Sex, Gender, & Sexuality Lexicon
“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
Sex & Gender
A socially constructed category that reflects real biological variation in an extremely limited way. Typically segmented into male, female, and intersex and based on a variation of physical markers such as chromosomes, hormones, and primary and secondary sex characteristics.
“Breasts, penises, clitorises, scrotums, labia, gonads—all of these vary in size and shape and morphology. So-called “sex” chromosomes can vary quite a bit, too. But in human cultures, sex categories get simplified into male, female, and sometimes intersex, in order to simplify social interactions, express what we know and feel, and maintain order.
So nature doesn’t decide where the category of “male” ends and the category of “intersex” begins, or where the category of “intersex” ends and the category of “female” begins. Humans decide,” – Intersex Society of North America “What is Intersex?”
Intersex is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. Approximately 1 percent of live births are intersex in some way.
Though intersex is often spoken of as an inborn condition, intersex anatomy doesn’t always show up at birth. Sometimes a person isn’t found to have intersex anatomy until she or he reaches the age of puberty, or finds himself an infertile adult, or dies of old age and is autopsied. Some people live and die with intersex anatomy without anyone (including themselves) ever knowing.
A sex identity. Can be prefixed with cis or trans (ex. cis male or trans male). When identified with it may look like any combination of primary and secondary sex characteristics. What is considered to be necessary for someone to identify as male is dependent primarily on the individual’s own preferences, though those preferences will be influenced by many social factors.
When assigned at birth it is often determined by having “correct” external genetalia as determined by a doctor (usually). Further characterization can be determined by the presence of: primary sex characteristics such as bulbourethral glands, epididymis, penis, prostate, scrotum, seminal vesicles, testicles; hormone levels; xy chromosomes; and development of secondary sex characteristics at puberty such as body hair (specifically androgen-responsive body hair), facial hair, adam’s apple, voice deepening, increased muscle mass.
A sex identity. Can be prefixed with cis or trans (ex. cis female or trans female). When identified with it may look like any combination of primary and secondary sex characteristics. What is considered to be necessary for someone to identify as female is dependent primarily on the individual’s own preferences, though those preferences will be influenced by many social factors.
When assigned at birth it is often determined by having “correct” external genetalia as determined by a doctor (usually). Further characterization can be detrmined the presence of: primary sex characteristics such as bartholin’s glands, cervix, clitoris, fallopian tubes, labium, ovaries, skene’s glands, uterus, vagina, vulva; hormone levels; xx chromosomes; development of secondary sex characteristics at puberty: enlargement of breasts, underarm and pubic hair, widening of hips, more subcutaneous fat; and menstruation.
The assignment and classification of people as male, female, or intersex based on physical anatomy at birth. The combination of sex assignment and subconscious sex determine the use of the prefixes cis or trans before our sex identity. If speaking directly of sex assignment you would use the phrases “male assigned at birth” (AMAB), “female assigned at birth” (FAAB), or “intersex assigned at birth” (IAAB) instead of “born female/male/intersex,” “genetically male/female/intersex” or etc.
A subconscious, intrinsic, self-understanding that all people experience regarding their own sex embodiment. This can change over the course of a lifetime. Cissexuals tend not to notice or appreciate their own subconscious sex because it is concordant with their assigned sex (and therefore they tend to conflate for two). In contrast, transsexual people tend to be excruciatingly aware of their subconscious sex (as it is at odds with their assigned sex). Transsexual people often describe their subconscious sex as an intrinsic, inexplicable, deeply felt understanding that there is something “wrong” with the sex they were born into, or that they should be (or wish they could become) another sex.
How we self-identify ourselves in terms of our sex. Usually this is in line with our subconscious sex, and similarly it can change throughout a lifetime.
Gender Dissonance (Sex Dissonance)
A form of cognitive dissonance experienced by trans* people due to a misalignment of their subconscious and physical sexes. Gender dissonance comes from the psychiatric term “Gender Dysphoria,” (hence why it is gender dissonance not sex dissonance) but is not the same as Gender Dysphoria which typically conflates this cognitive dissonance regarding one’s sex with the mental stresses that arise from societal pressure to conform to gender norms.
A sex category. Cis is a Latin prefix meaning “on the same side [as]” or “on this side [of].” A person whose subconscious sex and sex assignment are congruent. Often written as cis male, cis female, or cis intersex (though usually intersex people are assigned either male or female at birth so cis intersex people are rare).
