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Queer Terminology

Folx with Faith uses the word queer and LGBTQIA+ interchangeably. We often get asked about why we use the word queer and in this blog we wanted to cover the use of the word queer and provide definitions for other commonly used terminology within the queer community.

Merriam Webster defines “queer” this way:

  1. a: differing in some way from what is usual or normal : ODD, STRANGE, WEIRD
  1. sometimes disparaging + offensive; relating to, or characterized by sexual or romantic attraction to members of one’s own sex :
    b: of, relating to, or characterized by sexual or romantic attraction that is not limited to people of a particular gender identity or sexual orientation
    d: of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity cannot be categorized as solely male or female : GENDERQUEER, NONBINARY
    e: of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity differs from the sex the person was identified as having at birth : TRANSGENDER

However, for the LGBTQIA+ community, we could use this definition: An umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities who are not heterosexual or cisgender.

The reclamation of the word “queer” is an illustration of how language is constantly evolving and changing. In the past, “queer” has been used as a pejorative term against those whose sexual orientations or gender identities deviated from the heteronormative cisgendered life experience. Its transformation began in earnest during the late 20th century when activists within the LGBTQIA+ community started to adopt the term as a badge of defiance and solidarity.

The following is a list of terminology that is commonly used within the queer communities. We have divided the list into categories:

Gender Identity Terms: Focusing on terms that describe one’s personal sense of their gender, which may or may not correspond to their sex assigned at birth. This section also includes pronoun variations.

Gender Expression Terms: Covering the external presentation of gender, including behavior, clothing, hairstyle, and voice, which may not necessarily align with societal expectations.

Sexual Orientation Terms: Related to the emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to other people.

Romantic Orientation Terms: Focusing specifically on emotional and romantic attraction, which can differ from sexual orientation.

Discriminatory and Social Issue Terms: Terms related to behaviors and systems that discriminate against or oppress individuals based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Cultural and Community-Specific Terms: Terms that are specific to cultural identities or roles within various communities, including historical and social contexts.

Medical and Psychological Terms: Terminology used in healthcare and psychological contexts, especially concerning gender transition and mental health.

Social and Relationship Dynamic Terms: Terms that explain different types of relationships and social interactions within the queer community.

List of Terms Alphabetically



Gender Identity Terms

Agender: Someone who identifies as having no gender or being genderless.

Autigender: A subcategory of neurogender which is used to describe a gender experience that is deeply influenced by one’s autism.

Bigender: Identifying as two genders, whether simultaneously or varying between them at different times.

Cisgender: A term used to describe a person whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Demiboy: Someone partially, but not wholly, identifying as a boy or man, regardless of their assigned sex at birth. May identify as another gender in addition to being partially a boy.

Demigirl: Someone who partially identifies as a girl or woman, regardless of their assigned sex at birth. May also identify with another gender.

Gender Apathetic: A person who does not strongly identify with any gender or is indifferent to the idea of gender identities.

Genderfluid: Describes a gender identity that varies over time. A genderfluid person’s gender expression and identity can change, either situationally or over a longer period.

Genderqueer: A gender identity that is not exclusively male or female and exists outside of the traditional binary gender framework.

Intersex: Refers to individuals who are born with physical sex characteristics that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies.

Neurogender: An umbrella term for gender identities that are significantly influenced by one’s neurological makeup or neurodivergence. This term is often used within the context of autistic and other neurodivergent communities to express a unique relationship between neurotype and gender.

Nonbinary: An identity for a person who does not identify strictly as a man or a woman. Non-binary can be used as an umbrella term encompassing many gender identities.

Polygender: Identifying with multiple genders simultaneously. Not limited to any specific number of gender identities.

Third Gender: A category used in some societies that recognize a gender category apart from man and woman, for individuals who are seen as neither typically male nor female.

Transgender: Refers to a person whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth.

Trigender: A person who experiences three gender identities, which could be male, female, and a third gender, shifting between them.

Two-Spirit: A term traditionally used by Native American cultures to describe a person who embodies characteristics of both male and female genders, or a distinct societal gender role.



Pronoun Variations

He/Him/His: Traditional pronouns for someone who identifies as male.

She/Her/Hers: Traditional pronouns for someone who identifies as female.

Fae/Faer/Faers: Non-traditional, gender-neutral pronouns that some individuals prefer to reflect a unique identity that does not align with conventional gender pronouns.

