Terminology Related to Gender and Sexuality

Note: We at Nazariya have tried our best in this document to carefully research and present to you definitions of terms related to gender and sexuality.These definitions are just suggestive pointers to understand gender and sexuality terms. It is difficult to capture the essence of identities in a few sentences. The definitions may vary from place to place or individual to individual since we all have our unique ways of defining ourselves which should be respected.

This list does not claim to be comprehensive but we hope you will build on this list and continue to reflect on your beliefs and attitudes about people with diverse gender identities and sexual orientation.

Term Definition
 

Asexual

A person who does not desire sexual activity, either within or outside of a relationship.

Asexuality should not be confused with celibacy i.e. the conscious decision to not act on sexual feelings, usually due to religious reasons. While asexual people are physically non-sexual-type folks, they are nonetheless quite capable of loving, showing affection, and establishing romantic ties with other people.

 

Bisexual

 

A person who can have sexual and/or romantic attractions towards those of their own gender as well as those of other genders.

There is a myth that bisexual people are promiscuous or indecisive. But being attracted to multiple genders does not imply being attracted to more than one person at a time. A person may be monogamous (engaging with one person) or polyamorous (engaging consensually in multiple relationships) regardless of their sexual orientation.

 

Butch

 

Butch is a term used to describe a woman who presents her appearance and other behaviour in a traditionally masculine way.

 

Cisgender

 

A cisgender (often abbreviated to cis) person is the one who has a match between the gender they were assigned at birth, their bodies, and their gender identity. In other words, those who have a gender identity or perform a gender role that society considers appropriate for their sex. It is a complement to the term ‘transgender’.

 

Closeted

 

A gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender person who does not disclose their gender identity or sexual orientation to people around them. They often do so for fear of persecution, rejection, and/or negative reactions from others.

There are some people who may remain closeted or may not want to ‘come out’ because they do not see a point in disclosing their gender identity or sexual orientation.

 

Femme

 

A traditionally feminine-appearing and -behaving woman. Mainly used to refer to a feminine lesbian or bisexual woman.

 

Gay

 

A person who identifies as a man and is sexually and/or romantically attracted to others who identify as men.
This term can also be used to describe any person (man or woman) who experiences sexual and/or romantic attraction to people of the same gender.

 

Gender

 

Refers to the attitudes, feelings, and behaviours that a given culture associates with a person’s biological sex.

Behaviour that is compatible with cultural expectations is referred to as gender-normative; behaviours that are viewed as incompatible with these expectations constitute gender non-conformity.

 

Gender expression

 

The ways in which we present ourselves to the outside world. This can be in terms of our behaviour, clothing, hairstyle, or voice. This manifestation or expression may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine. There is no wrong or right way to present yourself.

 

Heterosexual

 

An individual who is sexually and/or romantically attracted to people of a sex other than their own.

 

Homosexual

 

An individual who is sexually attracted to people of the same gender as their own.

 

Intersex variations

Human bodies have many variations, and these could be at multiple levels – reproductive, hormonal, physical, etc.

Intersex variations are congenital differences in reproductive parts and/or secondary sexual characteristics, and/or variations invisible to the eye such as chromosomal and/or hormonal differences.

Since human bodies are so diverse, there is no absolute standard of a ‘normal’ male or female body.

 

Lesbian

 

A person who identifies as a woman and is sexually and/or romantically attracted to other women who identify as women.

 

Queer

 

It is an umbrella term for people who have diverse sexual and gender identities.

 

Sexuality

Sexuality is a central aspect of being human throughout life, and encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy, and reproduction. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours, practices, roles, and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, ethical, legal, historical, religious, and spiritual factors.
 

Trans*

 

This term refers to all persons whose sense of their gender does not match the gender assigned to them at birth. The star/asterisk in ‘trans*’refers to all non-cisgender gender identities. These will include transwomen, transmen, gender non-conforming, genderqueer, gender non-binary, etc.

 

Transman

 

 

 

 

A transman is a transgender person who was assigned gender female at birth but whose gender identity is that of a man.

Some transmen may choose to undergo surgical or hormonal transition, or both, to alter their appearance in a way that aligns with their gender identity more appropriately. And some transmen may choose not to undergo surgical or hormonal transition.

 

Transwoman

 

A transwoman is a transgender person who was assigned gender male at birth but whose gender identity is that of a woman.

Some transwomen may choose to undergo sex or gender reassignment surgery to alter their appearance in a way that aligns with the gender identity they identify with more appropriately. And some transwomen may choose not to undergo sex or gender reassignment surgery.

Adapted from:

  • Breaking the Binary (2013), LABIA
  • Basics and Beyond (2006), TARSHI
  • Key Terms and Concepts in Understanding Gender Diversity and Sexual Orientation Among Students, American Psychological Association
  • Glossary of Terms, Human Rights Commission
  • Gender and Human Rights, WHO
  • LGBT Terms and Definitions, International Spectrum, University of Michigan
  • LGBTIQ Terminology, LGBT Center, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Queertionary – A Guide to LGBT Terminology, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Center, Baker University Center, University of Ohio
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