Reprinted from "LGBT" issue of Visions Journal, 2009, 6 (2), p.35
Allies: heterosexual people who support LGBT rights and gender equality.
Bisexual: someone who is sexually attracted to both men and women, though not necessarily equally.
Coming out: accepting your sexual orientation or gender identity and telling others.
Family of choice: friends, partners and others who provide a sense of belonging.
Gay: describes someone who is primarily attracted to people of the same gender. It can refer to both men and women, though women may prefer “lesbian.”
Gender: roles and behaviours that society attributes to men and women. For example, “masculine” and “feminine” describe gender traits. Gender attributes may be different in different societies or cultures.
Gender identity: how you see your own gender. For example, masculine, feminine, transgender and two-spirit describe how you see your gender and may be different from your physical anatomy.
Gender non-conforming: describes people who don’t adhere to the gender expectations of their sex. They may or may not be LGBT or two-spirited.
Heterosexual: describes someone who is primarily attracted to people of the opposite gender.
Homosexual: describes someone who is primarily attracted to people of the same gender.
Identity: How you see yourself and think of yourself.
Intersex: A person with a mix of male and female sex features.
Lesbian: describes women who are primarily attracted to other women or women who identify with the lesbian community.
LGBT: A common acronym for lesbian (L), gay (G), bisexual (B), transgender and transsexual (T) people, though the letters can be arranged in any order. The acronym may also be written to explicitly include two-spirit (often T, TS or 2), intersex (I), queer (Q) or questioning (Q or ?) people. For example, LGBTTTIQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, intersex and queer. If applicable, it can also include straight allies (A or SA).
Queer: originally a hurtful term for LGBT people, but some have reclaimed it and use it proudly. Some transpeople identity as queer, but others do not.
Sex: the physical features that determine if you are biologically female, male or intersex.
Sexual identity: how you identify your own sexual orientation.
Sexual orientation: describes your attraction to other people. Examples of sexual orientation include homosexuality, bisexuality and heterosexuality.
Transgender: describes someone who feels like their sex is different from their physical sex features, whether or not they make changes to their physical bodies and identities. The term “transgender” can also include transsexual, transvestite, two-spirit and intersex people.
Transsexual: describes someone who feels like their sex is different from their physical sex characteristics, and medically and legally changes their public identity to match their self-identity.
Two-Spirit: describes Aboriginal or other indigenous people who have “two sprits” or multiple genders. For more on the history of two-spirited people, see www.dancingtoeaglespiritsociety.org/twospirit.php.
These are basic definitions, meant to briefly orientate readers to the terms.