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words matter.

Part of building a respectful, affirming, and inclusive environment for the LGBTQ+ community means understanding and using the correct terminology. We understand it can all be confusing. That's why we've put together a glossary of common terms to help you out! Click on the words below to reveal their definition.

  • A person who advocates for the LGBTQ community and actively works against hetero- and cis-sexism, homophobia, and transphobia.

  • An identity used by individuals whose gender identity/expression differs from the gender they were assigned, but is not a binary "male" or "female." Similar terms include "Genderqueer," and "Agender." These identities are unique from person to person, and benefit from questions such as "how can I address you?" or "What are your pronouns?"

  • A person who is not sexually attracted to anyone and/or does not have a sexual orientation. Asexuality exists on a spectrum (sometimes called "the grey scale").

  • Preferential treatment and/or privileges granted to non-LGBT people, based on the idea that heterosexuality is the norm. (For example: birth certificates list "mother" and "father")

  • Irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality and/or LGB individuals.

  • A person who feels comfortable and identifies with the gender assigned to them at birth based on their physical sex.

  • Previously called "Hermaphrodite," this term describes an individual born with a mix of sex characteristics. An estimated one in 2,000 babies is born with these mixed characteristics.

  • Refers to the continual, life-long process through which a person accepts and shares their sexuality or gender identity with the people in their life.

  • A sexual orientation used for women who experience attraction to other women. Not all women who engage in sexual behaviors with other women will identify with this term.

  • A sexual orientation used for men who experience attraction to other men. Not all men who engage in sexual behaviors with other men will identify with this term.

    This term can also be used by women who experience attraction to other women, or as an umbrella term to (inaccurately) refer to the entire LGBTQ community.

  • An individual that may experience attraction to people of any sex and/or gender.

  • A social construct, determined by the society that a person lives in. Defines expectations about the appearance, behavior, desires, and qualities that a person will have based on their sex.

  • Historically used as a slur, this term is used by some individuals as an umbrella term for any person who is non-heterosexual and/or non-cisgender. This term can also be used as a sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

  • How a person outwardly presents themselves and their gender to the world. This term is based on cultural norms, and may differ from one region to the next.

  • A medical term that defines someone as male, female, or intersex. Based on physiological characteristics such as hormones, reproductive organs, and chromosomes.

  • A procedure (or series procedures) used to modify a person's body to be more congruent with one's gender identity. Also known as Gender Confirming Surgery. Previously called "Sex Reassignment Surgery" (not a preferred term, often used related to health insurance).

  • Describes a person's sexual identity in relation to the gender(s) to which they are attracted.

  • Describes an individual that fluctuates between two or more genders.

  • An umbrella term that describes any person whose gender identity does not align with the sex/gender they were assigned at birth.

  • A person's internal sense of themselves as male, female, neither, or both.

  • Irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against transgender individuals.

language to avoid

Some phrases can be unintentionally insensitive or offensive to members of the LGBTQ+ community. Click on the words or phrases to reveal more inclusive options.

when greeting others

Using gender-inclusive language respects other peoples' gender identities and removes assumption.

try not to use







use instead

"thanks, friends"

"good morning, folks!"

"hi, everyone!"

"and for you?"

"can I get you all something?"

Trillium Health provides extraordinary care, always. One of the ways our organization continues to thrive is through donations from community members and organizations like you. Donations of any amount are welcome!