A sex category. Trans is a Latin prefix meaning “beyond,” “over,” “across,” “through,” “change” or “transfer,” though most often thought of as meaning “across.” A person whose subconscious sex and sex assignment are incongruent (not aligned). Not all transsexuals have the same level of gender dissonance or need the same things (eg. hormones, surgery) to cope with it. Sometimes spelled transexual by those that feel transsexual is pathologizing, because it was coined and is perpetuated by the medical/psychological/sexological establishment.
A person whose subconscious sex and sex assignment are incongruent and who wish to minimize their sex markers not to become male or female but to become neither. Neutrois seek an androgynous appearance, but androgynes aren’t necessarily Neutrois because being Neutrois involves gender dissonance.
A person whose subconscious sex and sex assignment are incongruent and who does experience themselves as male or female but as something else entirely. They may or may not also identify as transsexual. They may or may not desire to transition.
The act(s) of changing from one sex or gender to another, and/or the act(s) of changing one’s physical body and/or appearance as part of a sex/gender change. For many trans* people, transition is not a single discrete event, but a gradual set of changes over a period of time. What constitutes “transitioning” differs among trans* people: it may be medical, cosmetic, social and/or legal.
Sex Reassignment Surgery
Refers to surgical alteration, and is only one small part of transition (see Transition above). Preferred term to “sex change operation.” While such modifications may be necessary for our peace of mind, they are not necessary to make us “real men” or “real women” or “real” whatevers. Not all transgender people choose to or can afford to have SRS.
A constructed social category that is distinct from sex. A set of social roles and cues as well as psychological and emotional traits, often influenced by societal expectations that classify an individual as feminine, masculine, androgynous, other, etc. Broken down into role, cues, identity, presentation/expression, and attribution.
“Gender is a language, a system of meanings and symbols, along with the rules, privileges, and punishments pertaining to their use—for power and sexuality (masculinity and femininity, strength and vulnerability, action and passivity, dominance and weakness). Since it is a system of meanings, gender can be applied to almost anything” – Riki Wilchins “Queer Theory/Gender Theory” p35
The classification of gender (and usually sex right along with it) into two distinct and disconnected forms: masculinity and femininity. It usually includes a social boundary that discourages people from crossing or mixing gender roles or from creating other forms of gender expression altogether. It can also represent some of the prejudices which stigmatize intersex and transgender people.
An illustration of gender that gets away from the idea of the gender binary outside of a line or continuum which still has two “opposing” poles. Often described with any of the above terms, though gender universe is preferred. Using the term Gender Universe fits in with the Multiverse Identity Theory by Tai Kulystin as well. If we illustrate gender and all other identities (sexuality, relational, power, kink, spirituality, ethnicity, ability, etc.) as universes instead of points or continuums, the combination of identities unique to each of us creates our own configuration of a multiverse.
“I suggest a non-linear alternative conceptualization, which I call the gender galaxy. The gender galaxy is a three-dimensional non-linear space in which every gender has a location that may or may not be fixed. For instance, butch woman is one particular gender location. Feminine FTM is another gender location. These are two different valid gender locations that are not linearly related.”
-Dylan Vade. “Expanding Gender and Expanding the Law: Toward a Social and Legal Conceptualization of Gender that is More Inclusive of Transgender People.” 2005.
The assumption that those assigned male (sex) at birth will be men (gender) and those assigned female (sex) at birth will be women (gender), and/or that those who present femininity (gender) are female (sex) and those who present masculinity (gender) are male (sex). Usually little assumption is made about intersex bodies or those outside the gender binary.
How society expects us to act and behave, based on perceived gender.
How we self-identify ourselves in terms of our gender. Sometimes the terms man and woman are used for identity and masculinity and femininity are used for presentation.
How we express our gender identity to others through gender cues. Gender presentation does not always line up with gender identity, especially if the gender identity is not monogendered.
The way gender is presented to and/or read by others, such as hairstyle, clothing, vocal inflection and tone, vocabulary, gesturing styles, body shape, facial hair, etc. Cues may vary from culture to culture.
The gender that other people assign onto us. This may or may not be congruent with the way we are presenting or expressing our gender and can vary depending on cultural gender roles.
