Check out our terminology bank to learn more about the terms, identities, and language used within 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.
The term "Two-Spirit" originated in Winnipeg, Canada in 1990 during the third annual intertribal Native American/First Nations gay and lesbian conference. It comes from the Ojibwe words niizh manitoag (two-spirits), that is reflective of the history and complex understandings of gender roles, spirituality, and sexual and gender diversity in Indigenous cultures.
A sexual orientation that describes a woman who is romantically and/or sexually attracted to other women, whether the women are Two-Spirit, trans, intersex, gender-diverse,or cisgender.
A sexual orientation that describes someone who is sexually and/or romantically attracted to people of their own gender. The term can be used regardless of gender identity but is commonly used to describe men who date other men, i.e. gay men.
Bisexual+ refers to folks who are attracted to two or more genders. The term extends to individuals who identify as pansexual, polysexual, bi-aromantic, and bi-ace.
Trans is 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, transfemme, transmasc, non-binary, or genderqueer.
Queer has different meanings to different people. Some people view the term queer to be more inclusive and political than more traditional categories of sexual orientation, while other people do not use the word to self-identify because of its historical context as a derogatory slu
The plus symbol is used to indicate the vast array of identities under the 2SLGBTQ+ umbrella, including, but not limited to, intersex, Indigiqueer, asexual, agender, pansexual, non-binary, and so many more.
A form of discrimination against people either with, or perceived to have, disabilities. It is embedded in the way society is structured to accommodate able-bodied people’s needs and without Disabled People in mind. See Disability and Neurodivergence.
Refers to someone who is healthy and has no illness, injury, or condition that makes it difficult to do things, access systems, and resources.
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
AIDS is the result of HIV left untreated. AIDS occurs when the body’s immune system is no longer able to fight infection as a result of having HIV. Historically HIV/AIDS has been used to stigmatize and fuel prejudice against communities at high risk for HIV/AIDS the 2SLGBTQ+ community being one of them.
Pronouns that validate and honour someone’s gender expression or identity. ‘Affirmed’ has replaced ‘preferred’ when discussing pronouns. ‘Preferred’ has come to be understood as an outdated term, as it implies gender identity is a choice rather than what it actually is: a lived
reality. In most day to day instances, you can just say “pronouns” without a qualifier: e.g., “Do you know what Max’s pronouns are?”
A form of discrimination based on negative attitudes and stereotypes about the aging population. It also involves the way that society is structured based on the needs of young people and thereby failing to respond appropriately to the needs of aging individuals.
Someone who does not identify as having a particular gender or who feels an absence of gender. Refers to a person who does not identify with or experience any gender. Agender is different from nonbinary because many nonbinary people do experience gender.
A term to describe a non-autistic person.
Refers to an individual who experiences romantic attraction. It is possible to be alloromantic but not allosexual.
Refers to an individual who experiences sexual attraction of any kind. Allosexual people are not limited by their sexual orientation, the term simply defines the ability to experience sexual attraction.
An ally is someone who supports the autonomy, agency, and livelihood of equity-deserving groups and acts in ways that demonstrate their solidarity to those groups. This is not a self-identified title, and is an ongoing process.
Some people use more than one set of pronouns. This can look like ‘she/they’ or using two sets such as ‘he/him’ and ‘they/them.’ Each person will have different ways in which their pronouns should be used, with some prioritizing one set over the other, or using different pronouns in different situations (such as with individuals the person might not be out to). Never assume pronoun use, and let each person show or tell you the way in which their pronouns should be used.
Having physical elements of both femininity and masculinity, whether expressed through sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Androgyne (pronounced an-druh-jain ) is another term for an androgynous individual.
Refers to a romantic orientation on the aromantic spectrum. It can be defined as 1) a romantic orientation that fluctuates, but always stays on the aromantic spectrum. Or 2) a romantic orientation that fluctuates between being alloromantic (see: Alloromantic), completely aromantic, and/or somewhere in between. Aroflux people can be romance repulsed, indifferent/neutral/apathetic towards romance, or romance positive. They can have any sexual orientation.
Aromantic / Aro
A term describing someone who does not experience romantic attraction and/or doesn’t find romantic relationships desirable. Aromantic people may also be asexual, though they are two separate identities.
Asexual / Ace
An umbrella term to describe someone who is on a spectrum of experiencing little to no sexual attraction regardless of gender. Asexual people may also be aromantic, however they are two separate identities. Examples of identities which may fall along the asexual spectrum are demisexual and gray-asexual.
Assigned Female at Birth (AFAB)
(pronounced ā-fab) A term used to describe people who were designated female on their birth certificate at the time of their birth.
Assigned Male at Birth (AMAB)
(pronounced ā-mab) A term used to describe people who were designated male on their birth certificate at the time of their birth.
The sex assigned to an infant at birth based on the child’s visible sex organs, including genitalia and other physical characteristics.
The gender assumed about an individual, based on their assigned sex as well as apparent societal gender markers and expectations, such as physical attributes and expressed characteristics. Examples of assuming a person’s gender include using pronouns for a person before learning what pronouns they use, or calling a person a man or a woman without knowing their gender.
A term some Autistic folks use to describe their gender identity and how it is interconnected with and inseparable from their autism. See also Neurogender.
