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Queer English: 20 LGBTQIA+ Terms Everyone Should Know

LGBTQIA+ Terms To Know

Language is power, in ways more literal than most people think. When we speak, we exercise the power of language to transform reality. - Junot Diaz, Author 

We’ve all heard the saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” - a timeless adage that holds more truth today than ever before. Language is power, and the words we use shape our beliefs, prejudices, expectations, and, ultimately, our behavior.  


Language has the power to dictate and transform our realities - both individually and as a society. When we speak with kindness and acceptance, we can create a loving and inclusive world for everyone; in turn, when we speak with malice or hatred, we create a hostile world filled with division.  


Marginalized groups like the LGBTQIA+ community understand these truths better than anyone - we have an intricate and complex history of barriers, triumphs, and progress when it comes to language. Today, we’re going to explore this history by sharing the purpose and meaning behind twenty LGBTQIA+-related terms that everyone should know.  

Common LGBTQIA+ Terms


This acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual/Ally. It is a term used to describe the diverse group of people who identify as non-heterosexual or non-cisgender. The acronym has evolved over time to become more inclusive and representative of all identities within the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Sexual Orientation 

Sexual orientation refers to an individual's emotional and physical attraction to others, whether that be same-sex, opposite-sex, or both. The concept of sexual orientation emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a way to understand sexuality beyond the binary of heterosexuality. 

Gender Identity 

Gender identity refers to an individual's internal sense of their gender, which may or may not align with the sex they were assigned at birth.  

Coming Out 

Coming out is the process of sharing one's LGBTQIA+ identity with others, typically friends, family, or co-workers. It can be a difficult and emotional process, but can also provide a sense of relief and acceptance. 


Heterosexuality refers to a sexual orientation where individuals are attracted to those of the opposite sex. It is still considered the societal “norm” in many places and has historically been the dominant sexual orientation in Western culture. 


Homosexuality refers to a sexual orientation where individuals are attracted to those of the same sex.  


Bisexuality refers to a sexual orientation where individuals are attracted to both men and women. Like homosexuality, bisexuality has faced stigma and discrimination but has become more visible and accepted in recent years. 


Pansexuality refers to a sexual orientation where individuals are attracted to people regardless of their gender identity or biological sex. It is often considered similar to bisexuality but with a more inclusive focus on all genders and identities. 


Transgender refers to individuals whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. It is a diverse and complex identity that may or may not involve medically transitioning to the gender with which a person truly identifies. 


Cisgender refers to individuals whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth.  


Non-binary refers to individuals who do not identify exclusively as male OR female. Instead, a person who identifies as non-binary may go by more general pronouns such as they/them. 


Queer is an umbrella term used to describe all non-heterosexual and/or non-cisgender identities. It has been reclaimed by some members of the LGBTQ+ community and is often used as a way to challenge the traditional gender and sexuality binary. 


Intersex refers to individuals who are born with physical and/or biological sex characteristics that do not fit typical male or female categories. It is not a gender identity but a biological variation. 


Asexual refers to individuals who do not experience sexual attraction to other people or experience very little.  


An ally is someone who supports and advocates for LGBTQIA+ individuals without necessarily identifying as queer themselves. Allies can make a huge difference in creating safe and accepting spaces for the community. 

LGBTQIA+ Rights  

LGBTQIA+ Rights refers to the legal and social movements aimed at protecting and advancing the rights of queer individuals. It is an ongoing struggle to end discrimination, achieve equality, and promote acceptance and respect. 

Gender Expression 

Gender expression refers to the way in which an individual presents their gender identity to others through things like clothing, mannerisms, and speech.  


Drag refers to a form of entertainment where individuals dress in exaggerated or theatrical clothing and makeup to perform in shows or pageants. It has a rich history within the LGBTQIA+ community and is an important aspect of queer culture. 


Misgendered refers to when someone uses the wrong pronoun or gender identity when referring to someone else. It can be hurtful and invalidating, especially to transgender and non-binary individuals. 

Safe Space 

A safe space is a place where LGBTQ+ individuals can be themselves without fear of discrimination or harassment. 


Understanding the meanings of these terms and their proper usage helps us take the first step toward creating a more inclusive world. When we use appropriate language to describe and communicate with others, it makes everyone feel validated, seen, and respected. 


To learn more about what Be The Transformational Change is doing to educate and advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights, check out our website


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