A gender category. A person whose gender assumption and gender identity are incongruent. Often used as an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term may include but is not limited to: transsexuals, cross-dressers, and other gender-variant people. Transgender people may identify as female-to-male (FTM), male-to-female (MTF), or something else entirely. Transgender people may or may not choose to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically.
An umbrella term for trans identified people. The * stands for a myriad of suffixes creating terms such as: transgender, transsexual, transfeminine, transmasculine, transqueer, etc. Often expanded to include genderqueer, gender-fluid, and otherwise gender non-conforming people as well.
An umbrella term for the words for the things that “make” people trans*: transsexuality, transgenderism, genderqueerness, etc. Sometimes called Trans*ism, but that’s too close to the negative –ism.
A gender category. A person whose sex/gender assumption and gender identity are congruent. Usually these people are also cissexual, though not all cissexuals are cisgendered.
A gender identity. Can be prefixed with the word cis or trans (ex. cis man or trans man). What exactly is considered to be characteristics of a “real man” differs wildly between cultures, classes, races, etc.
A gender identity. Can be prefixed with the word cis or trans (ex. cis woman or trans woman). What exactly is considered to be characteristics of a “real woman” differs wildly between cultures, classes, races, etc.
A gender presentation. Can be prefixed with the word cis or trans (ex. cis masculine or trans masculine). What exactly is considered to be characteristics of a masculinity differs wildly between cultures, classes, races, etc.
A gender presentation. Can be prefixed with the word cis or trans (ex. cis feminine or trans feminine). What exactly is considered to be characteristics of a masculinity differs wildly between cultures, classes, races, etc.
Masculine of Center (MoC)
A term, coined by B. Cole of the Brown Boi Project, that “recognizes the breadth and depth of identity for lesbian/queer/ womyn who tilt toward the masculine side of the gender scale and includes a wide range of identities such as butch, stud, aggressive/AG, dom, macha, tomboi, trans masculine etc.” Masculine of center doesn’t necessarily imply a linear progression or hierarchy of masculine genders and while “masculine of center” is definitely in contrast to “feminine of center,” it isn’t necessarily in opposition, as they play off of each other, interdependent and interwoven. Although originally defined to be used by those assigned female at birth it can be used by any sex to describe their gender identity and/or presentation.
Feminine of Center (FoC)
A gender category to refer to queer people who tilt toward feminine gender presentations without implying rejection of masculinity or a linear progression or hierarchy of feminine genders. There are no universal terms for other gender presentations, but certainly we could imagine what Genderqueer of Center or Androgynous of Center would look like.
A gender identity and/or presentation. Usually characterized by queerness and a masculine of center identity. Often used as a presentation modifier to a gender identity, such as butch woman, butch trans woman, butch genderqueer, etc. Most common among females.
A gender identity and/or presentation. Usually characterized by queerness and a feminine of center identity. Often used as a presentation modifier to a gender identity, such as femme woman, femme trans man, femme genderqueer, etc. Most common among females.
An identity or identity category that exists outside the gender binary. Sometimes used as an umbrella term for non-binary genders but is also used as an identity to mean someone who does not identify as man or woman but possibly both/neither/or something else entirely. They may express a combination of masculinity and femininity or neither. Many genderqueers see gender and sex as separable aspects of a person and sometimes identify as a male woman, a female man, or a male/ female/ intersex genderqueer. Genderqueer individuals may or may not pursue any physical changes, such as hormonal or surgical intervention. Genderqueer individuals may or may not identify as trans.
Another catch-all/umbrella term. A term for individuals whose gender expression is different from their gender assumption. Gender non-conforming individuals identify in a wide variety of ways and may or may not pursue any physical changes, such as hormonal or surgical interventions.
Another identity or identity category that exists outside the gender binary. It is sometimes used as a catch-all term for non-binary genders but can also mean the experience of gender expression and identity changing and fluctuating over time.
A person who does not identify with any binary gender, they may identify with their own gender or reject the idea of gendering themselves in general. Could also identify as neutrois if gender dissonance is involved.
Literally a word combining the Greek words for man (andros) and woman (gyné). A person who identifies as both masculine and feminine or completely genderless. They may also use the term ambigender (like ambidextrous) to describe themselves. They may or may not identify with terms such as genderqueer and/or trans*.
