Hamilton Health Sciences
LGBTQI (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender, Queer & Intersex Committee)
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Definitions

L G B T T T I Q Q:  An acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, intersex, queer and questioning communities

Gender Identity: A person's psychological sense of his or her own gender.

Homosexual: A person who is primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to members of the same sex. Many people within LGBTTTIQQ communities do not like to use this term; it used to be a medical label/diagnosis and people were then "treated" because of this "sickness". Most LGBTTTIQQ people do not identify as homosexual because of its unpleasant connotations.

Intersex: A person who is intersex is born with genitals that show characteristics of both sexes or differ from their genetic sex. Doctors may recommend which sex is more surgically or aesthetically viable based on a number of factors including the appearance of the external genitalia. The Intersex Movement seeks to halt medically unnecessary pediatric surgeries and hormone treatments, which attempt to "normalize" infants into the dominant "male", and "female" sex system. The terms "hermaphrodite" has also been used to refer to intersex people but it carries with it historic negative connotations so most intersex people prefer that it not be used.

Transgender: This broad term is used to describe people who may not feel, look, dress or behave in ways that are culturally expected for their "sex". They may feel that their gender identity and expression, to varying degrees, do not match or correspond with their biological sex.

Transsexual: A person who feels different from his or her biological sex. A transsexual person may or may not desire, have access to, or be able to afford to change their physical sex characteristics through surgery and/or hormone treatment.

Two-Spirit: This is an English-language term used by some First Nations people in North America. It can mean a person who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or who identifies as being either of mixed gender or a gender that differs from their biological sex. It can also imply the presence of a masculine spirit and a feminine spirit living in the same body. Pre-colonialism, two-spirit peoples were revered in many First Nations cultures as artists and healers.

Definitions That Defy Neat Categories:

Queer: An umbrella term which includes people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and other people who challenge sexual orientation, sex and gender boundaries.

This term is sometimes used as a sexual orientation label instead of "bisexual" as a way of acknowledging that there are more than two genders to be attracted to, or as a way of stating a non-heterosexual orientation without having to state who they are attracted to. 

A reclaimed word that was previously used as a slur.  In the 1980s, the term was "taken back" by gay and lesbian activists as a sign of defiant pride. Some members of the LGTBQ community still think of "queer" as a hateful insult and its use may be considered offensive. Reclaimed words are usually offensive to the in-group when used by outsiders. Caution must be exercised when using reclaimed words when one isn't a member of the group being described.

Questioning: People who are questioning their gender identity or sexual orientation. They may choose to explore other options in terms of gender and sexual identification and presentation. In some cases, they may experience confusion or conflict.

Other Important Terms:

Asexual: A word describing a person who is not sexually and/or romantically active, or not sexually and/or romantically attracted to other persons.

Autosexual: A word describing a person whose significant sexual involvement is with oneself or a person who prefers masturbation to sex with a partner

Biphobia:The fear of, discrimination against, or hatred of people who see themselves as bisexual. Biphobia is linked to the current binary (dual) gender standard whereby people are told they must be either male or female. 

Bisexual: A person who is sexually or romantically attracted to both men and women. Depending upon the person, their attraction may be stronger for one gender over the other or they may experience equal attraction to men and to women.

Bi-Positive:The opposite of biphobia. A bi-positive attitude is one that validates, affirms, accepts, appreciates, celebrates and integrates bisexual people as unique and special in their own right.

Coming Out:May refer to the process by which one recognizes, acknowledges, and/or embraces one's own sexuality, gender identity, or status as an intersex person (to come out to oneself). This term may also refer to the process by which one shares one's sexuality, gender identity or intersex status with others (to come out to friends, family, etc.). This can be a continual life-long process. An individual may be "out" in some situations, or to certain people, but not others. Some may never come out to anyone beside themselves.

Crossdresser:  A person who dresses in the clothing of the other sex for recreation, expression or art, or for erotic gratification. Formerly known as "transvestites." Crossdressers may be male or female, and can be straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual. Gay/bisexual male crossdressers may be "drag queens" or female impersonators; lesbian/bisexual female crossdressers may be "drag kings" or male impersonators

Dyke:A word traditionally used as a derogatory term for lesbians. Other terms include lezzie, lesbo and butch. Many women have reclaimed these words and use them proudly to describe their identity.

Fag: A word traditionally used as a derogatory term for gay men. Other terms include fruit, queen, fairy, sissy, pansy and homo. Many men have reclaimed these words and use them proudly to describe their identity.

Family of Choice: The circle of friends, partners, companions and perhaps ex-partners with which many LGBTTTIQ people surround themselves. This group gives the support, validation and sense of belonging that is often unavailable from the person's family of origin.

