Terminology

Many terms are associated with sexual and gender identities, and terminology continues to evolve. Below are some of the terms currently used by the Division of Adolescent and School Health.  This list and the definitions offered may change over time.

Bisexual: A person who is attracted to both people of their own gender and other genders.

Cisgender: Individuals whose current gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth.

Gay: A person who is attracted primarily to members of the same gender. Gay is most frequently used to describe men who are attracted primarily to other men, although it can be used for men and women.

Gender: The cultural roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes expected of people based on their sex.

Gender Expression: How an individual chooses to present their gender to others through physical appearance and behaviors, such as style of hair or dress, voice, or movement.

Gender Identity: An individual’s sense of their self as man, woman, transgender, or something else.

Gender Minority: Individuals whose gender identity (man, women, other) or expression (masculine, feminine, other) is different from their sex (male, female) assigned at birth.

Gender Nonbinary: Individuals who do not identify their gender as man or woman.  Other terms to describe this identity include genderqueer, agender, bigender, gender creative, etc.

Gender Nonconforming: The state of one’s physical appearance or behaviors not aligning with societal expectations of their gender (a feminine boy, a masculine girl, etc.).

Heterosexual or Straight: A man who is primarily attracted to women or a woman who is primarily attracted to men.

Lesbian: A woman who is primarily attracted to other women.

LGBTQ: Acronym that refers to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning community.

Queer: An umbrella term sometimes used to refer to the entire LGBT community.

Questioning: For some, the process of exploring and discovering one’s own sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Sex: An individual’s biological status as male, female, or something else.  Sex is assigned at birth and associated with physical attributes, such as anatomy and chromosomes.

Sexual Minority: Individuals who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, or who are attracted to or have sexual contact with people of the same gender.

Sexual Orientation: Refers to a person’s sexual and emotional attraction to another person and the behavior and/or social affiliation that may result from this attraction (lesbian, gay, bisexual, etc.)

SGM: Acronym for sexual and gender minorities.

SGMY: Acronym for sexual and gender minority youth.

SMY: Acronym for sexual minority youth.

Transgender: Individuals whose current gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.

* Terms listed are referenced from APA’s Definitions Related to Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversitypdf iconexternal icon and the World Health Organization’s glossary of terms and toolsexternal icon.