An English term that emerged in 1990 out of the third annual inter-tribal Native American/First Nations gay/lesbian American conference in Winnipeg. It describes Indigenous North Americans who fulfill one of many mixed gender roles found traditionally among many Native American and Canadian First Nations indigenous cultures. The mixed gender roles encompassed by the term historically included wearing the clothing and performing the work associated with both men and women.
A word meaning “all gendered.” A person who identifies with all genders. They may or may not identify as genderqueer and/or trans*.
The experience of your gender attribution matching your gender performance and/or identity. Alternatively, the experience of your gender attribution being “man” or “woman” when you are trans*.
“Dressed As a Girl” or “Dressed As a Boy” from the stage directions of plays in Elizabethan times (most famously, Shakespeare). Despite the origins “drag” is usually preferred to drab and is used to refer to someone dressing up in an exaggerated gender presentation of any gender (usually but not necessarily a gender that is not their identity) regardless of their own sex or gender identity. This may or may not be the same as drag king or queen. Also used as a general term to reference the fact that gender is constructed. See quote below.
“[T]he more we go looking for that real gender, the more it recedes and in its place we find only other [people], who also stylize their bodies in very specific, learned ways we recognize. Woman is to drag—not as Real is to Copy—but as Copy is to Copy. Gender turns out to be a copy for which there is no original. All gender is drag. All gender is queer.” – Riki Wilchins “QT/GT” p134
Drag Queens & Drag Kings
Performers who take on stylized, exaggerated gender presentations. Usually feminine = drag queen and masculine = drag king. Do NOT use these terms to describe someone who has transitioned or intends to do so in the future (unless they identify that way).
Cross-dressing (or crossdressing)
Though still used, this term is somewhat obsolete and is being phased out. The act of dressing and presenting as the “opposite” binary gender. One who considers this an integral part of their identity may identify as a Cross-dresser. Transvestite is also an obsolete term with the same meaning. This is often replaced simply with “drag” to avoid the problematic gender. Do NOT use these terms to describe someone who has transitioned or intends to do so in the future (unless they identify that way).
“[T]he parable of the anthropologist who goes in search of new genders. He sails to a remote, distant island, where the inhabitants recognize six of them. He goes ashore, and finds himself face-to-face with half a dozen statues representing gods, with one for each recognized gender. Crestfallen, the anthropologist turns around to continue his search elsewhere because, as he reports back, “like everyplace else, they had only two genders.” Two genders were all he could see.” – Riki Wilchins “QT/GT” p133-134
Generally defined by the sex of the individuals who we are attracted or “oriented” to sexually, erotically, and emotionally. Some categories of sexual orientation include: lesbian/gay – attracted to some members of the same sex; bisexual – attracted to some members of both genders; pansexual = attracted to some members of all sexes and genders; straight – attracted to some members of another sex (usually “opposite” sex but that is binary gender thinking) and asexual – not sexually attracted to others. Sometimes Emotional/Romantic Orientation is separated out from sexual orientation.
Who we have sexual encounters with, generally defined by the sex of the individuals we relate with but can also include the gender. This category can also include sexual proclivities and activities such as swinging, polyamory, or BDSM.
A social identity based on our sexual orientation/attraction and sexual behavior. This can include the same words used in sexual orientation but are also frequently more specific and/or cultural terms such as: queer, dyke, fag, homoflexible, heteroflexible, etc. This category can also include sexual practice identities such as swinger, polyamorous, monogamous, or Dom/Sub/Switch/Kinkster/etc.
A sexual orientation, behavior, and/or identity indicating someone who does not experience sexual attraction. Each asexual person experiences things like relationships, attraction, and arousal somewhat differently. Some asexual people experience attraction, but we feel no need to act out that attraction sexually. Some asexuals identify by a romantic orientation rather than a sexual one.
Sexual orientations, behaviors, and/or identities. “Homo” is a Greek prefix for “the same.” Homosexual people are characterized by their sexual attraction for some members of the same sex and/or gender as they are. Homoromantic people are characterized by their romantic attraction for some members of the same sex and/or gender as they are. Homoflexible people are characterized by their main sexual attraction to some members of the same sex and/or gender as they are and the potential of sexual attraction to a limited number of members of different sexes and/or genders.
