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LGBT terms - a glossary

Glossary of LGBT-related termsGlossary of LGBT-related termsGlossary of LGBT-related terms

Explaining the meaning of words used commonly while referring to or describing the LGBT community


    Acronym for ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender’. It is an umbrella term used to refer to the community as a whole.

  • Lesbian

    A woman whose enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction is to other women. Some lesbians may prefer to identify as gay or gay women.

  • Gay

    A word describing a man or a woman who is emotionally, romantically and sexually attracted to members of the same sex.

  • Bisexual, Bi

    An individual who is physically, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to men and women.

  • Transgender

    An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term is not limited to transsexuals, cross-dressers, and other gender-variant people. Transgenders may identify as female to male (FTM) or male to female (MTF). Transgenders may or may not choose to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically.

  • Closeted / Being in the Closet

    A metaphor used to describe an LGBT person who has not disclosed his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.

  • Coming Out

    The process of acknowledging one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity to other people. For most LGBT people this is a lifelong process.

  • Gay Pride

    Common name for celebrations commemorating the Stonewall riots and for marches and public demonstrations by the LGBT community in general.

  • Gender Identity

    One's internal, personal sense of being man or woman (or boy or girl). For transgenders, their birth-assigned sex and internal sense of gender identity do not match.

  • Hijra

    Biological / anatomical males who reject their 'masculine' identity to identify either as women, or not-men, or in-between man and woman, or neither man nor woman. The term 'hijra' is used in north India while in Tamil Nadu, the terms are 'Aravani' and 'Thirunangai'.

  • Homophobia

    Fear of lesbians and gay men. Also implies hatred or antipathy toward LGBTs.

  • Homosexual

    Older term to describe people who are attracted to members of the same sex. Gay and/or lesbian are preferred terms by some.

  • Males who have Sex with Males (MSM)

    An umbrella term for all biological males who have sex with other males, regardless of sexual / gender identity, and includes transgenders / transsexuals (male to female) as they are biologically male.

  • Queer

    Originally an abusive epithet for a gay man, it is now used by some academics and activists to refer to anything sexually or gender diverse.

  • Sexual Orientation

    Describes an individual's enduring physical, romantic, emotional and/or spiritual attraction to members of the same and/or opposite sex including lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual and asexual orientations or neither.



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