identities – i.e., a man who is heterosexual may have sex with men, too.
  • MtF or M2F: An abbreviation of a term used to refer to a male-to-female transgender or transsexual person.
  • Mx or Mix or Schwa: A honorific term that is gender neutral. It is an option used for those who identify beyond the gender binary.
  • Neurosexual: A term used to denote sexual attraction to those who lack gender.
  • Outing: A term used to denote an involuntary disclosure of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.
  • Pansexual: A term used to denote a person who experiences sexual, romantic, emotional, psychological, physical and or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities or expressions. It is also often shortened to “pan.”
  • Passing: A term used to denote people being accepted as or being passed for a member of their self-identified gender identity – regardless of what their sex assigned at birth is, without being identified as trans*. It can also be used to denote a LGBQA person being identified or being assumed to be heterosexual. As a term, passing is rather controversial. There is a greater emphasis and focus on people who observe or interact with the person who is passing – and therefore puts the agency in the hands of the observer than in the hands of the individual concerned. Some people want to pass, some don’t – and so it is important to identify with what they want to make of it – because passing is not always a positive experience. Some individuals experience a sense of erasure owing to being invisible within their own communities when they are perceived as being a part of the dominant group.
  • PGPs: An abbreviation that stands for Preferred Gender Pronouns, used to refer to an individual’s personal preference with respect to the gender pronouns they want to have used for them.
  • Polyamory / Polyamorous; A term used to denote the practice or the desire to or the orientation towards having ethical, honest and consensual non-monogamous relationships – or relationships with multiple partners. They could be open relationships and polyfidelity (more than two people being romantically or sexually involved but not open to new partners).
  • Polysexual: A person who is emotionally and/or physically and/or sexually attracted to multiple sexes and genders (not all)
  • Polysexual: A term used to denote sexual attraction to person of more than two genders but not all genders.
  • QPOC / QTPOC: An abbreviation that is used to denote queer people of colour or queer and trans people of colour.
  • Queer: An umbrella term that is used to describe individuals who do not identify as heterosexual. It can also be used to refer to people who have non-normative gender identities, or even as a political affiliation. Historically, the term has been used derogatorily, and has therefore not been embraced entirely by all members of the LGBTQIA community.
  • Questioning: A term that is used to denote a person who is unsure about their sexual orientation or gender identity, or is exploring their own sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Quoirosexual (or Wtfsexual or Platonisexual): A term used to denote being unable to distinguish the difference between sexual and platonic feelings, or cannot define sexual attraction, therefore do not know whether or not they have experienced it.
  • Reciprosexual: A term used to denote sexual attraction only after the other person is sexually attracted.
  • Requiesexual: A term used to denote having little to no sexual attraction because of some mental or emotional exhaustion, likely due to bad experiences of sexual interaction/sex in the past.
  • Romantic Attraction: a term that is used to denote a capacity to engage in romantic and/or intimate behavior. It can be experienced in varying degrees and is highly personal / subjective. It is often experienced in different degrees, and is often conflated with sexual / emotional / psychological / physical / spiritual attraction.
  • Romantisexual: A term used to denote being unable to distinguish the difference between sexual and romantic feelings, and therefore do not know whether or not they have experienced it.
  • Same Gender Loving: A term that is used to denote a non-heterosexual sexual orientation by some members of the African-American or people of colour without relying on the regular terms and symbols that are associated with European or Western descent.
  • Sex Assigned at Birth: A term used to denote a person’s sex as assigned at birth. It is also called Designated Sex at Birth, or even Sex Coercively Assigned at Birth. Specifically, people also say “assigned female or male at birth.”
  • Sex Reassignment Surgery: A term used by some medical professionals to refer to a group of surgical options that can alter a person’s biological sex. The term gender confirmation surgery is also used as a more affirming term. Sometimes, individuals may have to go through multiple surgical procedures to attain legal recognition of their gender variances. Some also segregate their surgical procedures into categories such as top surgery and bottom surgery, to suggest the type of surgery they are going in for. 
  • Sexual Attraction: A term used to denote the capacity to engage in intimate physical behavior. It is often conflated with romantic / emotional / physical / psychological attraction and is experienced in varying degrees.
  • Sexual Orientation: A term that is used to denote the type of sexual, romantic, emotional or spiritual attraction that one has, as their capacity to feel for others. It is generally labeled as the gender relationship between the person and the people they are attracted to. It is also often confused with sexual preferences
  • Sexual Preference: A term that is used to denote the types of sexual intercourse, stimulation and gratification that a person likes to receive and / or participate / engage in. The term is often used mistakenly to denote sexual orientation – therefore making a mistaken assumption that an individual gets to “choose” who they are attracted to.
  • Skoliosexual: A term used to denote being primarily sexually, romantically or emotionally attracted to gender queer, transgender, transsexual and / or non-binary people.
  • Spiritual Attraction: A term that denotes the capacity of wanting to engage in intimate behavior based on one’s experience with, or interpretation of, or belief in the supernatural. It is also often conflated with sexual attraction / romantic attraction / emotional attraction.
  • Stealth: A term used to denote a trans person who is not “out” as trans, and is perceived by others as cisgender.
  • Stud: A term used to indicate a Black / African-American and/or Latina masculine lesbian / queer woman. The terms butch and aggressive are also used.
  • Third Gender: A term used to denote a person who does not identify with either man or woman, but identifies with another gender. The term is highly subjective in that it is used in communities that generally recognizes that there are more than three genders. 
  • Top surgery: A term used to denote surgical procedures used to construct male chests or to construct breasts for a female chest.
  • Trans man: A term used to denote a person who has adopted a female-to-male transition.
  • Trans woman: A term used to denote a person who has adopted a male-to-female transition.
  • Trans*: A term used to denote a range of identities that transgress “socially defined” gender norms. The use of the asterisk is to suggest (in writing) that there is a reference being made to the larger group of the term, including all of the non-binary identities within the fold.
  • Transgender: A term used to denote a person who lives as and identifies as a member of another gender aside of that which has been assigned at birth based on the assigned / anatomical sex. A transgender person can have any sexual orientation – heterosexual, gay, bisexual, queer, or any other sexual orientation.
  • Transition: A term used to refer to the process that a trans* person undergoes while changing their bodily appearances in order to either be more in line with their gender / sex that they feel they are, and / or to be in harmony with their preferred gender expression.
  • Transphobia: A term used to denote the fear of, or discrimination against, or hatred for the trans* people or trans* community, or for gender ambiguity.
  • Transsexual: A term used to denote a person who identifies psychologically, as being of a gender or sex that is aside of the one they were assigned at birth. They often want to transform their bodies hormonally and surgically to match their inner sense of gender or sex.
  • Transvestite: A term used to denote a person who dresses as the binary opposite gender expression – for anything that ranges from relaxation and fun to sexual gratification.
  • Two-spirit: A term that is used to denote individuals who have qualities or fulfill roles of both genders. The term was traditionally used by Native American people.
  • WSW: A term used to refer to women who have sex with women. The term is used to differentiate sexual behaviours from sexual identities – i.e., a woman who is heterosexual may have sex with women, too.
  • Ze / Zir / Zee & Zerr / Zeer: Terms that are alternate and gender neutral pronouns, and are preferred by some trans* people. The terms are intended to replace he, she, his and hers. Some people prefer to use they / their as a gender neutral single pronoun.

In the Media

Reach
Chennai, India