A term of significance in queer men’s histories. An identity held by queer men and mascs that embraces masculinity as a form of ‘homomasculinity.’ The bear community celebrates traits such as brawniness, body hair, beards, and large bodies of all types by providing a place of acceptance and celebration for those that may not fit into more mainstream stereotypes of queer maleness.
A term used to identify a person whose gender identity encompasses two genders, (often man and woman, but not exclusively) or is moving between being two genders.
The process of tightly wrapping someone’s chest or wearing a binder to reduce Gender Dysphoria and minimize the appearance of breasts.
Short for biological essentialism. Reliance or weaponization of biology in an attempt to disprove trans people’s genders. Common bioessentialist arguments reduce people to their chromosomes (though there are more than 30 chromosome combinations that people have); their genitalia (though there are many natural variations; or their binary gender (though gender and sex are not binary).
Refers to anatomical, physiological, genetic, or physical attributes that determine if a person is male, female, or intersex. These include both primary and secondary sex characteristics, including genitalia, gonads, hormone levels, hormone receptors, chromosomes, and genes. Often also referred to as “sex,” “physical sex,” “anatomical sex,” or specifically as “sex assigned at birth.” Biological sex is often conflated or interchanged with gender, which is more societal than biological, and involves personal identity factors.
Following guidance from The Pocket Doula (Anna Balagtas) we use the acronym BIPGM, which stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of the Global Majority.
BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Pronounced “bye-pock,” this is a term intended to center the experiences of Black and Indigenous groups and demonstrate solidarity between communities of color.
Animosity, hatred, or dislike of bisexual people which may manifest in the form of prejudice or bias. Biphobia often stems from lack of knowledge about bisexual people and the issues they face, and can sometimes be alleviated with education and support. PFLAG does not use this term as it frequently prevents such educational dialogue. Related to homophobia and transphobia.
Bisexual+ / Bi+
Bisexual+ refers to folks who are attracted to two or more genders. The term extends to individuals who identify as pansexual, polysexual, bi-aromantic, and bi-ace.
Refers to an individual who acknowledges in themselves the potential to be romantically attracted to people of more than one gender, not necessarily at the same time, in the same way, or to the same degree. Individuals who identify as biromantic aren't necessarily sexually attracted to the same people to whom they're romantically attracted.
Surgery performed on an individual’s reproductive system as a part of gender-affirming surgery. Not all trans people undergo medical interventions as part of their transition. As with any other aspect of transition, trans people retain the right not to discuss their surgical history, and surgery does not define gender.
A person who is masculine of center in dress, attitude, and/or presentation. It is often, but not exclusively, used in a lesbian context. Often on a spectrum from butch to femme or stud to femme.
Also known as found family, people who support an 2SLGBTQ+ person, who are not biologically related, and who often fill the role of the biological family if an 2SLGBTQ+ person’s family is not supportive of them.
Cisgender / Cis
A term to describe a person whose gender identity corresponds to the gender assigned on their original birth certificate (i.e. someone who is not trans or gender-diverse). Cisgender people identify as either male or female / man or woman. Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer individuals may or may not identify as cisgender.
A patriarchal system that normalizes and privileges those who are cisgender and heterosexual. It also centers the gender binary where there are only two gender options of male and female.
Cis Man / Cisgender Man
Someone who was assigned male at birth and identifies as a man.
The privilege received when a person’s gender identity or expression matches their sex assigned at birth. For example, they are not denied access to health care, discriminated against in the workplace due to their gender identity, misgendered when addressed or spoken about, questioned about their gender, asked what their "real" name is, or fearful of violence because of their identity.
Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination on the basis of sex, specifically towards transgender and gender-expansive people.
Cis Woman / Cisgender Woman
Someone who was assigned female at birth and identifies as a woman.
Prejudice and discrimination against or in favour of people belonging to a particular social class.
Describes a person who is not open about their sexual orientation or gender identity. A closeted person may be referred to as being “in the closet.” There are many degrees to being out/closeted; closeted individuals may be out to just themselves, close friends, or to their larger network, or not publicly open about their status as 2SLGBTQ+ people.
The process and practice of domination, control, and forced subjugation of one people over another. In the context of Turtle Island (specifically so-called Canada), European settlers began the process of the colonization of Indigenous Peoples as early as the 1600s and continuing to this day. These colonization practices include violent assimilation tactics such as the residential school system and the 60’s Scoop, policies that prohibited cultural roles and practices (including the attempted erasure of Two-Spirit folk), and limiting or criminalizing access to land and resources.
Prejudice or discrimination against individuals with darker skin tones, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.
For 2SLGBTQ+ people, coming out is the process of self-identifying and self-acceptance that entails the sharing of their identity with others. Sometimes referred to as disclosing. Individuals often recognize a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/gender-expansive, or queer identity within themselves first, and then might choose to reveal it to others. There are many different degrees of being out, and coming out is a lifelong process. Coming out can be an incredibly personal and transformative experience. It is critical to respect where each person is within their process of self-identification, and up to each person, individually, to decide if and when and to whom to come out or disclose.
A group of people who share similar experiences based on characteristics, geographical location, attitudes, interests, goals, and more.
Contraceptives / Birth Control
The use of medicines, devices, or surgery to prevent pregnancy. Contraceptives can be immediate, medium-acting, or long-acting methods of birth control.
