Crash Course on LGBTQIA+ Terminology


We’ve covered this topic before at the Salemite in this section, however, given that this is our first article of the year, we thought a refresher might be in order. Let’s talk about terminology.

The basics; sex, gender and sexuality.

Though society may try to tie them together, they are completely unrelated. Sex is something that is assigned to people upon birth based on genitalia; some examples of sex would be male, female and intersex.

According to the LGBTQIA Resource Center of UC Davis, gender is “a social construct used to classify a person as a man, woman, or some other identity.” Someone’s gender does not always correspond with the gender that was assigned to them based on sex organs at birth. This relates to a person’s gender identity which refers to a person’s sense of their own gender.

Finally, sexuality, often referred to as sexual orientation or sexual identity, refers to the people that someone is sexually attracted to.

Terms related LGBTQIA specifically

L – Lesbian: A sexuality. This term refers to a woman whose attraction is primarily towards those of the same gender.

G – Gay: A sexuality. This is an umbrella term for people who are primarily attracted to those of the same gender, though it is usually used to describe men rather than women.

B – Bisexual: A sexuality. This term describes a person whose attraction is primarily towards people of the same gender and a different gender than their own.

T – Transgender: An aspect of someone’s gender identity. This term describes a person whose gender identity is different than that of the one that was assigned to them at birth. This word is an adjective, not a noun, and should not be used as one.

Q – Queer or Questioning, depending on who you’re talking to. Queer is an umbrella term that refers to people that exist outside the spectrum of cisgender and heterosexual experiences. This term has been used as a slur in the past, however many people are reclaiming it. Questioning is a term that refers to people who are exploring their sexuality or gender identity.

I – Intersex: Something related to one’s sex classification. According to the LGBTQIA Resource Center, intersex refers to “the experience of naturally (that is, without any medical intervention) developing primary or secondary sex characteristics that do not fit neatly into society’s definitions of male or female. Intersex is an umbrella term and there are around 20 variations of intersex that are included in this umbrella term.”

A – Asexual: A sexuality. Describes a person that primarily does not experience sexual attraction towards others. This varies from person to person.  

Extending past LGBTQIA

Romantic Orientation: Not always related to someone’s sexual orientation, this refers to who someone is romantically attracted to.

Pansexual: Describes a person who is attracted to all genders.

Agender: Refers to a person whose gender identity does not align with any gender.

Cisgender: Refers to a person that has the same gender identity that was assigned to them at birth based on their genitals.

Genderqueer: According to the LGBTQIA Resource Center, “A person whose gender identity and/or gender expression falls outside of the dominant societal norm for their assigned sex, is beyond genders, or is some combination of them.”

All of the definitions were found by referencing the LGBTQIA Resource Center, a center sponsored and founded by University of California at Davis. Some other resources on LGBTQIA terminology are the Michigan State University Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Resource Center, Amnesty International’s glossary of LGBT+ terms and the Human Rights Campaign’s glossary of terminology.

If there are any question that you have about LGBTQIA+ issues, education or other general information or you just want to suggest a topic, please feel free to submit questions to

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