Terms you should know

Below are terms you should get to know. Our language is always changing and evolving so if you find yourself behind or unfamiliar with something, don't worry it happens to all of us. The best we can do is keep learning and adapt what we know. Don't feel discouraged just keep learning. 

Sexuality vs gender

Chances are when you hear discussions regarding either sexuality or gender the other will come up. It is very common for people to get the two mixed up and from an outside perspective it's easy to see why. Below you'll see definitions of terms used in the community and how to use them. 


Gender refers to someone's innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One's gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth. Gender is unique to each individual and is very personal. 


Sexuality refers to your sexual feelings, thoughts, attractions and behaviours towards other people. You can find other people physically, sexually or emotionally attractive. Sexuality is diverse, personal, and it changes from person to person just like gender does.

Gender terms

Gender changes from person to person and we are always learning more about gender so if you do not see your gender listed here it does not negatively reflect its validity. 


A person who is agender does not identify with any particular gender, or they may have no gender at all.


The prefix "cis" means "on this side of". Cisgender is an adjective that describes a person whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth. Cisgender is a term usually used to refer to men and women.


A person who identifies as genderqueer has a gender identity or expression that is not the same as society’s expectations for their assigned sex or assumed gender.

Genderqueer can also refer to a person who identifies outside of how society defines gender or someone who identifies with a combination of genders.

Gender expression

Gender expression refers to how a person expresses themselves outwardly. Someone might present as masculine, feminine or a combination of both. This involves clothing, pronouns, and accessories. 

Gender fluid

Someone who identifies as genderfluid has a gender identity and presentation that shifts between or outside of society’s expectations of binary gender.

Gender identity

Gender expression refers to how a person expresses themselves outwardly. Someone might present as masculine, feminine or a combination of both. This involves clothing, pronouns, and accessories. 


Nonbinary refers to someone that identifies outside the binary. They can use any pronouns and do not present any certain way. Anyone identifying as nonbinary can use any label they would like to. 


Pangender is a term for people who feel that they cannot be labeled as female or male in gender.


This gender identity term describes the experience of having multiple gender identities, simultaneously or over time.


The prefix "trans'" means "across from" or "on the other side of." Transgender is an adjective used to describe someone whose gender identity differs from the sex assigned at birth. This can include many genders such as nonbinary, pangender, agender, genderqueer, genderfluid, etc. Transgender is used as an umbrella term. Just because you identify as something other than cisgender does not mean you have to identify as transgender as well. Transgender people can use any pronouns they'd like and present however they please. Trans people do not look one certain way.

Two spirit

An indigenous term for someone who is both male and female and/or neither. 

More recently it has been more associated with being a third gender or the indigenous term for non-binary.

Sexuality terms

Just like gender, sexuality changes from person to person. Sexuality refers to who you are attracted to. This includes sexual, romantic, physical, and spiritual attraction. 


A term used to communicate sexual or romantic attraction to men, males, or masculinity. This term intentionally includes attraction to those who identify as men, male, or masculine, regardless of biology, anatomy, or sex assigned at birth.


Asexual identity or orientation includes individuals who don’t experience sexual attraction to others of any gender.


A romantic orientation the describes people who experience little or no romantic attraction, regardless of sex or gender.


A sexual orientation that describes those who experience sexual, romantic, or emotional attractions to people of more than one gender.


Those who experience romantic attraction, but not sexual attraction, to individuals of more than one gender.


On the asexual spectrum, this sexual orientation describes individuals who experience sexual attraction only under specific circumstances, such as after building a romantic or emotional relationship with a person.


This terms refers to the fact that sexuality, sexual attraction, and sexual behavior can change over time and be dependent on the situation.

It’s used to describe those who experience shifts in their sexuality, sexual attraction, or sexual behavior in different situations or throughout the course of their lifetime. You may hear someone describe their sexuality as “fluid.”


A term that describes individuals who experience sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction to people of the same or a similar gender.

Some gay-identified women prefer the term lesbian, while others prefer queer or gay. It’s also best to ask which word or term someone uses to describe themselves.


Graysexual is a term used to acknowledge the gray area on the sexuality spectrum for people who don’t explicitly and exclusively identify as asexual or aromantic.

Many people who identify as greysexual do experience some sexual attraction or desire, but perhaps not at the same level or frequency as those who identify their sexuality as being completely outside of the asexual spectrum.


A term that describes people who experience sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction to people of the “opposite” gender (e.g. male vs. female, man vs. woman) or a different gender.

Both cisgender and transgender identified people can be heterosexual. This sexual orientation category is commonly described as straight.


A term rooted in the fields of medicine and psychology that refers to individuals who experience sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction to people of the same or a similar gender.


A woman or female-identified person who experiences sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction to people of the same or a similar gender.

Some women who are lesbians may also refer to themselves as gay or queer, while others prefer the label lesbian.


term that describes individuals who can experience sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction to any person, regardless of that person’s gender, sex, or sexuality.


A term that describes individuals with a sexual orientation that involves sexual or romantic attraction to people with varying genders. Polysexual orientations include bisexualitypansexuality, omnisexuality, and queer, among many others.


An umbrella term that describes individuals who aren’t exclusively heterosexual. The term queer (the Q in LBGTQIA+), acknowledges that sexuality is a spectrum as opposed to a collection of independent and mutually exclusive categories.

Use of the word queer opens up options beyond lesbian, gay, and bisexual to individuals who don’t fit neatly into these categories or prefer a category that isn’t dependent on sex and gender.

While this term once had negative and derogatory connotations, queer has resurfaced as a common and socially acceptable way for LGBTQIA+ individuals to refer to themselves and their community.


The process of being curious about or exploring some aspect of sexuality or gender. Questioning can also be used as an adjective to describe someone who’s currently exploring their sexuality or gender.