Family of Origin: The biological family or the family that was significant in a person's early development

Gay: A term used to represent men who are attracted to men in a romantic, sexual and/or emotional sense. Not all men who engage in same-sex sexual intimacy identify as gay

Gay-Positive:The opposite of homophobia. A gay-positive attitude is one that affirms, accepts, appreciates, celebrates and integrates gay and lesbian people as unique and special in their own right,

Gender of Conforming: Abiding by society's gender rules, e.g., a woman dressing, acting, relating to others and thinking of herself as feminine or as a woman.

Gender Identity: A person's own identification of being male, female or intersex; masculine, feminine, transgendered or transsexual. Gender identity most often corresponds with one's anatomical gender, but sometimes people's gender identity doesn't directly correspond to their anatomy. Transgendered people use many terms to describe their gender identities, including: pre-op transsexual, post-op transsexual, non-op transsexual, transgenderist, crossdresser, transvestite, transgendered, two-spirit, intersex, hermaphrodite, fem male, gender blender, butch, manly woman, diesel dyke, sex radical, androgynist, female impersonator, male impersonator, drag king, drag queen, etc.

Gender Transition: The period during which transsexual persons begin changing their appearance and bodies to match their internal identity.

Genderism: The belief that the binary construct of gender, in which there are only two genders (male and female), is the most normal, natural and preferred gender identity. This binary construct does not include or allow for people to be intersex, transgendered, transsexual or genderqueer

Hate Crimes:Offences that are motivated by hatred against victims based on their actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability or sexual orientation.

Heterosexism:Since homophobia literally means a fear (a feeling), the term "heterosexism" is often used to describe the more systemic aspects of stereotyping and discrimination against members of the LGBTQ communities. It is the notion that heterosexuality is the only "normal" sexuality and is "naturally" superior to non-heterosexual sexuality. The assumption that everyone is (or should be) straight is a heterosexist assumption. At both the individual and institutional level, this assumption ignores and excludes the existence of community members who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer or questioning. 

Identity: How one thinks of oneself, as opposed to what others observe or think about one

In the closet: Refers to a person who identifies as LGBTTTIQQ but has not disclosed their sex, sexuality, or gender identify to other people.

Internalized Homophobia:  Fear and self-hatred of one's own sexual orientation that occurs for many lesbians and gay men as a result of heterosexism and homophobia. Once lesbians and gay men realize that they belong to a group of people that is often despised and rejected in our society, many internalize and incorporate this stigmatization, and fear or hate themselves.

Lesbian: A term used to describe women who are attracted romantically, sexually and/or emotionally to other women. 

MSM:Refers to any man who has sex with a man, whether he identifies as gay, bisexual or heterosexual. This term highlights the distinction between sexual behaviour and sexual identity (i.e., sexual orientation). A person's sexual behaviour may manifest itself into a sexual identity, but the reverse is not always true; sexual orientation is not always reflective of sexual behaviour. For example, a man may call himself heterosexual, but may engage in sex with men in certain situations (e.g., prison, sex work).

Out or Out of the Closet: Varying degrees of being open about one's sexual orientation or gender identity

Passing: Describes transgendered or transsexual people's ability to be accepted as their preferred gender. The term refers primarily to acceptance by people the individual does not know, or who do not know that the individual is transgendered or transsexual. Typically, passing involves a mix of physical gender cues (e.g., clothing, hairstyle, voice), behaviour, manner and conduct when interacting with others. Passing can also refer to hiding one's sexual orientation, as in "passing for straight."

Polysexual: An orientation that does not limit affection, romance or sexual attraction to any one gender or sex, and that further recognizes there are more than just two sexes

Sexual Behaviour: What people do sexually. Not necessarily congruent with sexual orientation and who often choose to explore options.

Sexual Orientation:A term for the emotional, physical, romantic, sexual and spiritual attraction desire of affection for another person. Examples include heterosexuality, bisexuality and homosexuality

Significant Other: A life partner, domestic partner, lover, boyfriend or girlfriend. It is often equivalent to the term "spouse" for LGBTQ people

Straight: A term used to describe people who are heterosexual

Trans and Transpeople:Non-clinical terms that usually include transsexual, transgendered and other gender variant people

Transition:The process (which for some people may also be referred to as the "gender reassignment process") whereby transsexual people change their appearance and bodies to match their internal (gender) identity, while living their lives full-time in their preferred gender role

Transphobia: The irrational fear of those who are gender variant and/or the inability or unwillingness to deal with gender ambiguity.

Transpositive: The opposite of transphobia. A transpositive attitude is one that validates, affirms, accepts, appreciates, celebrates and integrates transsexual and transgendered people as unique and special in their own right

Transsensual:A Term for a person who is primarily attracted to transgendered or transsexual people

WSW: Refers to lesbians and women who have sex with women

Homophobia: The irrational fear and hatred of same-sex attractions. Homophobic actions can range in intensity from name-calling to extreme forms of violence

Hamilton Health Sciences • Hamilton, Ontario • 905.521.2100

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