In current common use gay typically refers to a (usually male) homosexual. Used in slang as early as the 1860s to refer to homosexuals of any sex/gender, though it didn’t come into common usage until the 1950s at the earliest. Originally meaning both “full of joy, merry; light-hearted, carefree;” and “wanton, lewd, lascivious.”
In current common use lesbian typically refers to a female homosexual. Literally meaning “pertaining to the island of Lesbos” where the Greek poet Sappho was from, one of the earliest known bisexuals (commonly thought of as lesbian) on record. This is also where the term Sapphic comes from meaning “sexual relations between women.”
A sexual identity. Queer is used as an umbrella term for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and also for those who are trans* and/or intersexual (although many trans* and intersexual people identify as heterosexual or straight, and not queer). Queer in this sense is used as a synonym for LGBTQQIAAetc. Queer is also often used as a sexual identity. For some queer-identified people, part of the point of the term is that it simultaneously builds up and tears down boundaries of identity. For some people, the non-specificity of the term is liberating. Queerness becomes a way to simultaneously make a political move against heteronormativity while simultaneously refusing to engage in traditional essentialist identity politics. It is important to note that there is a generational gap when it comes to using the term as for many it is still considered derogatory. Andrew Parker (1994), among others, defines queer as, “a non-gender-specific rubric that defines itself diacritically not against heterosexuality but against the normative.”
Sexual orientations, behaviors, and/or identities. “Hetero” is a Greek prefix for “different,” usually this is thought of as being attraction to the “opposite” sex and/or gender, but as there are more than two sexes and genders there are no opposites. Homosexual people are characterized by their sexual attraction for some members of a (singular) different sex and/or gender as they are. Heteroromantic people are characterized by their romantic attraction to some members of a (singular) different sex and/or gender as they are. Heteroflexible people are characterized by their main sexual or romantic attraction to some members of a different sex and/or gender as they are and the potential of sexual or romantic attraction to a limited number of members of the same sex and/or gender as they are.
A sexual orientation/identity category. “Mono” is a Greek prefix meaning “one,” characterized by an attraction to one sex and/or gender, usually called either hetero- or homosexual. This is most often used by those who are attracted to multiple sexes and/or genders to set themselves apart.
Sexual orientations, behaviors, and/or identities. “Bi” is a Latin prefix meaning “two,” and the most well-known non-monosexual identity/orientation. Often defined as “attracted to both sexes” it is problematic because there are more than two genders or two sexes, therefore many people choose to use one of the following non-monosexual labels or simply “queer” instead of bisexual. There are some people who identify as bi* that are truly only attracted to two of the options. Bisexual people are characterized by their attraction to some members of two (or often more) sexes and/or genders. Biromantic people are characterized by their romantic attraction to some members of two (or often more) sexes and/or genders. Bicurious people are most often heterosexual identified, though sometimes homosexual identified, with a curiosity about being sexual with some members of a sex and/or gender that they have not previously been sexual with.
A sexual identity.A play on the term “ambidextrous,” synonymous with bisexual in meaning.
A sexual orientation and/or identity. “Multi” is a Latin prefix meaning “many.” Similar to bisexual in the sense that there may be some sexes and/or genders that the person is not attracted to at all. Multisexual people are characterized by their attraction to some members of many but not all sexes and/or genders. Multiromantic people are characterized by their romantic attraction to some members of many but not all sexes and/or genders.
Sexual orientations and/or identities. “Pan” is a Greek prefix meaning “all” and “Omni” is a Latin prefix meaning “all.” Pansexual/Omnisexual people are characterized by their sexual attraction for some members of all sexes and genders. Panromantic/Omniromantic people are characterized by their romantic attraction for some members of all sexes and genders. Often these terms are used with the intention of emphasizing an interest in personality rather than gender or sex.
A queer sexual orientation and/or identity characterized by attraction to other queer people, usually regardless of sex and/or gender.
A sexual identity which is characterized by the resistance to set labels of sexual orientation/identity, used as a protest against fixed labels (purposefully oxymoronic).
Developed by Dr. Alfred Kinsey, first published in 1948. The Kinsey Scale scale from 0, meaning exclusively heterosexual, to 6, meaning exclusively homosexual, introducing the concept of more than two options sexual orientation, though still grounding it in binary thinking. Kinsey also famously said that he had never met a 0 or a 6.