CPATH (Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health)
A group of Canadian health care professionals who seek to discuss and advance trans health care research. For patient referral letters, note that CPATH letters are also accepted by Medicare for approval.
Culturally-Focused Health Care
An approach which integrates the culture and language of all involved, focusing on the patient and emphasizing cultural indicators of respect. This creates a partnership between the patient and the primary care provider (PCP), increasing trust as the provider is aware of and knowledgeable about their patient’s culture, understands the difference between culture and pathology, and integrates those concepts into their care of the patient.
Occurs when an individual, intentionally or not, refers to the name that a transgender or gender-expansive individual used at a different time in their life. Avoid this practice, as it can cause trauma, stress, embarrassment, and even danger. Some may prefer the terms birth name, given name, or old name.
The practice of intentional, meaningful, and ongoing commitment to Indigenous sovereignty and well-being. Settlers on Turtle Island (or so-called North America) have a unique responsibility to actively dismantle the systems of colonization that they benefit from every day. Decolonization should not be an add-on or after-thought, it should be a substantial foundation that is integrated into everyday practice.
Decolonization practices can include (but are not limited to) supporting Indigenous activism, platforming Indigenous voices, and educating oneself on Indigenous topics using resources by Indigenous authors.
A person whose gender identity is only partly male, regardless of their assigned sex at birth.
A person whose gender identity is only partly female, regardless of their assigned sex at birth.
Used to describe an individual who experiences romantic attraction only after forming an emotional connection.
Demisexual / Demi
A sexual orientation that describes someone who is only sexually attracted to someone with whom they already have a close emotional connection; sometimes considered to fall under the asexual umbrella.
A person having a physical or mental condition that limits their ability to participate with the world around them. There are different types of disabilities such as physical, cognitive, and intellectual.
A disability is any condition of the body or mind that makes it more difficult for the person to do certain activities and interact with the world around them.
DIY "Do It Yourself" transition is a movement among some trans and gender diverse folk for bypassing formal care systems and instead self administering hormones. This kind of DIY, or do-it-yourself, transition sits at the heart of trans history.
The theatrical performance of one or multiple genders (often including makeup, costume, dance, lip-syncing, and temporary body modifications). Performers who present in a feminine manner are called Drag Queens, while performers who present in a masculine manner are called Drag Kings. These performances often push traditional boundaries of gender presentation, calling into question societally defined gender roles. Drag performance refers to expression and performance, which is different from transgender, which refers to gender identity.
A lesbian. This term has been reclaimed by lesbians as a positive and political term, but can still be used as an insult. It should not be used by those outside of the community it historically refers to.
Having qualities or an appearance stereotypically associated with women or conventionally regarded as female.
Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of equality of the sexes that began in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Current feminists advocate for all genders to have equal rights and opportunities. Feminism historically has been exclusionary of different experiences of womanhood especially trans and BIPGM women.
An advocate of women’s rights related to supporting feminism.
A gender identity connected to the feminine part of the gender spectrum. Also a term of significance in queer women’s histories used to describe gender expression and/or social and relationship roles that embrace femininity, often as a method of subverting prescribed gender roles as a means of resistance.
An alternative spelling to folks, pronounced the same way. While folx is viewed by some as a more inclusive version of the word folks, both are gender-neutral ways of addressing a group of people.
This is an older term that many people still use to self-identify as someone who is transitioning or has transitioned from female-to-male, or in other words, a trans man.
A genderqueer or gender-expansive person assigned female at birth.
Gaffs are a special type of underwear that compresses the body with the purpose of minimizing the appearance of a crotch or bulge. It can allow for anyone with a penis who is looking to have a smoother, more affirming appearance of the pelvic area.
A form of manipulation to gain power by challenging the validity of someone’s personal experience, intending for them to question themself, and their mental soundness In a medical setting, this happens when a patient's concerns are not believed, dismissed or deemed insignificant, or are labeled a psychological rather than biological problem.
Intentional or unintentional exclusionary measures that restrict who “is” and who “is not” allowed opportunities. In a health care setting, this is when PCPs create unnecessary and unfair hurdles for those accessing care, for example, requiring Two-Spirit, trans, Indigiqueer, and gender-diverse (2STIGD) patients to “prove” their gender diversity in order to access gender-affirming care. See Gatekeeping and Bias.
A sexual orientation that describes someone who is sexually and/or romantically attracted to people of their own gender. The term can be used regardless of gender identity but is commonly used to describe men who date other men, i.e. gay men.
Any number of garments and/or physical aides used in affirming someone’s gender. Most commonly, gender affirming garments might refer to binders, bras, and breast forms, and may also be used to refer to wigs, gaffs (compression underwear that assists in ‘tucking’ the penis to make it appear flatter), packers (penile prosthetics to simulate a bulge when wearing clothing or underwear), and other textiles, garments, and/or accessories.
Gender-Affirming Health Care
An approach which is patient-centered, falling into two distinct branches: delivering transition-related care, as well as addressing all the other primary care needs of 2STIGD patients in a way that is sensitive to the unique needs of these individuals and affirming of their gender identity.
