Identity: The self perception of one's sexual orientation, the direction
of one's erotic desire. Sexual identity
is the way one experiences their sexual and emotional attraction;
it is also called sexual preference, though sexual identity is believed
to be more deeply rooted than just a "choice." Some people
experience their sexual identity as an unchanging essential part
of their nature, and others experience it in more fluid way. Sexual
identity can be directed towards members the same sex (homosexual)
or the opposite sex (heterosexual), both (bisexual) or neither (non-sexual).
is the physiological makeup of a human being, referred to as their
biological or natal sex. Sex
is usually thought of in
a bipolar way, dividing the world into males and females. In reality,
sex is a complex relationship of genetic, hormonal, morphological,
biochemical and anatomical determinates that impact the physiology
of the body and the sexual differentiation of the brain. Although
everyone is assigned a sex at birth, approximately 2% of the population
are intersex and do not easily fit into a dimorphic division of two
sexes that are "opposite."
is a social construct that divides people into "natural" categories
of men and women that are thought to derive from their physiological
male and female bodies. Gender attributes vary from culture to culture,
and are arbitrarily imposed, denying individuality. Most people's
gender identity is the same as their sex but people who exhibit opposite
gender roles are often labeled as deviant. A person's self concept
of their gender (regardless of their biological sex) is called their
Role: Gender role is the expression of masculinity and femininity and
has often been referred to as "sex roles." Gender roles
are thought to be a reflection of one's gender identity and are socially
dictated and reinforced. Gender roles are how gender is enacted or "performed" (consciously
or unconsciously) and may or may not be related to gender identity
or natal sex.
LGBT: An acronym
for "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered," also
referred to as queer. Sometime a "Q" is added for those "questioning" their
sexual and gender identities.
Lesbian: Lesbians are women who are sexually and emotionally attracted
to members of the same sex, and who form their primary loving and
sexual relationships with other women. Lesbians can also refer to
themselves as gay women or dykes. Some lesbians identify with feminist
politics, and other do not.
Gay: A man who
is sexually and emotionally attracted to other men and form their
primary loving and sexual relationships
men. The term "gay" is sometimes used generically to include
both men and women, but many women prefer to identify as lesbian.
Bisexual: A woman or man who is, or feels s/he has the potential
to be, sexually and emotionally attracted to members of either the
same or other sex. Bisexuality can be viewed as a continuum in that
degrees of attraction can vary; some bisexuals feel equally attracted
to members of either sex, and others feel a preference. Bisexuals
can be in long-term monogamous relationships with members of either
sex. Some are strongly identified with the gay political movement,
and others are not.
is a word commonly used in the lesbian and gay communities to identify
masculine females or sometimes
masculine gay men. The
spectrum of identity within the lesbian community can include "soft
butches" who identify masculine women, to transgender butches
who often do not identify as "women" and are somewhat bi-gendered
in their identity," to those who identify as transmen/FTM's
but still retain an identity as "butch."
Femme: Femme is a word commonly used in the lesbian community to
identify feminine lesbians. These are women who are lesbian-identified
who are often, although not exclusively, attracted to masculine females
Femmes often feel invisible as lesbians, since they pass in the world
as normative heterosexual women. Femme is not an identity of passivity,
but one of strength and power.
Out: The process, often lifelong, where LGBT people become
aware of, acknowledge, accept, appreciate, and let others know about
their sexual or gender identity. Coming out can involve self-knowledge,
or sharing this information with friends, family and employers.
Heterosexism: The institutionalized set of beliefs that heterosexuality
is normal, natural and superior to homosexuality. Homophobia (a fear
and hatred of gays and lesbians) is an outgrowth of heterosexism,
as is biphobia (a fear and hatred of bisexuals) and transphobia (a
fear and hatred of transgendered people). Heterosexism confers certain
privileges such as legal protection, the rights to marry, and freedom
to be publicly affectionate, on people who are heterosexual, or appear
Transgender: Transgender is an umbrella term including many categories
of people who are gender variant. This can include people who identify
as transsexuals, crossdressers, masculine identified females, feminine
identified males, MtF's, FtM's, transmen, transgendered women, intersexed,
and other differently-gendered people. Transgender people can be
heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or non-sexual. Transgenderist
is a term used for some crossdressers, who feel they are more than
crossdressers, but not quite transsexuals.
or T's): Transsexuals are people who believe that their physiological
body does not represent their
true sex. Most
transsexuals desire sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) but transsexuals
may be pre-operative, post-operative, or non-operative (i.e., choosing
to not have surgical modification). Some transsexuals prefer to not
have their birth sex known and to "pass," and others are
comfortable been seen as transsexuals and take pride in this identity.
