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LGBTI Terminology

Language is powerful and has historically been used to discriminate against LGBTI people.    

Language can aid learning, however we recognise that long lists of terminology can be intimidating and confusing, particularly for new learners. Language and jargon can also be used to exclude others from a group or community and can be used to facilitate unequal power dynamics. We therefore recommend only using language that is suitable to the setting or the individuals you are working with. Take time to consider this before using this list of terminology.

The important message is to re-affirm that people should ask if they do not know what a word means!

Below is a list of some of the terms that can be useful to define in training, resources and websites. This is in thematic order rather than alphabetical in order to assist with learning:-

Understanding Sexual Orientation

Sexual orientation can also be seen as a complex mix of an individual’s identity, attraction and behaviour. However, identity is the most important aspect as sexual orientation can only be determined by the individual; attraction and/or behaviour alone do not determine someone’s sexual orientation.

Some women prefer to refer to themselves as gay women rather than lesbian, although the word gay is most commonly used in reference to men.

Other Terms (Sexual Orientation/ Sexuality)

This includes the type(s) of partner a person is attracted to, the kinds of sexual activities they prefer and how they organise their relationships for example: monogamy or polyamory.

Understanding Gender & Sex

We recognise that this definition uses a medical model however it important to recognise that some people proudly identify with this term.

Understanding Transgender Identities & the Transgender Umbrella

Useful Terms (associated with ‘transsexual’)

Please note GRC is not required for individuals to be treated in line with their gender identity. This is only available to people over 18 and it is unlawful to ask to see someone’s Gender Recognition Certificate.

Useful Terms (associated with non-binary gender)

Many gender-neutral pronouns have been suggested for the English language, for example ‘zhe, zher, zhim’ and ‘ey, em, eir’. Individuals may prefer to use these pronouns but they are not in regular use and there is limited understanding.

Useful Terms (Cross-dressing)

Understanding Prejudice & Discrimination

It can also be used as an all-encompassing term to include the irrational fear, dislike or prejudice against bisexual people and transgender people.

Homophobia can manifest itself at different levels and may involve, but is not limited to verbal abuse and physical abuse. Institutional homophobia refers to the many ways in which government and other institutions and organisations discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation through legislation, policies and practice.

Transgender people can also experience homophobia when in same-sex relationships or for not conforming to gender norms.

Useful Terms (prejudice & discrimination)

The law is clear that the identity of the victim is irrelevant as to whether something is a hate crime or not. Individuals are protected based on identification, perception, and association. The motivation of the perpetrator is the key factor in defining a hate crime.

We recognise that language is constantly evolving.
https://www.lgbtyouth.org.uk/LGBTI-terminology