Klein Grid (Klein Sexual Orientation Grid)
Developed by Dr. Fritz Klein as an offshoot of and improvement on the Kinsey scale. Instead of simply asking for sexual orientation this grid asks to rate sexual attraction, sexual behavior, sexual fantasies, emotional preference, social preference, lifestyle preference, and self-identification all on a scale of 0 to 6 as well as each of those in past, present, and future, giving a broader view on what makes up sexual identity, tough still grounding it in binary thinking. For more information check out: kleingridonline.com or www.bisexual.org/kleingrid.html
“For me, the words “transgender” and “queer” are most similar to the word “feminist” – I see these words not as identities, but as political affiliations.” – Julia Serano
Attitudes Toward Sex, Gender, & Sexuality
Transphobia (sometimes Trans*phobia)
Fear, hatred, distrust, disgust, or dislike of trans* people for no other reason than their gender identity.
Sexism that is rooted in the presumption that femaleness and femininity are inferior to (and only exist for the sexual benefit of) maleness and masculinity. It targets those who are female (often regardless of gender) as well as those who are feminine (regardless of their sex).
Sexism that is rooted in the presumption that female and male are rigid, mutually exclusive, “opposite” sexes, each possessing a unique and non-overlapping set of attributes, aptitudes, abilities, and desires. It targets those who do not conform to oppositional gender norms. A number of other categories of sexism (e.g., transphobia, homophobia and cissexism—see below) fall under the umbrella of oppositional sexism.
Literally “to hate women,” misogyny is a byproduct of sexism and is the fear, hatred, distrust, disgust, or dislike of women for no other reason than their gender.
Sexism that specifically targets those on the trans female/trans feminine spectrums. It arises out of a synergetic interaction between oppositional and traditional sexism. It accounts for why trans women tend to be more regularly demonized and ridiculed than their trans men counterparts, and why trans women face certain forms of sexualization and misogyny that are rarely (if ever) applied to non-trans women.
Sexism that is rooted in the presumption that genders and sexualities that are deemed subversive, radical, or transgressive are inherently superior to those that are more conventional. While this form of sexism is not prevalent in mainstream culture, it does proliferate in queer, feminist and radical circles.
The belief that trans* genders are less legitimate than, and mere imitations of, cissexual genders. Cissexism is most typically enacted through one or more of the following processes: trans-fascimilation (viewing or portraying trans* people as merely imitating, emulating or impersonating cissexual or cisgendered expressions); trans-exclusion (refusing to acknowledge and respect a trans* person’s sex and/or gender identity, or denying them access to spaces, organizations, or events designated for that gender); trans-objectification (when people reduce trans* people to their body parts; the medical procedures they’ve undertaken; or get hung up on, disturbed by, or obsessed over supposed discrepancies that exist between a transsexual’s sex and gender identity); trans-mystification (when people use the relative infrequency or taboo nature of trans*ness to mystify, artificialize or to “other” trans* people); and trans-interrogation (when people bring a trans* person’s identified gender into question by asking them to answer personal questions about their life story, their motives for transitioning, medical procedures they have undertaken, or when they obsess over what causes trans*ness – such questions reduce transsexuals to the status of objects of inquiry).
The common, albeit mistaken, tendency people have to presume that every person they meet is cissexual and/or cisgendered (unless they are provided with evidence to the contrary). This transforms cissexuality and cisgenderism into a human attribute that is taken for granted. It is an active process that invisibilizes trans people and their experiences.
The belief that a person who is assigned male or female is somehow more ‘real’ and more valid than someone who has become man or woman through hormonal, surgical, and/or cosmetic means. Similar to cissexism.
The privilege that cissexuals experience as a result of having their femaleness or maleness deemed authentic, natural, and unquestionable by society at large. Cissexual privilege allows cissexuals to take their sex embodiment for granted in ways that transsexuals cannot.
Fear, hatred, distrust, disgust, or dislike of gay/lesbian/queer/homosexual people for no other reason than their sexual orientation.
Fear, hatred, distrust, disgust, or dislike of bi/pan/multi/etc.-sexual, queer, or otherwise non-monosexual people for no other reason than their sexual orientation.
Fear, hatred, distrust, disgust, or dislike of asexual people for no other reason than their sexual orientation.
Fear, hatred, distrust, disgust, or dislike of GLBPQAetc. people for no other reason than their sexual orientation.
