Glossary of Terms

* important note on glossary terms

This glossary has been built by referring to a variety of resources and consulting with folks in the 2SLGBTQ+ community. It should be noted that this language is continuously evolving and these "definitions" should not be considered rigid or immutable.

Always make sure you refer to and describe individuals according to the words they use to describe themselves; you will note that many definitions indicate consent should be explicit before using specific terms to describe someone.

Many "definitions" came from or were adapted from the following resources:

Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Identity. (2020). CCGSD Queer Vocabulary. Available at:

Toronto Pflag. LGBTQ2S+? Terms to Know. Available at:

Trans Wellness Ontario. Glossary of Terms.




a.k.a. Two-Spirit or Two-Spirited Person


A term coined at the third annual intertribal Native American/First Nations Gay and Lesbian Conference in Winnipeg in 1990 which is used by Indigenous members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Although this English term is new, 2-Spirit people and teachings have existed within Indigenous culture since time immemorial.

2-Spirit is often described as meaning people who possess both masculine and feminine spirits, however it is used across Turtle Island to distinguish the Indigenous views of gender and sexuality from the Western gender binary violently imposed on Indigenous communities through colonialism. 2-Spirit is not a catch-all term for Indigenous people in the 2SLGBTQ+ community but may encompass individuals with various gender identities and sexual orientations. This term should only be used by Indigenous Peoples, and they must choose to adopt the term for themselves.

For more information: 2-Spirited People of the First Nations, Re:searching for LGBTQ2S+ Health, Canadian Encyclopedia



Because there are so many identities that involve gender and sexuality, it is often challenging to select a word or acronym that makes everyone feel included.

2S: Two-Spirit (placed first to recognize the historical significance and role of 2-Spirited people)

L: Lesbian

G: Gay

B: Bisexual

T: Transgender

Q: Queer or Questioning

I: Intersex

A: Asexual

P: Pansexual

+ represents the recognition of various identities that may not be represented by current and historical labels



The prefix "allo" is used to refer to people who are not on the asexual or aromantic spectrum, in the same way that "cis" is used to describe those who are not trans, or "hetero" for non-queer folks. The term allosexual is used to refer to someone who experiences sexual attraction, while alloromantic describes someone who experiences romantic attraction. It is important to note that these terms say absolutely nothing about the gender or genders that a person is attracted to - just that they experience that particular form of attraction.



A gender expression that can have elements of both femininity and masculinity, being viewed as a blending of both elements; however, androgyny can also be something that is outside of the gender binary altogether. The term can also be used to describe someone's gender, and is not limited to one's gender presentation.



A term used to describe a person who either:

does not experience sexual attraction
does not experience desire for sex, or
experiences these to a lesser degree than most



a term used to describe a person who experiences attraction to two or more genders.



A term used to describe people whose current sex/gender aligns with what was externally assigned at birth. Essentially, anyone who is not transgender is cisgender.



a societal bias, often unconscious, that privileges cisgender identities and gender norms, and ignores or underrepresents trans identities and/or gender diversity by assuming that all people are cisgender and will express their gender in a way that aligns with perceived gender norms



refers to when someone refers to a person by the name they used before their transition. This is often invalidating and can cause someone to feel like you do not respect their identity, that you do not support their transition, or that you are unwilling to put in the effort to make this necessary change.



a term typically used to describe a self-identified man who is attracted to other men or masculine-aligned people. This term can sometimes be used as an umbrella term for those who experience attraction to people of the same gender, but is not accepted as such by all members of the LGBTQ+ community.



Gender is a system that operates in a social context to classify people. In many Western contexts this takes the form of a binary “man” or “woman” classification, although many are beginning to recognize a broader spectrum. An individual’s gender is comprised of both their own personal sense of their gender, and their gender expression.

gender dysphoria

(noun; see also: gender euphoria)

Gender dysphoria results from a feeling of disconnection between how trans people understand and embody their identities compared to how society expects trans people to understand and embody themselves. Experiences are informed by the context of society that normalizes cis people over trans people. For some, gender dysphoria can be incredibly intense and lead to significant mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. For others, it can be much more mild, involving only slight unpleasantness or discomfort.

gender euphoria


Gender euphoria is the opposite of gender dysphoria, but both can exist simultaneously (it's not one or the other). Euphoria is the comfort or joy experienced when one presents themselves as, or is viewed by others as, their true gender.

gender expression

(noun; also: gender presentation)

This term refers to the ways in which someone outwardly expresses or presents themselves through behaviour, mannerisms, clothing, and appearance. Typically, these are associated with societally constructed presentations of specific genders. Gender expression may vary and change over time.

gender fluid


Gender fluidity represents those whose gender fluctuates or varies over a period of time (maybe occasionally, monthly, weekly, daily, or even moment-to-moment, depending on the person). A gender fluid person's gender may change dramatically, delicately, rapidly, or slowly, and may respond to different circumstances.

gender non-conforming


A community-generated term to describe those who depart from the societally-sanctioned binary gender norms of masculine or feminine. It is often more commonly used to refer to youth, without placing the label transgender on anyone at a young age.

gender-affirming care/surgery


A broad term for health care that transgender people may pursue, including counseling, hormone replacement therapy, and surgical treatments. Not all transgender people pursue every form of medical treatment available. Many choose not to have all medical interventions, and others never receive medical care of any kind due to cost, access, or personal choice.

gender-neutral pronouns


Gender-neutral pronouns provide an identity for a singular person who does not identify as he/him/his or she/her/hers.They/them/theirs is one of the most common, although there are others (zie/hir/hirs; xe/xem/xyr; ney/nem/nir).