Gender-Affirming Hormone Therapy (GAHT) / Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Refers to a life-saving and life-affirming treatment process for people seeking to physically change their bodies to fit their gender identities. Estrogen HRT and testosterone HRT are two types of hormone therapy. HRT and GAHT can be interchangeable terms; however, GAHT is more specific to 2STIGD people because HRT can refer to cisgender people. See Part 4: GAHT (Gender-Affirming Hormone Therapy).
Refers to a number of life-saving and life-affirming surgeries for people seeking to physically change their bodies to fit their gender identities. Notably, not all 2STIGD people choose gender-affirming surgeries for various reasons.
The ideological concept and belief that there are only two genders, male and female, and that a person must neatly fit into one category or the other.
An umbrella term that is used to describe gender identities beyond the binary framework. This includes, but is not limited to, trans, non-binary, agender, and gender fluid folks.
The internalized conflict and distress experienced by an individual whose gender assigned at birth does not align with their affirmed gender. ‘Gender dysphoria’ replaced what used to be referred to as ‘gender identity disorder’ (‘GID’) in the DSM-5. ‘Gender identity disorder’ is considered outdated and offensive, as it involves diagnosing a trans person with a disorder simply for being trans. ‘Gender dysphoria’ is generally viewed as more appropriate, but there are many trans folk and their allies who believe the diagnosis is still problematic. ‘Gender dysphoria’ may also be used outside of a clinical setting by trans and non-binary individuals to describe their own feelings of incongruence, however it should be noted that not all trans and nonbinary individuals experience dysphoria.
A casual term primarily used by transgender people to describe an individual they aspire to be like. It often refers to having envy for an individual’s expression of gender (for example, wanting the physical features, voice, mannerisms, style, etc., of a specific gender). Gender Envy is sometimes experienced by people expressing themselves outside society’s gender stereotypes.
A term used to describe the feeling of joy brought on by gender-affirming experiences, such as new clothing, name change, pronoun use, or seeing media representation that aligns with how one sees themselves.
An umbrella term for those who do not follow gender stereotypes, or who expand ideas of gender expression or gender identity. Gender expansive does NOT mean non-binary and cisgender people can be gender expansive as well. It is important to respect and use the terms people use for themselves, regardless of any prior associations or ideas about those terms. While some parents and allies use the term, gender non-conforming is the preferred term by the LGBTQ+ community. It is important to use the term preferred by an individual with whom you are interacting.
How a person chooses to express their gender through behavior, hair, clothing, make-up, etc. Gender expression is not the same as gender identity. The way someone presents themselves to the world around them can be fluid and can change over time, day to day, or situationally. Everyone expresses their gender in some way, whether they are Two-Spirit, trans, Indigiqueer, gender-diverse, or cisgender.
Gender Fluid / Gender-Fluid / Genderfluid
Someone whose gender identity is not fixed, and may shift through a binary and/or non-binary framework.
A person’s internal sense of their gender or who they know themselves to be (i.e. a man or woman, both, neither, or another gender).
A term to refer to language and ways of being that are not explicitly gendered. This can mean using gender-neutral language such as “folks” or “all” instead of “guys'' or “ladies and gentlemen.” It can also mean not prescribing gender to things that are not inherently masculine or feminine, i.e. behaviors, activities, clothing, body parts, etc.
A term to describe a person whose behavior, appearance, or characteristics do not conform to the prevailing gender norms or social expectations of what is appropriate for a masculine or feminine identified person.
Similar to gender fluid, this term describes a person whose gender identity is not solely male or female. Genderqueer can describe a person who “queers” gender, meaning their gender can shift and change at any given time.
A term describing how people are expected to behave (including dress, approach to sexual relationships, and more) based on their perceived gender. Gender roles are rooted in gender norms, which is a social code for restricting gender identities into what is considered to be socially acceptable.
Gray-Asexuality / Graysexual
A sexual orientation that describes someone who rarely experiences sexual attraction, often only under specific circumstances, or who fluctuates between periods of experiencing and not experiencing sexual attraction.
Refers to an individual whose romantic orientation is somewhere between aromantic and romantic. A gray-romantic person may experience romantic attraction but not very often. Or they may experience romantic attraction, but not desire romantic relationships.
A set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative health, social and legal impacts associated with drug use, sex work, eating disorders, self-harm, etc., without requiring abstinence from the behaviour itself.
A straight person who is most often attracted to people of a different gender from themselves but sometimes experiences attraction to people of the same gender as them. It is distinct from bisexuality. The term can have negative connotations of experimentation or indecision.
The assumption that heterosexuality (including heterosexual people) is the default and the standard for defining “normal” sexual, cultural, and social behavior, resulting in heterosexual privilege.
Refers to a person who is sexually attracted to a person of a different gender or sex. Also referred to as straight.
Prejudice, discrimination, or bias against queer or gay people from heterosexual people based on the belief that heterosexuality is normal, natural, and innate.
An irrational and systematic hatred of or aversion to queer people or people who are perceived as such.
Also referred to as Puberty Blockers, this is a form of gender-affirming medical care which allows young trans and gender-expansive people to prevent the potentially negative outcomes of going through a puberty that does not match their gender identity.
The underground subculture consists of mainly Black and Latinx members of the LGBTQ+ community who ‘walk’ to earn recognition and awards within their community. ‘Houses’ are chosen families that individuals compete with and often live with. These categories represent the barriers that Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPOC) face in accessing formal employment, housing, and public services.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV is a virus that affects the cells in the human body that help fight infection. Historically HIV/AIDS has been used to stigmatize and fuel prejudice against communities at high risk for HIV/AIDS the 2SLGBTQ+ community being one of them.