They/Them/Theirs: Gender-neutral pronouns used for someone who does not identify strictly as male or female. These can be used in the singular form.

Xe/Xem/Xyrs: Alternative gender-neutral pronouns that are used similarly to “they/them” for those who do not wish to be associated with the traditional gender binary.

Ze/Hir/Hirs: Alternate gender-neutral pronouns that some non-binary or genderqueer people might prefer.

Ze/Zir/Zirs: Similar to “ze/hir,” these are also alternative gender-neutral pronouns used to avoid specifying gender.

Ey/Em/Eirs: Gender-neutral pronouns that are less commonly used but serve the same purpose as “they/them” for those seeking alternatives.

Ve/Ver/Vis: Another set of alternative gender-neutral pronouns, used to respect a person’s gender identity when it does not conform to the traditional binary.



Gender Expression Terms

Androgynous: Pertaining to a presentation or identity that is gender ambiguous, blending or alternating between what society typically expects of men and women.

Boi: A term used within the queer communities to signify a variety of gender expressions and identities, typically younger, can be more playful and less rigid than traditional butch roles.

Butch: A gender expression that is strongly aligned with traditional notions of masculinity, typically used within the lesbian community but applicable to others as well.

Chapstick Lesbian: A term used to describe lesbians who have a more casual or moderate approach to feminine presentation, not as feminine as “high femme” but not as masculine as “butch.”

Drag Queen/King: Individuals who perform in exaggerated gender attire typically associated with the opposite sex, often for entertainment purposes.

Femme: A gender expression that leans towards femininity but can be used by individuals of any gender identity, not just cisgender women.

Gender Bending: Deliberately crossing or “bending” gender boundaries by mixing and challenging traditional gender roles and presentations through fashion, behavior, and personal expression.

Gender Nonconforming: A broad term that refers to people who do not follow other people’s ideas or stereotypes about how they should look or act based on the female or male sex they were assigned at birth.

Gender Play: The act of experimenting with gender presentation, typically to challenge conventional gender norms or explore gender identity and fluidity.

High Femme: An intensified form of femme presentation that emphasizes traditionally feminine appearance and behaviors to a heightened degree.

Lipstick Lesbian: A term used to describe lesbians who prefer a distinctly feminine presentation, often embracing traditionally feminine attire and aesthetics.

Masc: Short for masculine, it refers to a gender expression that leans towards masculinity and can be adopted by individuals of any gender identity, not just cisgender men.

Passing: Being perceived by others as the gender one identifies with, regardless of birth sex.

Soft Butch: A gender expression that is a mix of both butch (traditionally masculine) and femme (traditionally feminine) styles, often within the lesbian community.

Stone Butch: A specific type of butch identity within the lesbian community that may avoid receiving physical touch and affection traditionally regarded as feminine during intimate relationships.

Two-Spiritsee Cultural and Community Specific Terms



Sexual Orientation Terms

Allosexual: Someone who experiences sexual attraction to others, used as an antonym to asexual.

Androsexual/Androphilic: Attraction to masculinity, regardless of whether the individual is cisgender, transgender, or non-binary.

Asexual: Sometimes referred to as “Ace,” is a person who experiences little to no sexual attraction to others.

Bisexual: Attraction to more than one gender, not necessarily to the same extent or in the same way.

Demisexual: A person who does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone.

Gay: Typically refers to a male-identified person who is attracted to other male-identified people, but can be used broadly for homosexual attraction.

Graysexual: A person who occasionally experiences sexual attraction or experiences sexual attraction under specific circumstances, often seen as part of the asexual spectrum.

Gynesexual/Gynosexual: Attraction to femininity, regardless of whether the individual is cisgender, transgender, or non-binary.

Heterosexual: Attraction to people of the opposite gender.

Homosexual: A general term for attraction to individuals of the same gender.

Lesbian: Typically refers to a female-identified person who is attracted to other female-identified people.

Omnisexual: Similar to pansexual, but with an acknowledgment of the gender of potential partners as part of the attraction.

Pansexual: Attraction to someone regardless of their gender identity.

Polysexual: Attraction to multiple genders, though not necessarily all.

Sapiosexual: Attraction to intelligence, regardless of gender.

Sexual Fluidity: The concept that an individual’s sexual orientation may change or be flexible over time, allowing for attraction to different genders or expressions.