If you're uncertain, it's acceptable to offer your pronouns and ask the person for theirs. It is an act of allyship when people of all identities normalize the disclosure of pronouns.



A term used by some individuals to describe their gender identity as neither entirely masculine nor entirely feminine. It should be noted that not all people who fit this definition are okay with the term or are comfortable with using it for themselves. For this reason, no one should be called “genderqueer” without their explicit consent.



a cultural and societal bias, often unconscious, that privileges heterosexuality, and ignores or underrepresents diversity in attraction and behaviour by assuming all people are heterosexual.



The social pressure to assimilate into heteronormative society and to become the ideal of the “mainstream gay” or “respectable queer”. It is the approach of broadening heteronormative institutions very slightly to integrate some LGBTQ+ people, instead of fundamentally challenging those institutions, thus upholding heteronormative social structures such as nuclear families, the gender binary and gender roles.



An umbrella term used to describe the negative attitudes directed toward individuals who are not heterosexual. This is an explicit form of discrimination and can include anger, intolerance, resentment, erasure, and discomfort.


(adjective; should not be used as a noun)

A term (no longer commonly used) to describe someone who is sexually attracted to those who identify as the same gender, or a gender similar to, the one they do. However, this term has a history of medicalization and criminalization, and should not be used for someone without their expressed consent.



A term used to describe people who are born with anatomy or chromosome patterns that do not fit typical definitions of male or female. Intersex persons are often subjected to surgical intervention at birth, with or without parental consent or even knowledge.



a term used to describe a self-identified woman who is attracted to other self-identified women or feminine-aligning people.



The act of gendering someone incorrectly. This often involves using gendered words that are inappropriate, or the wrong pronouns.  Misgendering can be very painful for the person to whom it has been done, whether intentional or not.



MSM (men who have sex with men) or MLM (men who love men)

Men who engage in sexual activities with other men without necessarily identifying as gay, bisexual, bi-curious, or queer.



An umbrella term used to describe those whose gender falls outside of the gender binary. Nonbinary people may identify as being both a man and a woman, somewhere in between, or as falling completely outside these categories. While many also identify as transgender, not all nonbinary people do.



Exposing someone’s 2SLGBTQ+ identity to others without their permission. Outing someone can have serious repercussions on employment, economic stability, personal safety, and religious or family situations.



A term for someone who experiences attraction to a person regardless of gender. Pansexual people may refer to themselves as being gender-indifferent, asserting that someone's gender is not a determining factor in their attraction to others.



The practice of having, or desiring an intimate relationship with more than one person at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.



Often used as an umbrella term for the whole LGBTQ+ community, queer is used to describe someone who identifies as something other than heterosexual or cisgender. While it has been reclaimed by many, it should not be used to describe someone without their consent.


(adjective or verb)

this term has come to describe anyone who hasn't yet defined their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or some combination of the three. Using this term allows them to avoid labels while exploring themselves and belonging to the community.

sex assigned at birth


Sex assigned at birth is a medical term used to classify people as male, female or intersex at the time of birth. Sex classification is technically comprised or chromosomes, hormones, secondary sex characteristics, and internal & external genitalia; however, sex assignment at birth is often solely based on external genitalia. Inclusion here of the recognized category of “intersex,” frequently overlooked in discussions of sex, serves as a reminder that even at the level of biology, sex is not a binary system.

sexual orientation

(noun; also sexuality)

A term used to describe the types of attraction (emotional, romantic, sexual, etc.) that one can experience towards others based on their gender or gender presentation. Common examples include heterosexual, bisexual, pansexual, gay, lesbian, queer, asexual, etc.

social dysphoria/euphoria


Social dysphoria is a type of gender dysphoria that refers specifically to the feeling some trans people get when others do not treat them as the correct gender. People sometimes use the term social dysphoria to distinguish between dysphoria prompted by interactions with others and dysphoria prompted by physical or internal factors, such as being uncomfortable with their bodies (gender dysphoria).

split-orientation model


A way of conceptualising experiences of attraction wherein romantic and sexual attraction are two separate and distinct entities that may or may not align within an individual. This model says that people can have different sexual and romantic orientations, and it is understood that typically these two things together are being referenced when someone says “sexual orientation”.

For example, a person may identify as bisexual and homoromantic, meaning they are sexually attracted to multiple genders, but only romantically attracted to the same or similar gender to their own.


/ trans   (adjective)

A person whose current sex/gender does not align with what they were assigned at birth. This is an umbrella term to describe the diverse ways that people can experience gender.

Transgender people, like cisgender people, can claim any identity in relation to their sexual/romantic orientation (for example, a transgender man may identify as heterosexual if they are primarily attracted to self-identified women and feminine people).



The process of transition refers to a variety of social, medical, and/or legal changes that some transgender people may pursue to affirm their gender identity. Transition can be different for each individual and there is no one way to transition; it is up to the trans person to decide what is right for them.

Social transition can involve changing name, pronouns, gender expression, washroom use. Medical transition can involve hormones and/or surgery. Legal transition can involve legally changing identity documents.



Hatred of any perceived transgression of gender norms exhibited in ways such as prejudice, discrimination, or violence. Anyone who is not cisgender (or is assumed not to be) can be a victim of transphobia.


WSW (women who have sex with women) or WLW (women who love women)


Women who engage in sexual activities with other women without necessarily identifying as a lesbian or bisexual/bi-curious/queer.

(WLW may be pronounce wuh-luh-wuh)


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2SLGBTQ+ Healthcare Copyright © 2022 by Selinda Berg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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