Indigiqueer / Indigequeer:
A term coined by Thirza Cuthand to title the Vancouver Queer Film Festival’s Indigenous/Two-Spirit program in 2004. They used it as a way to acknowledge that not all LGBTQIAA+ Indigenous People feel that Two-Spirit describes their identity. It’s sometimes used alongside the Two-Spirit identity, but is used more often by those who do not identify as Two-Spirit as a way to describe the intersection of being queer and Indigenous.
Treating someone like a child or in a way that invalidates, ignores or denies their autonomy, maturity, age and experience. It is a disrespectful and emotionally damaging experience for many Autistic and Neurodivergent individuals.
In health care, this is when a provider outlines details about risks, benefits, and alternatives of a procedure or intervention and allows the patient to make a decision based on all the information presented.
Trauma experienced by a person or group of people that gets passed down through subsequent generations, and can occur from a single traumatic event (e.g. an assault), a repetitive traumatic experience (e.g. poverty, domestic violence), or within the context of historical trauma, as it is often used in contexts discussing Indigenous Peoples in relation to their historic and current mistreatment in Canada.
This includes, but is not limited to, internalized ableism, ageism, classism, homophobia, misogyny, racism, sexism, transphobia, and xenophobia. It should be noted that systems of oppression have caused internalized phobias not just for those outside of individual communities, but for those within communities as well.
This can result in gatekeeping (for example, biphobia within the queer community, or nonbinary exclusion within the trans community), lateral violence within communities, and negative mental health outcomes impacting one’s own self-worth. Particularly within gender-affirming care, it is important to carefully navigate conversations where patients may struggle with this internally, as 2STIGD patients may be navigating internalized transphobia even as they are seeking gender-affirming care.
A Black feminist theoretical framework with origins as early as the 1850s. Officially coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, intersectionality refers to the complex, cumulative way in which an individual's unique identities combine, overlap, or intersect to produce the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, classism, etc.).
Intersex is an umbrella term for differences in sex traits or reproductive anatomy. Intersex people may be born with these differences or develop them in childhood. There are many possible differences in genitalia, hormones, internal anatomy, or chromosomes, compared to the more common two ways that human bodies develop.
(Pronounced Latin-ex or la-TEEN-ex) A gender-neutral term--sometimes used in place of the gendered, binary terms Latino or Latina--used to describe a person of Latin American origin or descent. Some use the term Latine (la-TEEN-eh) as a gender neutral term for Latino or Latina.
A sexual orientation that describes a woman who is romantically and/or sexually attracted to other women, whether the women are 2STGD or cisgender.
Masculine / Masc
Having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with men or conventionally regarded as male.
Male-to-Female (MTF/ M2F)
This is an older term that many people still use to self-identify as someone who is transitioning or has transitioned from male-to-female, or in other words, a trans woman.
Masking (or Camouflaging)
A term to describe when a Neurodivergent person develops coping mechanisms to appear neurotypical in social settings.This may be conscious or subconscious. Oftentimes folks do this in social environments to avoid ostracization from peers, colleagues and within other systems of power where they may feel unsafe while being themselves. Masking is extremely exhausting and can lead to burnout.
The partner of your partner. Typically used in polyamorous relationships and/or polycules to refer to the other people your partner is in relationships with that you yourself are not intimately involved with. E.g., person A is dating both person B and person C. Person B and person C are not dating each other and are therefore metamours.
An action or statement that is subtle, unintentional, or indirect causing discomfort or harm to whom it is directed. Most often experienced by those belonging to marginalized groups. See Microaggressions.
Refers to someone using gendered language, pronouns, or forms of address that do not correctly reflect the gender that a person is, identifies with, and wishes to be known as. When misgendering occurs, thank the patient if they have corrected you, repeat what you had said with the correct pronoun, and move on.
A term coined by queer Black feminist Moya Bailey to describe misogyny directed towards Black women where race and gender both play roles in bias.
A pronoun mix, like he/they or she/they, is generally shorthand for “I use both he/him/his and they/them/theirs pronouns.” The use of two pronouns means they can generally be used interchangeably. However, desired use is different for each person; it is okay to ask if a person uses one over another
An acronym for ‘men who love men.’ This term is often used in order to be more inclusive of the multiple orientations that contain same-gender attraction towards men and mascs (such as bisexuality, pansexuality, et cetera).
A term referring to individuals who are intimate or involved romantically with one person at a time.
Stands for Men Who Have Sex with Men. Reports on STIs and public health commonly use this term, although those who identify as MSM might or might not identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community. This designation often allows discrimination against GBTQ+ men, for example in blood donation.
A genderqueer or gender-expansive person assigned male at birth.
A non-gendered prefix (pronounced ‘mix’, ‘mex’, ‘mox’, or ‘mux’ depending on the person). A prefix is used in front of a last name as a form of formal address, such as Mr. or Mrs. For example: “My teacher, Mx. Smith, sent me home with a form today.”
Neocolonialism is a system that aims to achieve control of less developed countries by developed countries economically, politically, and culturally. The word “neo” means “new so it means that this system is a new version of colonialism.
