Here is SlutBox’s quick and dirty dictionary to understanding queer lingo, terminology, and slang.
ALLY – Noun
An ally is a straight and/or cisgender person who supports equal civil rights, gender equality, LGBTQIA+ social movements and queer folx, and challenges homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.
AGENDER – Noun/Adjective
Literally translates to “without gender.” An umbrella term that encompasses folx who: have no gender, identify as gender neutral, have a neutral gender, have an undefinable gender, or decide not to label their gender. Many Agender people also identify as genderqueer, non-binary, and/or transgender. Agender people can present in any way – masculine, feminine, both, or neither. Agender people can be of any sexuality, and should not be confused with being asexual.
ANDROGYNY – Noun/Adjective
Androgyny is the combination of masculine and feminine characteristics. Used to describe characters or persons who have no specific gender or who are ambiguous. Famous examples of androgynous style include: Grace Jones, David Bowie, Boy George, Prince, and Kristen Stewart.
ASEXUAL – Adjective
Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction to others, or low or absent interest in or desire for sexuality activity. It can be considered either a lack of sexual orientation, or a separate variation of sexual orientation. Some asexual people engage in sexual activity despite lacking sexual attraction or a desire for sex, due to a variety of reasons, such as a desire to please themselves or romantic partners, or a desire to have children.
BISEXUAL – Noun
A romantic and/or sexual attraction toward both males and females, or a romantic and/or sexual attraction to people of any sex or gender identity (also termed Pansexual). Bisexual people do not necessarily experience equal attraction to both sexes.
CISGENDER – Noun
(Often abbreviated to cis). A term for people whose gender identity and performance of gender roles matches the sex that they were assigned at birth.
DRAG – Noun
Refers to the exaggerated or heightened performance of gender. Historically understood as the act of cis men dressing and performing as women, modern drag includes folx of all genders performing all genders. “Drag Queen” refers to a person performing a heightened spectacle of femininity, while “Drag King” refers to a person performing a heightened spectacle of masculinity. The term first appeared in print as early as 1870, and some posit that Shakespeare actually coined the term, as an abbreviation for “dressed as a girl.”
GAY – Adjective/Noun
A term that refers to a homosexual person. Originally used to mean “carefree,” “happy” or “bright and showy,” the term began to be used in reference to homosexuality as early as the late 19th century. In the 1960s, “Gay” became the term favored by homosexual men to describe their sexual orientation.
GENDER DYSPHORIA – Noun
The distress a person experiences when the gender they were assigned with at birth does not match that person’s true gender identity.
GENDERQUEER – Adjective
(Also termed Non-Binary or Enby). A catch-all category for gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine. Describes identities which lie outside the gender binary and cisnormativity. Genderqueer people may express a combination of masculinity and femininity, or neither masculinity nor femininity, in their gender expression. Genderqueer people may identify as either having an overlap of gender identities, having two or more genders, moving between genders (genderfluid) or being third gendered or other-gendered (a category which includes those who do not place a name to their gender). Gender identity is separate from sexual or romantic orientation, and genderqueer people have a variety of sexual orientations, just as transgender and cisgender people do!
INTERSEX – Noun/Adjective
People born with any of several variations in sex characteristics including: chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals that do not fit the typical definitions for male or female bodies. Many intersex people face stigmatization and discrimination from birth, including infanticide, abandonment, and estrangement from families and friends. Globally, many intersex children and infants are surgically or hormonally altered (before the age of consent) to create more cisnormative, “acceptable” outer sex characteristics – more recently, these issues are considered human rights abuses.
LESBIAN – Noun
A homosexual woman. The word Lesbian is derived from the name of the Greek isle of Lesob, home to the 6th-century BCE poet Sappho, who is perhaps the first recorded lesbian in history.
LGBTQIA+ – Adjective
An abbreviation that stands for “Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer/Questioning Intersex Agender/Asexual/Allied +”
PRIDE – Noun
Gay Pride refers to a global movement and philosophy asserting that LGBTQIA+ individuals should be PROUD of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The modern Gay Pride movement began after the Stonewall Riots of the late 1960s. In June of 1970, the first pride parade in the US commemorated the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Common symbols of Pride are the rainbow pride flag, the lowercase Greek letter lambda, and the pink and black triangles (these two symbols were reclaimed from use as badges of shame in Nazi concentration camps).
QUEER – Noun/Adjective
An umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities who are not heterosexual and/or cisgender. Originally meaning “strange,” “peculiar” or “suspicious,” queer began to be used as a derogatory term against gay people in the late 19th century. The term was reclaimed in the late 1980s to describe a separate, more inclusive and radical identity separate from the Gay identity.
TRANSGENDER – Noun / Adjective
(Often abbreviated to trans). An umbrella term for people whose gender identity or gender expression differs from their sex as assigned at birth. The term Transgender includes people whose gender identity is the opposite of their assigned sex (trans men and trans women) as well as people who are genderqueer or non-binary, or agender. Many trans folx experience gender dysphoria, and seek treatments such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT), gender-affirming surgeries, and psychotherapy. Not all trans people have access to these treatments, or even desire them. Again, gender identity is separate from sexual or romantic orientation, and transgender people have a variety of sexual orientations, just as transgender and cisgender people do!
TWO-SPIRIT- Proper Noun
A modern umbrella term used by some indigenous North Americans to describe certain people in their communities who fulfill a traditional third-gender (or other gender-variant) ceremonial role in their cultures. Two-Spirit is not interchangeable with “LGBT,” “gay” or “queer” as it refers to a sacred, spiritual and ceremonial role that is recognized and confirmed by community Elders.