Glossary

Agender: Relating to, or being a person who has an internal sense of being neither male nor female nor some combination of male and female : of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity is genderless or neutral.[1] In the print version of the OED of 1997, the word doesn’t exist. However, the online OED of 2020 defines it as Designating a person who does not identify as belonging to a particular gender; of or relating to such people.[2]

Androgynous: 1: having the characteristics or nature of both male and female 2a neither specifically feminine nor masculine  2b suitable to or for either sex  3: having traditional male and female roles obscured or reversed[3]

Asegi: Cherokee. Translates to ‘strange’, similar use to ‘queer’. Used for “people who fall outside of men’s and women’s roles or who mix men’s and women’s roles.”[4]

Assigned female at birth (AFAB): A term that refers to people who were assigned the sex of female at birth; replaces the earlier terms of “natal female” and “genetic female”.

Assigned male at birth (AMAB): A term that refers to people who were assigned the sex of male at birth; replaces the earlier terms of “natal male” and “genetic male”.[5]

Butch: A gender expression that fits societal definitions of masculinity. Usually used by queer women and trans people, particularly by lesbians. Some consider “butch” to be its own gender identity.[6]

Cisgender: Designating a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds to his or her sex at birth; of or relating to such persons. Contrasted with transgender.[7]

Femme: Historically used in the lesbian community, it is being increasingly used by other LGBTQIA people to describe gender expressions that reclaim and disrupt traditional constructs of femininity.[8]

The following ‘Gender’ prefix definitions are all from the same source: See footnote #7.  

Gender binary: The concept that there are only two genders, man and woman, and that everyone must be one or the other. Also implies the assumption that gender is biologically determined.

Gender-fluid: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a person who does not identify with a single fixed gender; of or relating to a person having or expressing a fluid or unfixed gender identity. 

Gender identity: One’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 non-conforming: A broad term referring to people who do not behave in a way that conforms to the traditional expectations of their gender, or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a category. 

Gender Outlaw: A person who refuses to be defined by conventional definitions of male and female. 

Genderqueer: Genderqueer people typically reject notions of static categories of gender and embrace a fluidity of gender identity and often, though not always, sexual orientation. People who identify as “genderqueer” may see themselves as being both male and female, neither male nor female or as falling completely outside these categories. [9]

Non-binary: Designating a person who does not acknowledge or fit the conventional notions of male and female gender, and instead identifies as being of another or no gender, or a combination of genders; (also) of or relating to such a person.[10] (It seems this is now more common than genderqueer but to me the term is more clinical than is genderqueer, more like saying someone is hetersexual rather than straight.)

Queer: Historically, queer has been used as an epithet/slur against people whose gender, gender expression and/or sexuality do not conform to dominant expectations. Some people have reclaimed the word queer and self identify in opposition to assimilation (adapted from “Queering the Field”). For some, this reclamation is a celebration of not fitting into social norms. Not all people who identify as LGBTQIA use “queer” to describe themselves. The term is often considered hateful when used by those who do not identify as LGBTQIA.[11]

Queer is a colloquial term used more by my peers within our community as it is less clinical and is an act of claiming the word back from the insult it has been in the past. 

Sex: a medically constructed categorization. Sex is often assigned based on the appearance of the genitalia, either in ultrasound or at birth.[12]

See the above terms of AFAB and AMAB for the specifics of that usage. No longer do forms ask Sex: Male or Female. It’s worth looking at when Sex no longer referred to Gender within mainstream western bureaucracy.  

Tomboy: A girl or young woman who acts or dresses in what is considered to be a boyish way, esp. one who likes rough or energetic activities conventionally more associated with boys.[13]

Transition: A term sometimes used to refer to the process—social, legal, and/or medical—one goes through to discover and/or affirm one’s gender identity. This may, but does not always, include taking hormones; having surgeries; and changing names, pronouns, identification documents, and more. Many individuals choose not to or are unable to transition for a wide range of reasons both within and beyond their control. The validity of an individual’s gender identity does not depend on any social, legal, and/or medical transition; the self-identification itself is what validates the gender identity.[14]

Transgender: Often shortened to “trans”. Designating a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond to that person’s sex at birth, or which does not otherwise conform to conventional notions of sex and gender. Although now typically used as an umbrella term which includes any or all non-conventional gender identities.[15]

From a UK site: https://www.stonewallscotland.org.uk/about-us/news/qtipoc-organisations-you-should-know-about

  • BAME – Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic
  • POC – People of Colour
  • QTIPOC – Queer, Trans, Intersex People of Colour
  • LGBTQ – Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Queer


[1] “Agender.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agender. Accessed 30 Sep. 2020.

[2] “agender, adj.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, September 2020, oed.com/view/Entry/47450702. Accessed 30 September 2020.

[3]  “Androgynous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/androgynous. Accessed 30 September 2020.

[4] Asegi Stories: Cherokee Queer and Two-Spirit Memory. Driskill, Qwo-Li. p.6

[5] Life on the Gender Border: Caitlyn Drinkwater. Both terms come from this thesis https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/2292/53065/Drinkwater-2020-thesis.pdf

[6] https://lgbtqia.ucdavis.edu/educated/glossary Accessed 30 September 2020.

[7] cisgender, adj. and n.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, September 2020, oed.com/view/Entry/35015487. Accessed 30 September 2020.

[8] https://lgbtqia.ucdavis.edu/educated/glossary. Accessed 30 September 2020.

[9] https://www.portlandoregon.gov/index.cfm?c=78738&a=730061 Accessed 30 September 2020.

[10] “non-binary, adj.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, September 2020, oed.com/view/Entry/74216458. Accessed 30 September 2020.

[11] https://lgbtqia.ucdavis.edu/educated/glossary

[12] https://lgbtqia.ucdavis.edu/educated/glossary

[13] “tomboy, n. and adj.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, September 2020, oed.com/view/Entry/203097. Accessed 30 September 2020.

[14] https://www.portlandoregon.gov/index.cfm?c=78738&a=730061 Accessed 30 September 2020.

[15] “transgender, adj. and n.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, September 2020, oed.com/view/Entry/247649. Accessed 30 September 2020.

Published by Sarah Leamy

Sarah Leamy, MFA, is an award-winning author of both travel books and novels as well as a photographer, presenter, and a bit of a wanderer. She has lived in England, Germany, Spain, Guatemala and the Southwest of the US. She is the founder and editor of Wanderlust, a travel journal publishing international travel writing, photos and trip reports. Find out more at www.sarahleamy.com

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