Pronoun sets, typically gender neutral, that are used as an alternative to more traditional pronouns such as ‘they/them.’ Neopronouns are typically conjugated and used in sentences the same way as other single third person pronouns. Some examples include ‘xe/xem’ and ‘ze/zir.’
Neurodivergence / Neurodivergent
An umbrella term to describe a difference in neurological function from what is considered by society to be “normal” or “typical,” and can cover a broad range of mental and neurological diagnoses (e.g. ADHD, autism, dyslexia, etc).
A term some Neurodivergent folks use to describe their gender identity and how it is interconnected with and inseparable from their neurodivergence.
A term to describe when a person has no presentation of atypical patterns of thought or behavior.
A gender-neutral term for niece/nephew.
Non-binary / Nonbinary / NB / Enby
Refers to people who do not subscribe to the gender binary. They might exist between or beyond the man-woman binary. Some use the term exclusively, while others may use it interchangeably with terms like genderqueer, genderfluid, gender nonconforming, gender diverse, or gender expansive. It can also be combined with other descriptors e.g. nonbinary woman or transmasc nonbinary.
Language is imperfect, so it’s important to trust and respect the words that nonbinary people use to describe their genders and experiences. Nonbinary people may understand their identity as falling under the transgender umbrella, and may thus identify as transgender. Sometimes abbreviated as NB or Enby, the term NB has been used historically to mean non-Black, so those referring to nonbinary people should avoid using NB.
An umbrella term to describe a practice of maintaining more than one romantic and/or sexual relationship at the same time. ‘Ethical non-monogamy’ prioritizes consent and open communication between all parties.
Refers to an individual who is romantically attracted to all genders, with gender playing a role in the attraction. This term differs from panromantic (see Panromantic), in that people who are panromantic are also romantically attracted to people of all genders, but do not notice their partner's gender.
Refers to a person whose emotional, romantic, and/or physical attraction is to people of any gender, and who notice their partner's gender. This term differs from pansexual, in that people who are pansexual are also emotionally, romantically, and physically attracted to people of all genders, but do not notice their partner's gender.
Any object that allows anyone of any gender to present the silhouette of external genitalia.
Packing is a term used to refer to the act of wearing a packer to help relieve dysphoria around their pelvic area.
Padding refers to the use of undergarments to create the appearance of larger breasts, hips, or buttocks.
Someone whose gender identity and/or expression encompass the many shades of gender.
Refers to an individual who is romantically attracted to people of all genders, but does not notice their partner's gender. Panromantics will tend to feel that their partner's sex and/or gender does little to define their relationship.
A sexual orientation that is not limited in choice by gender identity or sex assigned at birth. Some describe this as being attracted to all genders.
A term used to describe when someone who is not cisgender is perceived as cisgender. Can also be used to describe a spectrum, that is, the degree to which someone passes (or is perceived as) their gender (rather than as their gender assigned at birth).
A form of ethical non-monogamy and an individual orientation. Polyamory is the practice or ability of maintaining more than one romantic and/or sexual relationship simultaneously. Consent and open communication are key aspects of polyamory. Each polyamorous relationship will look different depending on the needs communicated by the individuals involved. Poly relationships can be open (partners are open to new relationships) or closed (partners have set boundaries and are not interested in adding new relationships).
Not all polyamorous individuals will be in multiple relationships at all times, and this identity often includes other orientations such as bi, pan, hetero, et cetera. Polyamory differs from open relationships in that all relationships involved have similar levels of commitment, whereas open relationships tend to prioritize the original pairing. Again, these nuances vary widely and depend on the individuals involved.
Refers to an individual who experiences romantic attraction towards people of more than one sex or gender, but not all. Unlike panromantic this term implies that sex or gender is still a factor in attraction, and it does not imply the gender binary as biromantic does.
Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)
This is an emergency prescription antiretroviral medication to be taken within 72 hours of possible exposure to HIV. Possible exposure includes during sex, sharing needles to inject drugs, or if you have been sexually assaulted. Though PEP is highly effective in preventing HIV, it should not be taken in place of other HIV prevention measures, such as taking PrEP or practicing safe sex.
Pre-, Post-, or Non-Operative (or -Op)
The terms used to describe the surgery status of a transgender person. Pre-Op means that a person has not had gender-affirming surgery and may or may not plan to. Post-Op means that an individual has had gender-affirming surgery. Non-Op means that a person does not plan to have gender-affirming surgery. The choice to have gender-affirming surgery is highly personal and does affect the validity of a person’s gender identity. Refrain from discussing a trans person’s surgical history or future unless they bring up the topic.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)
A prescription medication those at higher risk for HIV take to prevent getting HIV from sex or injection drug use. Though PrEP is highly effective in preventing HIV, it should not be taken in place of other HIV prevention measures, such as practicing safe sex and not sharing drug-related injection equipment.
Unearned benefits, which are often unconscious or taken for granted, afforded to a particular population in society based on norms. There are multiple types of privilege, i.e., race privilege, gender privilege, sexual orientation privilege, etc. For example, heterosexuals have privilege in a heterosexist society because of their sexual orientation.
A word that is used to refer to someone instead of a name or noun phrase. Different gendered pronouns include she, him, their, and many more. For a complete list of pronouns, check out this guide by Egale Canada.