Skoliosexual: Attraction primarily to non-binary identified individuals.

Straight: Slang for heterosexual, meaning attraction to people of the opposite gender.



Romantic Orientation Terms

Alloromantic: Experiencing romantic attraction in a way that society considers typical or normative.

Aromantic: A person who experiences little to no romantic attraction to others, regardless of sexual orientation.

Biromantic: Experiencing romantic attraction to two or more genders, not necessarily to the same extent or in the same way.

Demiromantic: Feeling romantic attraction only after forming a deep emotional bond with someone. This can occur irrespective of the person’s gender.

Grayromantic: Experiencing romantic attraction only under specific circumstances, or only occasionally, often considered to be on the aromantic spectrum.

Heteroromantic: Experiencing romantic attraction to individuals of a different gender.

Homoromantic: Experiencing romantic attraction towards individuals of the same gender.

Panromantic: Experiencing romantic attraction to people regardless of their gender identity.

Polyromantic: Attracted to multiple, but not necessarily all, genders in a romantic way.

Recipromantic: A romantic orientation where an individual only experiences romantic attraction when they know another person is romantically interested in them first.



Discriminatory and Social Terms

Ableism: Discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities or who are perceived to have disabilities.

Ageism: Prejudice or discrimination against individuals based on their age.

Binarism: Discrimination against people who do not fit into the male or female binary, as in non-binary or genderqueer people.

Biphobia: Fear, hatred, or discrimination against bisexual individuals, often stemming from misconceptions or stereotypes about bisexuality.

Cissexism: Assuming that being cisgender (gender identity matches sex assigned at birth) is the norm, which marginalizes and invalidates transgender and non-binary identities.

Christo-Centric “Side” Terms: Within Christian Religion there are often debates about sexuality with “sides.” People in this religion may hear terms like “Side A,” “Side B,” “Side X,” or “Side Y.” At Folx with Faith, we believe that all humans are created with sacred worth and are expressions of divine love. This truth is not up for debate. However, since these terms are often used within Christian communities, we wanted to highlight them here. Side A (Affirmation of Sexuality) Side B (Forced Celibacy), and Side X and Side Y are both associated with attempts at changing one’s sexuality or gender identity. Science has shown no efficacy for changing sexuality and that attempts at changing sexuality or gender identity has severe negative consequences. We highlight these terms in case our readers run across them. also see Conversion Therapy

Clobber Passages: A set of six short passages from the Christian Scriptures that have been taken out of historical context and were traditionally used to condemn homosexuality. These texts are often cited in theological debates about the morality of same-sex relationships within Christian communities.

Conversion Therapy: A discredited and harmful practice aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity to conform to societal norms. Also see Ex-gay Narrative

Deadnaming: The act of referring to a transgender or non-binary person by their birth name instead of their chosen name, often used without the person’s consent and can be emotionally damaging.

Erasurism: The exclusion or erasure of the identity and experiences of particular groups within policies, practices, or discussions, particularly affecting non-visible disabilities, bisexuality, or non-binary identities.

Ex-gay Narrative: The belief and associated narrative that a person can and should change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual, often associated with religious-based conversion therapy. Also see Conversion Therapy

Gatekeeping: When individuals or groups control, and often limit, access to resources and rights by determining who qualifies within a certain identity or status.

Gender Policing: The enforcement of traditional gender norms on an individual who is perceived as not conforming to accepted gender roles.

Heteronormativity: see Social & Relationship Dynamics

Homophobia: Fear, hatred, or mistrust of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals, leading to discrimination, harassment, and violence against these groups.

Intersectionality: A framework for understanding how aspects of a person’s social and political identities combine to create different modes of discrimination and privilege.

Misgendering: The act of addressing or referring to someone using words, especially pronouns or forms of address, that do not correctly reflect the gender with which they identify.

Racism: Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.

Sexism: Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.

Spiritual Violence: Harm done to LGBTQIA+ individuals through religious teachings that denigrate or negate their identities, often resulting in significant emotional and psychological distress.

TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist): Individuals who identify as feminists but exclude the rights of transgender people from their advocacy of women’s rights, often rejecting the idea that transgender women are women.

Tokenism: The practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to be inclusive to members of minority groups, especially by recruiting a small number of people from underrepresented groups in order to give the appearance of equality within a workforce.