A pervasive and institutionalized ideological system that naturalizes heterosexuality as universal; it must continually reproduce itself to maintain hegemony over other non-normative sexualities and ways of identity construction.
“a non-physical form of aggression involving demeaning implications and other subtle insults.” Originally applied to racial oppression, the concept of microaggression describes all those little ignorant comments and bigoted assumptions that oppressed people have to deal with throughout each day.
“A microaggression might be a straight person asking a gay man why he hasn’t at least tried to be heterosexual. A microaggression might be an Asian kid getting mocked with “ching-chong.” A microaggression might be a woman who is expressing anger being asked if she is on her period, or an autistic person having to hear the word “retarded” used casually.”
Many more examples of microaggressions can be found at microaggressions.com
(Definition from A Day in the Life of an Angry Transsexual)
“Gender stereotypes cause real, profound, and pervasive social suffering and hardship. The suffering is no less real because we don’t always see the issue.” – Riki Wilchins “QT/GT” p141
Terminology to Avoid*
Disclaimer: Not all terms listed in this section are necessarily bad, but they can be very degrading if used in the wrong context or directed towards the wrong person. Please try to avoid these terms and usages unless someone identifies with them and asks for them.
Problematic: tranny, she-male, he-she, it, trap, hermaphrodite, T-girl, boi
Preferred: do not use these at all
These are all derogatory. “Tranny” is a slur that has been used for decades to degrade feminine spectrum trans people; although many trans people have reclaimed it, it is still a hurtful slur to many others. “She-male” and the like are degrading terms commonly used in pornography. Although “T-girl” and “boi” are somewhat common identities, many trans people feel they imply they are not “real” women and men.
Problematic: real, bio, genetic, natural, born
Preferred: cis OR AMAB, AFAB, AIAB (depending on the usage)
Trans people are not fake, artificial, or unnatural. Their genetics have the same effect on them that cis people’s do, and they’re born to be who they are just as much as cis people are. Cis is also preferable to “non-trans,” which would unfairly create a labeled group and an unlabeled one. If you are talking about the sex a person was assigned at birth you would want to use that language rather than cis, since a person’s sex assignment does not always line up with their sex identity.
Problematic: sex change, pre-op, post-op, non-op, female-bodied, male-bodied
Preferred: do not reduce trans people to their bodyparts
Bodyparts are not the defining trait of one’s identity. If you do need to talk about surgical options or techniques, be as medical and specific as possible, e.g. “Erin underwent vaginoplasty in July 2009.” Be tactful and aware when asking trans people about their medical history. It’s usually none of your business.
Problematic: MtF, FtM, transgenders, a transgender, a transsexual, a trans
Preferred: trans people, transgender people, trans women, trans men, women, men
The acronyms MtF and FtM are still very common, but their use is being phased out because they make it sound like someone is stuck in transition forever and define trans people by their birth assignments. Trans and its variations are adjectives, not nouns. Using them as nouns strips trans people of their identities and objectifies them. You wouldn’t say “Erin is an MtF,” you’d say “Erin is a woman,” or “Erin is a trans woman.”
Problematic: transwoman, transman, trans-woman, trans-man
Preferred: trans woman, trans man
The one-word “transwoman” or hyphenated “trans-woman” imply that trans women are a “third gender,” distinct from woman. By including the space, trans is just an adjective modifying a particular type of woman, just like Asian woman or young woman or liberal woman. While some self-identify with these terms, they are not generally accepted.
* This section taken nearly directly from A Really Awesome Trans Glossary
How Not to be Defensive When Accused of Transphobia (A Guide for Cis People)
Derailing for Dummies
“Whipping Girl” by Julia Serano (more info on it here)
“Transgender History” by Susan Stryker
“Queer Theory/Gender Theory” by Riki Wilchins
“Genderqueer: Voices From Beyond the Sexual Binary” ed. Joan Nestle, Clare Howell, Riki Wilchins
“PoMoSexuals” ed. Carol Queen & Lawrence Schimel
“Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation” ed. Kate Bornstein & S. Bear Bergman
“Gender Trouble” and “Undoing Gender” by Judith Butler
“Transgender Rights” Ed. Paisley Currah, Richard M. Juang, and Shannon Price Minter
“Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity” by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
Gender & Sexuality Lexicon Version 3.1 updated 6 June 2011 © Tai Kulystin