For additional resources on pronoun usage, see the resources compiled by Trans Wellness Ontario. When Misgendering occurs, thank the patient if they have corrected you, repeat what you had said with the correct pronoun, and move on.
Also referred to as Hormone Blockers, this is a form of gender-affirming medical care which allows young trans and gender-expansive people to prevent the potentially negative outcomes of going through a puberty that does not match their gender identity.
Acronym for Queer and Trans People of Color. This term emphasizes the intersections of race, gender, and sexual orientation.
Queer has different meanings to different people. Some people view the term queer to be more inclusive and political than more traditional categories of sexual orientation, while other people do not use the word to self-identify because of its historical context as a derogatory slur.
A marketing technique in which media creators or executives allude to the presence of LGBTQ+ characters or relationships within their content, but fail to include actual representation so as not to lose non-2SLGBTQ+ viewers.
Characterized by a desire to have a queerplatonic relationship with an individual in particular. These relationships include more, or deeper, commitment than simple friendship but are not romantic or sexual in nature for those involved.
A person with one or more 2SLGBTQ+ parent or caregiver. Typically a term used for self-identification.
Describes those who are in a process of discovery and exploration about their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or a combination thereof. Questioning people can be of any age, so for many reasons, this may happen later in life. Questioning is a profoundly important process, and one that does not imply that an individual is choosing to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer.
Prejudice and discrimination by an individual, community, or institution against a person based on their race or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.
Romantic identity refers to an individual’s pattern of romantic attraction based on a person's gender(s) regardless of one's sexual orientation. Romantic identities and sexual orientations are not mutually exclusive. For some people, they are the same (i.e. they are pansexual and panromantic), while they may be completely different for other people (i.e. they are asexual and biromantic).
Same-Gender Loving (SGL)
A term coined by Cleo Manago, and sometimes used by some members of the Black community or people of African descent, to express sexual orientation without relying on terms and symbols of European descent.
A term used to refer to women and femmes who experience attraction to others on the feminine part of the gender spectrum. This term is often used in order to be more inclusive of the multiple orientations that contain same-gender attraction towards women and femmes (such as bisexuality, pansexuality, et cetera). The term originates from the name of Sappho, an Ancient Greek poet and woman.
Also referred to as Biological Sex. Refers to anatomical, physiological, genetic, or physical attributes that determine if a person is male, female, or intersex. These include both primary and secondary sex characteristics, including genitalia, gonads, hormone levels, hormone receptors, chromosomes, and genes. Often also referred to as “sex,” “physical sex,” “anatomical sex,” or specifically as “sex assigned at birth.” Biological sex is often conflated or interchanged with gender, which is more social than biological, and involves personal identity factors.
Prejudice, discrimination, or stereotyping typically against women, on the basis of sex.
Sex Assigned at Birth
The label a medical professional gives to a baby when it is born. A medical professional may say a baby is male or female depending on an external biological evaluation. Notably, Intersex babies are still assigned male or female at the time of birth despite not falling neatly into either category.
Sexual intercourse is sexual contact that involves vaginal, anal, and oral penetration.
How a person characterizes their emotional, romantic and/or sexual attraction to others.
Sex work refers to the consensual exchange of sexual services between adults for money or goods. Peers Victoria, “an organization of sex workers for sex workers,” has put together a number of resources for better understanding sex work. Specifically, we would like to draw attention to Who Are Sex Workers, Stigma and Sex Work, and Health and Sex Work. Within the context of the 2STIGD community, see We Belong: Addressing Service Inequity for Trans, Non-Binary, and Two-Spirit Sex Workers.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
STIs are sexually transmitted infections caused by an organism bacterial, viral, or parasite that can be passed to other people through sex or intimate contact. For more on STIs check out our sexual health page.
A term used to describe transgender or gender-expansive individuals who do not disclose their gender identity in their public or private lives (or certain aspects of their public and private lives). For example, a person might go stealth in a job interview. Increasingly considered offensive by some, as to them it implies an element of deception. Some use the phrase maintaining privacy instead, while others use both terms interchangeably. Additionally, passing is an alternative term which, for some, has fewer negative connotations.
Stealthing is the non-consensual removal of a condom during sexual intercourse without consent when their partner has only consented to sex with a condom.
A self regulating behavior (verbal or nonverbal) that can include rocking back and forth, flapping hands, flicking or snapping fingers, bouncing, jumping, twirling, repeating words or phrases, rubbing the skin or scratching, etc. Stimming can be a response to excitement (happy stims), or to stress and anxiety as a self-soothing technique.
A term for Black lesbians who take on a more butch (see Butch) or masculine role. Also known as ag/aggressive or butch. This term is not appropriate for non-Black lesbians to use. Often on a spectrum from butch to femme (see Femme) or stud to femme.
Abbreviation of Trans 4 Trans. A trans or gender-expansive person who is only interested in emotional, romantic, intimate, and/or sexual partnerships with other trans people. It centers the beauty of being trans by celebrating the diversity of trans experience. T4T relationships allow trans people space from having to explain their genders or experiences to cisgender partners.
