What does it mean? Some helpful vocab

By Star Schneider ‘16Copy Editor

Note: These are just a few common terms. There are many others that fit into these categories, and please keep in mind that their definitions and locations are fluid! The definitions offered here are just a rough guide. Please refer to the article to the left complicating labels as a whole.

Many people are unfamiliar with the terms used to describe different forms of sexual, gender, and romantic identification. Though these explanations are by no means definitive (different people may use these same words and mean very different things), nor is this meant to be a comprehensive list of all terms (anyone who tells you they have a definitive list of all terms is probably lying), this list is meant to serve as a very general guide for reference to explain these terms to the uninitiated. Think of it as a way to place you in the region of what people are talking about; if you’re unsure about the ways in which someone self-identifies, ask them.

Binary: Term used to describe a system in which there are only two options, such as the gender binary, which refers to the idea that there are only two genders (male/female, man/woman, masculine/feminine) and that all individuals must or do fit into one category.

Sexual identification: Sexuality, or sexual identification or orientation, usually refers to a person’s sexual interest as opposed to their romantic interest.

Queer: Queer is an all-encompassing term for gender and sexual minorities, used to describe multisexual identifications as well as to describe those who feel no other labels adequately describe them.

Asexual: Asexuality refers to experiencing little to no sexual drive; however, this does not necessarily mean there is no physical aspect to a relationship.

Pansexual: Pansexual refers to someone who experiences sexual attraction to people of all gender and sexual identities. Can be synonymous with omnisexual.

Romantic identification: This term usually refers to a person’s romantic identity, focusing on romantic relationships as distinct from sexual or platonic relationship.

Panromantic: Panromantic refers to someone who experiences romantic attraction to people of all gender identifications and identities. Can be synonymous with omniromantic.

Polyamory: Polyamory refers to honest relationships with multiple individuals, but does not necessarily suggest that all individuals are in relationships with each other (i.e. open relationships are polyamorous)

Aromantic: Aromantic describes a person who experiences little to no romantic attraction; converse to asexuality, this does not mean an aromantic individual experiences no sexual drive.

Gender identification: Different from gender, which is a social or legal status, and biological sex, which refers to physical gender traits. Gender identification is based on how a person feels about themselves regardless of these outside factors.

Intersex: Intersex is the condition in which a person is born with sexual anatomy that does not fit female or male definitions.

Trans*: Trans* usually describes a person who doesn’t identify with their biological sex at birth. Sometimes it is used as an umbrella-term.

Transgender: Transgender describes a person who does not identify with their birth gender but does still identify within the binary gender norm.

Transsexual: Transsexual, while historically similar in use to ‘transgender,’ is now typically used to describe a person who is transitioned to another gender.

MTF: Short for male-to-female, refers to a transgendered individual who identifies as female. Generally synonymous with trans female/woman.

FTM: Short for female-to-male, refers to a transgendered individual who identifies as male. Generally synonymous with trans male/man.

PGP: Short for “preferred gender pronouns,” PGPs are the pronouns someone prefers as a reference to themselves in the third person. For instance, someone whose PGPs are Zie/Zir/Zir’s, then someone might say, “Zie is meeting us at the library later.”

Genderqueer: Genderqueer is a term used to describe people who feel that they are neither male nor female, but instead may have traits of both.

Bigendered: Bigendered is a word used to describe someone who feels they are two-gendered, (i.e. both male and female or otherwise).

Genderneutral: Genderneutral is used to describe a person who feels they are neither male nor female (either neutral-gendered or non-gendered). Genderneutral pronouns include “they” or “them” as well as the lesser-known “Zie” and “Hir.”

As previously stated, this list is not at all definitive. This is merely to just provide a taste of the diversity of terms and vocabulary available. There many more terms out there, and we strongly encourage researching them yourself! Also, remember that terms don’t necessarily mean the same thing to everyone, so if you’re unsure about what someone means when they use a term, make sure to ask them!


Here are some helpful websites that provide more terms and phrases, alongside some useful resources: