Sexuality and Gender Diversity Definitions

Sexuality and Gender Diversity Definitions

The rainbow flag is a symbol of the growing movement to embrace, accept and celebrate sexual diversity and to support efforts that aim to end discrimination. Whether you identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community or not, you can be part of the movement to end discrimination. Let's begin by clarifying a few terms...

  • GLBTQ+ is abbreviation for - Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, 2-spirited, Intersexed, Queer/Questioning and Allies. The purpose is usually to use an inclusive term for anyone with diverse sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sexual orientation refers to a person's sexual and romantic attraction.

  • A Heterosexual (sometimes referred to as 'straight') person's primary romantic attraction is to people considered to be the opposite sex or gender than them.
  • A Homosexual person has sexual and romantic attraction is to people of the same sex or gender as themselves.
  • A Bisexual person's sexual and romantic attraction is to people of more than one sex and/or gender.
  • An Asexual (non-sexual) person does not experience sexual attraction to others and/or do not desire to be sexual with partners.
  • Pansexual or Omnisexual refers to people who can feel attraction to people of all genders or who don't feel that gender plays a part in sexual attraction.
  • Sex (or designated sex) is about how we understand our bodies as male or female, including whether we're born with a penis or a vulva.

Gender identity is usually assigned at birth based on visible genitals. For most people this sex assignment also fits their gender expression and experience. For some, their assigned sex does not match their gender expression and experience.

  • Cisgender refers to a person who feels that their body, their gender experiences and expression, and identity match with one another.
  • A Transgender person identifies more strongly with another gender than the one which they were assigned with at birth.
  • Transsexual people are transgender people who take hormones and have surgery to change their bodies to how they feel inside.
  • Gender Non-conforming (or Gender Queer): describes a person who does not identify as a man or a woman.
  • Gender fluid is a gender identity which varies over time. A gender fluid person may at any time identify as male, female, gender non-conforming, or any other non-binary identity.
  • Lesbian refers to a woman whose primary sexual and romantic attraction is to other women.
  • A Gay man is a male whose primary sexual and romantic attraction is to other males.  'Gay' is also used as an inclusive word that includes gay men, lesbians, bisexual people and sometimes transgender people. An example is Ottawa's Gay Pride Parade.
  • To many people, Queer encompasses the entire GLBT community.
  • A Questioning person isn't sure about their sexual orientation or is in the process of figuring it out.
  • Women who have sex with women (WSW) is a term that describes any women who has sex with women, whether they identify as gay, bisexual, straight or otherwise. This term is often used in a health care setting.
  • Men who have sex with men (MSM) describes men who have sex with men, whether they identify as gay, bisexual, straight or otherwise. A useful description for situations where sexual behaviour and activity is relevant (eg: health care setting).
  • Female-to-male transsexual people are sometimes referred to as FTMs.
  • Male-to-female transsexual people are sometimes referred to as MTFs.
  • Two spirited is a term used to refer to people of aboriginal ancestry who embody the spirit of both genders and experience varying degrees of gender fluidity.

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