Transphobia: Fear, hatred, or discrimination against transgender individuals, often stemming from societal misunderstandings or prejudices about gender identity.



Cultural and Community-Specific Terms

Ally: A person who supports and stands up for the rights of LGBTQIA+ people but does not identify as LGBTQIA+ themselves.

Affirming Church: Churches that openly welcome and fully include queer individuals in all aspects of religious life without reservation about their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Ball Culture: A subculture within the LGBTQIA+ community that originated in New York City, involving dance, performance, and vogueing, largely among African American and Latino communities.

Chosen Family: see Social & Relationship Dynamics

Drag Culture: A performance art among people who dress in drag (drag queens and drag kings), often as a means of self-expression, entertainment, or for drag performance competitions.

Gay Village: Geographic areas with a significant LGBTQIA+ population, serving as a cultural center for LGBTQIA+ identities, businesses, and nightlife.

Gender Reveal: A celebration or announcement (increasingly seen as controversial within queer and trans communities) revealing an expected baby’s sex as assigned at birth, often conflated with gender.

Inclusive Theology: A theological approach that actively seeks to include people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, often questioning traditional interpretations of scripture that exclude LGBTQIA+ people.

Intersectional Ministry: A pastoral approach that considers multiple identities and experiences, including sexuality, race, and gender, striving to address the complex realities of congregation members.

Kiki: A term originating from the Ball Culture used to describe a gathering of friends for the purpose of gossiping and chit-chat, often informal compared to a ball.

LGBTQIA+: An acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual or Ally, used to describe the community of people whose sexual or romantic orientation or gender identity doesn’t correspond to societal norms.

Liberation Theology: This is a movement in Christian theology that emphasizes social concern for the poor and political liberation for oppressed peoples. In its queer adaptation, it advocates for the liberation of LGBTQIA+ individuals from societal and religious oppression.

Non-Binary: see Gender Identity Terms

Pride: Refers to the events and attitude that promote the dignity, equal rights, and self-affirmation of LGBTQIA+ people as a social group. Pride activities often take place in June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots.

Queer: An umbrella term that can refer to any non-normative (non-heterosexual) sexual orientation. Also used by those who reject specific labels about their sexual orientation and gender identity. Once a pejorative term for LGBTQIA+ individuals, now reclaimed by many within the community for its inclusivity and defiance.

Queer Liberation Theology: A branch of liberation theology that integrates the struggle for LGBTQIA+ rights with the broader fight against oppression, focusing on liberation from societal and religious structures that marginalize queer identities. Also see Liberation Theology

Queer Theology: A theological method that interprets religious texts, traditions, and beliefs through the lens of queer perspectives. It challenges traditional heteronormative readings and understandings of scripture, and seeks to explore and affirm the experiences of LGBTQIA+ individuals within religious contexts. This theology often questions binary gender constructions and explores the divine beyond traditional gendered language, presenting an inclusive approach to spirituality and religious practice.

Queer Muslim Reformation: A movement within Islam that seeks to interpret the religion’s texts and practices in ways that affirm the presence and rights of LGBTQIA+ Muslims.

Safe Space: A term used to describe places created for individuals who are marginalized to come together to communicate regarding their experiences with marginalization, typically free from the oppressions and harms seen in wider society.

Stonewall Riots: A series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. They are widely considered to constitute the most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBTQIA+ rights in the United States.

Rainbow Christology (Rainbow Theology): This approach reinterprets Christ’s life and teachings in a way that highlights themes of diversity and acceptance, portraying Jesus as a figure of radical inclusivity.

Two-Spirit: A term traditionally used by Native American people to recognize individuals who possess qualities or fulfill roles of both genders.

Two-Spirit Theology: A spiritual tenet among Native American communities. Two-Spirit theology incorporates this traditional third-gender role into a broader theological framework, exploring its spiritual and cultural significance.



Medical and Psychological Terms

Affirmative Therapy: A therapeutic approach that recognizes and respects the client’s sexual orientation and gender identity, promoting a positive view of LGBTQIA+ identities and addressing the negative influences of homophobia, transphobia, and heteronormativity.

Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS): A condition in which an individual who is genetically male (XY chromosomes) is resistant to male hormones (androgens). As a result, the person has some or all of the physical traits of a woman, but the genetic makeup of a man.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD): A mental disorder characterized by obsessive focus on a perceived flaw in appearance. The flaw might be minor or imagined, but the person may feel so embarrassed, ashamed, and anxious that they avoid many social situations.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): A form of psychotherapy that treats problems and boosts happiness by modifying dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and thoughts. It is often used to treat anxiety and depression, among other conditions, and can be adapted to support issues facing LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Dysphoria: Often specified as gender dysphoria, this is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity.

Endocrinology: The branch of medicine dealing with the endocrine system, its diseases, and its specific secretions called hormones, often involved in medical transitions for transgender patients.

Faith Affirming Therapy: Therapeutic practices that integrate a person’s faith and spiritual beliefs with psychological counseling, aiming to support the mental health of LGBTQIA+ individuals without compromising their religious or spiritual identity.

Gender Affirming Surgery: Surgical procedures that alter a person’s physical appearance and biological sex characteristics to more closely align with their gender identity. This includes a variety of surgeries such as facial feminization surgery, mastectomy, vaginoplasty, and phalloplasty.

Gender Dysphoria: Clinically significant distress caused when a person’s assigned birth gender is not the same as the one with which they identify. According to the American Psychiatric Association, gender dysphoria involves a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which they identify.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Medications containing female or male hormones to replace the hormones the body no longer makes after medical transition, commonly prescribed to transgender individuals during transition.

Intersex: see Gender Expression Terms

Minority Stress: The relationship between minority and dominant values and resultant conflict with the social environment experienced by minority group members. In LGBTQIA+ contexts, it is stress inherent in developing a positive identity against societal attitudes and institutional discrimination that perceive queer identities negatively.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape, or other violent personal assault.

Psychotherapy: The use of psychological methods, particularly when based on regular personal interaction, to help a person change behavior and overcome problems in desired ways. It aims to improve an individual’s well-being and mental health, to resolve or mitigate troublesome behaviors, beliefs, compulsions, thoughts, or emotions.

Queer Theory: An approach to literary and cultural study that rejects traditional categories of gender and sexuality.



Social and Relationship Dynamics:

Allyship: The practice of being supportive and standing in solidarity with marginalized groups, often including the LGBTQIA+ community.

Chosen Family: A term used to describe close-knit relationships formed among individuals who are not biologically related but who consider themselves to be family, often common among LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Closeted: Refers to an individual who is not open about their sexual orientation or gender identity, often due to fear of rejection, discrimination, or harm.

Coming Out: The process of revealing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity to others, which can be a significant and ongoing experience for LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Compulsory Heterosexuality: The societal assumption that heterosexuality is the default and expected orientation for individuals, leading to the marginalization of LGBTQIA+ identities.

Folks (Folx): The term “folx” or “folks” is commonly used within the queer community to identify groups of people without being gender specific. Often replacing the terms like “guys” or “girls” in conversation.

Dyadic Relationship: A relationship between two people, often used in discussions around monogamous partnerships.

Fluidity: The concept that sexual orientation and gender identity can be flexible and may change over time for some individuals.

Heteronormativity: The societal expectation that heterosexuality is normal and natural, often leading to the marginalization of LGBTQIA+ individuals and relationships.

Internalized Homophobia/Transphobia: Negative attitudes, beliefs, or stereotypes about homosexuality or transgender identities that are internalized by LGBTQIA+ individuals, often as a result of societal stigma.

Monogamy: A relationship structure in which an individual is committed to one partner at a time, often contrasted with polyamory or open relationships.

Non-Monogamy: A relationship structure in which individuals may have multiple romantic or sexual partners simultaneously, with the consent and knowledge of all parties involved.

Polyamory: A relationship structure in which individuals may have multiple romantic or sexual partners simultaneously, with the consent and knowledge of all parties involved.

Queerplatonic: A deep emotional and intimate relationship that transcends traditional notions of platonic friendships, but does not conform to romantic expectations.

Relationship Anarchy: A philosophy or approach to relationships that rejects hierarchical structures and prioritizes autonomy, consent, and the individual needs and desires of each participant.

Social Support: Emotional, instrumental, or informational assistance provided by friends, family, and community members, which can be particularly important for LGBTQIA+ individuals facing discrimination or marginalization.

We did our best to compile a robust list of queer-specific terminology.
Did we miss something? Want to add something to the list? Contact us and let us know!

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List of Queer-Centric Terms



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