An Abridged Glossary of Terms
If you’re what Ashley Mardell calls an “LGBTQIA+ novice” in her book The ABC’s of LGBT+, you might want to have a look at the following glossary of terms. And, if you are an “LGBTQIA+ expert,” you might still find a word or two you don’t know. This is an abridged glossary from Mardell’s book because, to tell the truth, it takes more than a quick read to understand the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between terms. (BTW, in this book, I’m using LGBTQ. Why? Because those are the groups about which there has been a good deal of research—the results of which will be presented in this chapter. And when I use the Q, I am using the definition of queer, not questioning.)
Agender/genderless: Someone who is without gender, gender neutral, and/or rejects the concept of gender for themselves.
Androgyne: A person is both a man and woman, neither a man nor woman, and/or somewhere in between man and woman.
Androgynous: Possessing qualities which are traditionally associated as both masculine and feminine, neither masculine nor feminine, and/or in between masculine and feminine.
Asexual: Someone who experiences little or no sexual attraction toward individuals of any gender.
Bicurious: Someone curious about having sexual/romantic attractions and/or experiences with more than one gender.
Binary: The rigid way society divides sex and gender into only two categories: 1) male/men and 2) female/women.
Bisexual: Being attracted to two or more genders.
Cisgender/Cis: A person whose gender identity is the same as their sex and/or gender assigned at birth.
Female to Female/FTF: Someone whose sex and/or gender was assigned male at birth and who rejects that their gender was ever male.
Fluid: Not fixed, able to change.
FTM: Acronym for “female to male.”
Gay: (the G in LGBTQ) This label can refer to men who are attracted to men; it can refer to people who are primarily attracted to the same or similar gender as their own; or it can be an umbrella term for anyone who is not straight.
Gender dysphoria: Distress or unhappiness experienced because one’s gender does not match their sex and/or gender assigned at birth.
Gender euphoria: Extreme happiness, or comfort ability, experienced because a person’s gender is being affirmed.
Gender identity: The identifier (or lack of identifier) someone uses to communicate how they understand their personal gender, navigate within or outside our societal gender systems, and/or desire to be perceived by others.
Gender neutral: Having a gender that is neutral.
Gender roles: Societal roles, positions, behaviors, and/or responsibilities allowed or expected from men and women based on societal norms.
Genderqueer: Someone whose gender exists outside of or beyond society’s concept of gender.
Heterosexual/Straight: Being attracted to the other binary gender.
Lesbian: (the L in LGBTQ) Women (as well as nonbinary and genderqueer people who feel a connection to womanhood) who are attracted to other women.
Male to Male/MTM: Someone whose sex and/or gender was assigned female at birth and who rejects that their gender was ever female.
Non-binary/nb: Existing or identifying outside the sex/gender binary, being neither a man nor woman, or being only partially or a combination of these things.
Polyamory: The practice or desire of relationships involving more than two people.
Pronouns: Words used to refer to specific people when their proper names are not being used (e.g., he, she, they, ze, e, etc.).
Queer: (The Q in LGBTQ) Describes a sexual and/or gender identity that falls outside societal norms. This term has a history of being used as a slur. Although it has been reclaimed by many LGBTQ people, not everyone is comfortable using it.
Questioning: (the other definition of Q in LGBTQ) Being unsure of one’s sexual/romantic orientation or gender identity. *Note: In this book, Q stands for Queer.
Romantic attraction: Attraction that is romantic, not sexual.
Sex/gender assignment: Society’s propensity to label an infant as male or female, man or woman, at birth, usually based on the appearance of their genitals.
What is the difference between gender and sex?
In general terms, “sex” refers to the biological differences between males and females, such as the genitalia and genetic differences. “Gender” is more difficult to define but can refer to the role of a male or female in society (gender role), or an individual’s concept of themselves (gender identity).
Trans man: (the T in LGBTQ) Someone who was assigned female at birth and is a man.
Trans woman: (the T in LGBTQ) Someone who was assigned male at birth and is a woman.
Transgender: (the T in LGBTQ) An umbrella term for anyone whose gender identity does not match their sex and/or gender assigned at birth.
Transition: The process of accepting oneself and/or pursuing changes in order to affirm one’s gender.
Transsexual: A person whose gender is different from their sex/gender assigned at birth. This is an older term that has fallen out of popular usage in favor of the word “transgender.”
Whew! That’s a lot to take in. Thanks to author Ashley Mardell for all her hard work.
Because Dead Serious is a book about teen suicide and not a book about the spectrum of gender and sex, the glossary is meant to help clarify some of the terms we hear more and more these days and to understand ways in which the interviewees for this chapter self-identify.
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