Most transsexuals prefer to be referred to simply as men or women,
regardless of their surgical status.
Crossdressers: Crossdressers (CD's) are people who wear the clothes usually assigned
to the opposite sex. They have
been referred to
in the clinical literature as "transvestites (TV's)," but
most prefer the term cross-dresser. Some crossdress for erotic fulfillment,
some for social fun (i.e., doing "drag") and still others
just for comfort. Since women have more freedom of dress in American
culture, crossdressers are by definition males who dress in women's
clothing, and most are heterosexually identified. Many crossdressers
purge their female clothing periodically as a way to try to cure
themselves of their behavior. Drag queens are often gay men who dress
as women, in a extreme feminine manner, for fun or "camp." Drag
kings are the female version of drag queens, and are often butch
lesbians. Female impersonators are men who work as entertainers and
who dress as women as part of their job; they may be crossdressers
or transgendered but not necessarily; male impersonators are their
transsexuals (FtM or FTM): Female born people who live as men.
This includes a broad range of experience
who identify as "male" or "men" and those who
identify as transsexual, "transmen," "female men" or
as FTM as their gender identity. FtM's are often contrasted with "biomen" or
biologically born men. Some transsexuals are comfortable being included
in the category of transgender and others are not.
transsexuals (MtF or MTF): Male born people who live as women.
This includes a broad range of experience
who identify as "female" or "women" and those
who identify as transsexual women. Some words used to refer to transsexual
women are "Tgirl" and "new women" as compared
to "GG's" or genetic women. Some transsexuals are comfortable
being included in the category of transgender and others are not.
gender variant people reject the choices of male/female, man/woman
and feel their gender encompasses "both" genders.
Some feel that they are androgynous, simultaneously exhibiting masculine
and feminine traits, and others feel they are neutral, or without
gender. This steps outside of a "changing sex" paradigm
and allows for more flexibility of gender expression and identity.
Bi-gender people often identify as being of both genders. Transsexuals
normally do not consider themselves to be bi-gendered. Within some
American Indians cultures, expressing both genders is referred to
as "Two-Spirited." Within contemporary urban life, bi-gendered
people often refer to themselves as "gender queers," "gender
benders," "third sex" and "gender perverts" as
terms of pride.
process of become aware of, acknowledging, accepting, appreciating,
and letting others know about one's (trans)gender
It is similar to the "coming out" experience for LGB people,
but can also involve body modification and changes in pronoun use;
it can, therefore, be less easily hidden socially or vocationally.
Emergence is normative within a culture that allows only dimorphic
immutable gender expressions; it describes an adaptive process that
is necessary within a confining social system.
process that transgender people move through in accepting their
gender identity, particular the physical,
psychological experience of moving from one gender identity to another,
or allowing others to see one's true identity. Transition is similar
to a re-birthing experience, where the person re-emerges with a social
identity that is the best expression of their internal core gender
identity. Part of this process is cross-living as the other gender
or going through the real life experience — or real life test — to
see what living as the other gender will be like. This is necessary
before being referred for sexual reassignment surgery.
(to pass): To be able to successfully assume the gender
role opposite of physical sex when interacting with society and being
able to function in public situations as a member of that gender.
When you do not pass well, or are read as a member of your genetic
sex, it can invite public ridicule and harassment. Some transgender
activists reject the idea of trying to pass, seeing it as playing
into a dual-gender system, however for many transsexuals passing
well is seen as the ticket to their re-integration into society.
Reassignment Surgery): SRS, also referred to as GRS
(Gender Reassignment Surgery) is the surgical processes involved
in changing one's sex. These most often refers to genital surgeries,
but also can include mastectomy and chest reconstruction for female-to-male
transsexuals, and can include a variety of cosmetic surgeries to
enhance one's gender presentation. Genital surgeries for male-to-female's
is currently more advanced than the surgeries for female-to-male's.
Community: This is a colloquial term for the transgender
community. It often includes the significant others of transgender
people, referred to as SOFFA's (significant others, family, friends