Whether you’re queer or decidedly un-queer, the amount of terms used to describe different aspects of the community can be confusing. ‘The word’s gone mad,’ I hear you say. ‘LGBTQ? More like LGBTQASDFGHJKLZ!’ There are, I will admit, a lot of words. But the English language has around seventy words for penis (see: willy, todger and ding-a-ling), and I bet you remember all of those. I’m sure we can manage to remember some more definitions, even if it means we have to forget schlong and wang to make mental space.
Here’s a guide to the most common terms used by the queer community, in alphabetic order no less. How helpful am I?
(Just by the way, language is always changing, and words don’t always mean exactly the same thing to everyone. This can make the labels for different sexualities and genders confusing, and some of them have different meanings to different people. I’ve done my best to summarise the easiest definitions but let me know in the comments if you think I’ve gotten anything wrong.)
Anything that ends in ‘romantic’ means a romantic attraction. For example, biromantic means romantically attracted to men and women.
Anything that ends in ‘sexual’ means, you guessed it, a sexual attraction. For example, bisexual means sexually attracted to men and women (though many people use it as a catch-all phrase to mean both sexual and romantic attraction. I know. Confusing. We’re a big community with lots of different opinions. It happens.)
This is an umbrella term that includes both sexuality and gender. It covers anyone who is not completely heterosexual and cisgender.
Feeling no romantic attraction towards anyone. This doesn’t mean aromantic people can’t have fulfilling relationship or families.
Feeling no sexual attraction towards anyone. Again, this doesn’t mean asexual people can’t have fulfilling relationships or families.
Experiencing attraction towards multiple genders (there’s some debate on whether this literally only means TWO genders but, like I said, language changes and many bi people no longer agree with the definition of two genders).
Experiencing sexual attraction ONLY when a strong emotional relationship has been established
Experiencing attraction to the same sex (most often used for men).
Only occasionally experiencing sexual attraction.
A woman who is attracted to other women.
Experiencing attraction to all genders.
A person who loves more than one person at a time or who has multiple romantic or sexual relationships at one time. They are NOT necessarily bisexual, and it is NOT the same as cheating. Polyamory requires complete consent and honesty from all participants.
A person who does not identify with a particular gender.
A person whose appearance has both classically male and classically female features.
A person whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were born as. For example, a person who was born with a vagina and identifies as a woman.
A person who dresses as the opposite gender for performative purposes. They often perform on stage or in clubs.
A person whose gender fluctuates from day to day. One day they might identify more as a man and dress to demonstrate this, and the next day they might feel more like a woman.
A person who doesn’t fit in with the traditional male-female binary. This is an umbrella term, which can include gender fluid and androgynous people.
A person who was born with both male and female genitalia.
A person who was born in a body that doesn’t match their gender identity. This includes both people who have medically transitioned and people who haven’t.
If I’ve missed anyone, let me know in the comments! If you have any more questions, please feel free to contact me or comment and I’ll be happy to help you out.