Acronym for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist (pronounced “turf”). The term TERF originated online in 2008 from trans inclusive cisgender radical feminist blogger Viv Smythe; however exclusion of trans people--especially trans women--from feminist organizing spaces has been gaining traction since the 1970s. TERFs primarily believe that trans women are not “real women,” and are trying to invade women’s spaces. TERFs work aggressively to deny the existence and identity of transgender people. They often refer to themselves as gender-critical feminists.
Surgery performed on an individual’s chest/breasts as a part of gender-affirming surgery. For AFAB people, this can be a chest reduction or a full removal. For AMAB people, this can be an increase in chest size using saline or silicone.
An informal term for trans elders, coming from a combination of the words “transgender” and “ancestors.” The term highlights the fact that many trans people do not get to grow old, and celebrates intergenerational relationships. Trancestors can be well-known within the movement or personal to a community, filling a parent or grandparent-like role (see Chosen Family). Trancestors can make an impact during and after their lives, and prove that there is a long history of transgender people throughout the world.
Transfeminine / Transfemme
A word to describe a trans and/or gender-diverse person who identifies as feminine, but may or may not identify as a woman. Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer People may or may not use this terminology to describe themselves in addition to Two-Spirit or Indigiqueer.
Transgender / Trans
A term to describe a person whose gender identity and assigned sex at birth do not align. Also may be used as an umbrella term to include other gender identities outside of the gender binary, however not all gender-diverse individuals identify as trans. Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer People may or may not use this terminology to describe themselves in addition to Two-Spirit or Indigiqueer.
Transgender Man / Trans Man
A trans person who identifies as a man. Trans men are men, just like cis men, only they happen to be trans.
Transgender Woman / Trans Woman
A trans person who identifies as a woman. Trans women are women, just like cis women, only they happen to be trans.
For people who are not cisgender, this refers to the process of coming to recognize, accept, and express one’s gender identity. Most often, this refers to the period when a person makes social, legal, and/or medical changes, such as changing their clothing, name, appearance, or sex designation. Notably, not all folks transition or will only choose some aspects of transition (e.g., socially transition, but not medically transition).
Transmasculine / Transmasc
A word to describe a trans and/or gender-diverse person who identifies as masculine, but may or may not identify as a man. Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer People may or may not use this terminology to describe themselves in addition to Two-Spirit or Indigiqueer.
Also known as truscum, transmedicalists are people, both trans and cisgender, who believe gender dysphoria and the desire to medically transition are criteria to being legitimately trans.
Misogyny directed against trans and gender-expansive Black women, that often manifests itself in the form of prejudice and bias.
The intersection of transphobia and misogyny as experienced by trans women and transfeminine people.
A person with one or more transgender or nonbinary parent or caregiver. Typically, a term used for self-identification only.
The discrimination against or hatred of trans or gender-diverse people, or those who are perceived as such.
A term used in medical literature or by some trans people to describe those who have transitioned through medical interventions. Some find the term to be outdated, while others still self-identify as such. This term should only be used if the individual has already self-identified as transsexual.
Trauma-Informed Health Care
An approach that prevents further and re-traumatization by emphasizing safety, trustworthiness, opportunities for choice, collaboration and connection. Trauma-informed care is implemented in policies, procedures and practices.
The process that some people will undergo by hiding one’s genitals with tape, tight shorts, or specially designed undergarments to reduce dysphoria and the appearance of a bulge.
Two-Spirit / Two Spirited / 2 Spirit / 2S
The term "Two-Spirit" originated in Winnipeg, Canada in 1990 during the third annual intertribal Native American/First Nations gay and lesbian conference. It comes from the Ojibwe words niizh manitoag (two-spirits), that is reflective of the history and complex understandings of gender roles, spirituality, and sexual and gender diversity in Indigenous cultures. Individual terms and roles for Two-Spirit People are specific to each Nation, and the term Two-Spirit is not meant to replace any culturally specific terminology or concepts already in use within Indigenous communities.
Two-Spirit is a term that can encompass Indigenous LGBTQIAA+ People, but is used most often in contexts of gender identity. It is also important to note that not all all Indigenous People who hold diverse sexual and gender identities consider themselves Two-Spirit. An individual may identify as Two-Spirit, Indigiqueer, LGBTQIAA+, some/all of those terms, or none. Due to its cultural, spiritual, and historical context, "Two-Spirit'' is an identity only to be used by Indigenous Peoples. See The Gender Binary is a Colonial Construct.
A highly stylized, modern, street-style dance, stemming from New York City ballroom culture [particularly in neighborhoods-of-color in Harlem and the Bronx] in the late 1980s. Vogue was created and has been nurtured by Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ people inspired by Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics, as well as poses found in Vogue Magazine.
Women Loving Women, refers to lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, or otherwise same-gender loving women (pronounced “W-L-W” or “wuh-luh-wuh”). Often used in communities of color, this specification grew from the historical notion that any woman who had emotional, romantic, intimate, and/or sexual partnerships with women as lesbians. As more understandings of sexuality have come to light, WLW has largely replaced lesbian as a unifying term to describe these women.
An abbreviation for Women Who Have Sex with Women. Reports on STIs and in public health commonly use this term, although those who identify as WSW may or may not identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community.
WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health)
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), formerly known as the (Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA), is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, interdisciplinary professional and educational organization devoted to transgender health. WPATH has established internationally accepted Standards of Care (SOC) for transgender health care.
Prejudice, discrimination, or dislike against people from other countries.