LGBTQIA Definitions

Getting the Facts Straight:

As ironic as that may sound it is important to get the facts straight when dealing with the LGBTQIA community. What is LGBTQIA you may ask? The following is a comprehensive informational outline of what it means to identify as LGBTQIA. Also included is a brief outline on the differences between sexual orientation and gender identity. We encourage our users to read over this guideline first and refer to it often while using this site.


Lesbian- A woman who is attracted physically, romantically, emotionally and/or spiritually to other women.

Gay- Commonly used to describe a man who is attracted physically, romantically, emotionally and/or spiritually to other men.Some women prefer the term “gay” over “lesbian.” Gay can also be an umbrella term for many people who identify within the LGBTQIA realm.

Bisexual- A person who is attracted sexually and emotionally to members of both sexes. (Assumes a binary understanding of gender)

Transgender- A person whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex  they were assigned at birth. A person who feels that the binary gender system (male/female) is an incomplete description of who they are. An umbrella term for people whose anatomies and/or appearance do not conform to predominant gender roles.

The Transgender Umbrella is a visual representation of all those who are a part of the transgender community.

Queer- A blanket term that some LGBTQIA individuals use to describe themselves. It is preferred by some because it is inclusive of the entire LGBTQIA community. Most often used as a self-identification by an LGBTQIA individual.

Questioning- A person who is in the process of figuring out their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Intersex- A term to describe a person whose biological sex is ambiguous. There are many genetic, hormonal, and/or anatomical variations which cause someone to be intersex. The term intersex is preferred to “hermaphrodite,” which is now considered a derogatory term.

Asexual- A person who does not experience sexual attraction towards anyone. Asexuals view their asexuality in different ways and are extremely diverse.

Ally-  A member of the majority/dominant group who works to support and advocate for the LGBTQIA population.


Sexual Preference- term typically used to suggest that being LGBTQ is a choice and therefore can and should be “cured.” This term is considered offensive to the LGBTQIA community.

Sexual Orientation- The accurate description of an individual’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional and/or spiritual attraction to members of the same and/or opposite sex and is inclusive of the LGBTQ community.


The Genderbread Person is a picture breakdown of gender identity, gender expression, sex, and attraction.

Sex- Classification of a person as male or  female, assigned at birth based on external genitalia. Most often sex is based on chromosomes that an individual is born with. Please notice that sex and gender are not interchangeable terms.

Gender Role- Set of roles and behaviors assigned to females and males by society.

Gender Identity- An individual’s internal, personal sense of their gender.

Gender Expression- Refers to the ways in which people externally communicate their gender identity to others through behavior, clothing, haircut, voice, and emphasizing, de-emphasizing, or changing their bodies’ characteristics.

The definitions and terms were made available by Saint Mary’s College Intercultural Lounge through the following Power Point: Safe-Zone-11-12-Student-Teachers-Updated-April-2012-1-z1c1vt (1)




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