What you can do

Glossary of terms

Ally - a (typically) straight and/or cis person who supports members of the LGBT community.

Asexual (or ace) - someone who does not experience sexual attraction

Bisexual or Bi – refers to a person who has an emotional and/or sexual orientation towards more than one gender.

Biphobia - the fear or dislike of someone who identifies as bi.

Cisgender or Cis – someone whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth. Non-trans is also used by some people.

Coming out – when a person first tells someone/others about their identity as lesbian, gay, bi or trans.

Deadnaming - is calling someone by their birth name after they have changed their name. This term is often associated with trans people who have changed their name as part of their transition.

Gay – refers to a man who has an emotional, romantic and/or sexual orientation towards men. Also a generic term for lesbian and gay sexuality - some women define themselves as gay rather than lesbian.

Gender dysphoria – used to describe when a person experiences discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between their sex assigned at birth and their gender identity. This is also the clinical diagnosis for someone who doesn’t feel comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth.

Gender identity - a person’s internal sense of their own gender, whether male, female or something else (see non-binary below).

Gender reassignment – another way of describing a person’s transition. To undergo gender reassignment usually means to undergo some sort of medical intervention, but it can also mean changing names, pronouns, dressing differently and living in their self-identified gender. Gender reassignment is a characteristic that is protected by the Equality Act 2010.

Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) – this enables trans people to be legally recognised in their self-identified gender and to be issued with a new birth certificate.  Not all trans people will apply for a GRC and you have to be over 18 to apply.  You do not need a GRC to change your gender at work or to legally change your gender on other documents such as your passport. 

Gender stereotypes - the ways that we expect people to behave in society according to their gender, or what is commonly accepted as ‘normal’ for someone of that gender.

Gender variant –someone who does not conform to the gender roles and behaviours assigned to them at birth. This is often used in relation to children or young people.

Heterosexual / Straight - refers to a person who has an emotional, romantic and/or sexual orientation towards people of the opposite gender.

Homosexual – this might be considered a more medical term used to describe someone who has an emotional romantic and/or sexual orientation towards someone of the same gender. The term ‘gay’ is now more generally used.

Homophobia - the fear or dislike of someone who identifies as lesbian or gay.

Intersex – a term used to describe a person who may have the biological attributes of both sexes or whose biological attributes do not fit with societal assumptions about what constitutes male or female. Intersex people can identify as male, female or non-binary.

Lesbian – refers to a woman who has an emotional, romantic and/or sexual orientation towards women.

LGBT – the acronym for lesbian, gay, bi and trans.

Non-binary – an umbrella term for a person who does not identify as male or female.

Outed – when a lesbian, gay, bi or trans person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is disclosed to someone else without their consent.

Pansexual - refers to a person who is not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender or gender identity.

Pronoun – words we use to refer to people’s gender in conversation - for example, ‘he’ or ‘she’. Some people may prefer others to refer to them in gender neutral language and use pronouns such as they / their and ze / zir.

Queer – in the past a derogatory term for LGBT individuals. The term has now been reclaimed by LGBT young people in particular who don’t identify with traditional categories around gender identity and sexual orientation but is still viewed to be derogatory by some.

Questioning – the process of exploring your own sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Sex –assigned to a person on the basis of primary sex characteristics (genitalia) and reproductive functions. Sometimes the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are interchanged to mean ‘male’ or ‘female’.

Sexual orientation – a person’s emotional, romantic and/or sexual attraction to another person.

Trans – an umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth. Trans people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including (but not limited to) transgender, cross dresser, non-binary, genderqueer (GQ).

Transgender man – a term used to describe someone who is assigned female at birth but identifies and lives as a man. This may be shortened to trans man, or FTM, an abbreviation for female-to-male.

Transgender woman – a term used to describe someone who is assigned male at birth but identifies and lives as a woman. This may be shortened to trans woman, or MTF, an abbreviation for male-to-female.

Transitioning – the steps a trans person may take to live in the gender with which they identify. Each person’s transition will involve different things. For some this involves medical intervention, such as hormone therapy and surgeries, but not all trans people want or are able to have this. Transitioning also might involve things such as telling friends and family, dressing differently and changing official documents.

Transphobia - the fear or dislike of someone who identifies as trans.

Transsexual – this was used in the past as a more medical term (similarly to homosexual) to refer to someone who transitioned to live in the ‘opposite’ gender to the one assigned at birth. This term is still used by some although many people prefer the term trans or transgender.