Gender binary (also known as gender binarism, binarism, or ambiguously genderism) is the classification of gender into two distinct, opposite forms of masculine and feminine, whether by social system or cultural belief. Most cultures use a gender binary, having two genders (boys/men and girls/women).
In this binary model, sex, gender, and sexuality may be assumed by default to align, with aspects of one’s gender inherently linked to one’s genetic or gamete-based sex, or with one’s sex assigned at birth. For example, when a male is born, gender binarism may assume the male will be masculine in appearance, character traits, and behavior, including having a heterosexual attraction to females. These aspects may include expectations of dressing, behavior, sexual orientation, names or pronouns, preferred restroom, or other qualities. These expectations may reinforce negative attitudes, bias, and discrimination towards people who display expressions of gender variance or nonconformity or whose gender identity is incongruent with their birth sex.
As we all know by now, gender, sexual orientation, and romantic preferences all span across a spectrum. And thanks to language constantly evolving, this means there are many more terms people can use to describe themselves that go well beyond just “straight” or “gay” and “male” or “female.”
But because sexuality and gender identity is so nuanced, it’s important to stay informed and knowledgeable about inclusive language so you can continue to provide a safe space for those around you. Especially since LGBTQ+ people can oftentimes be demonized for simply being themselves.
So whether you are one of the identities below or just want to be a better ally, read on to learn more about LGBTQ+ terms that are absolutely essential to know.
A list of a bunch of different genders & sexualities (as well as a few other LGBT+ terms) and their definitions
Romantic Orientation – Who you are romantically attracted to meaning wanting to be in a romantic relationship with and is unrelated to sexual attraction.
Sexual Orientation – Who you are sexually attracted to meaning who you get turned on by or who you would want to engage in sexual behaviors with.
*note all listed below are applicable also to romantic orientations. These take the prefix of the word and the ending -romantic, i.e. heteroromantic, panromantic, aromantic.
Heterosexual – The attraction to a gender different from their own (commonly used to describe someone who is gender binary [female or male] attracted to the other binary gender).
Homosexual – The attraction to a gender the same as their own (commonly used to describe someone who is gender binary [female or male] attracted to the same binary gender). Sometimes referred to as gay.
Lesbian – Women who are attracted only to other women
Bisexual – When you are attracted to two or more genders. This term is generally used to describe being attracted to men and women, but can apply to being attracted to any two or more genders. Note that you do not have to be equally attracted to each gender.
Pansexual – When you are attracted to all genders and/or do not concern gender when you are attracted towards someone
Bicurious – People who are open to experiment with genders that are not only their own, but do not know if they are open to forming any sort of relationship with multiple genders.
Polysexual – When you are attracted to many genders
Monosexual – Being attracted to only one gender
Allosexual – When you are not asexual (attracted to at least one gender)
Androsexual – Being attracted to masculine gender presentation
Gynosexual – Being attracted to feminine gender presentation
Questioning – People who are debating their own sexuality/gender
Asexual – Not experiencing sexual attraction (note that you can also be aromantic and you do not necessarily have to be asexual and aromantic at the same time). Sometimes the term, ace, is used to describe asexuals.
Demisexual – When you only experience sexual attraction after forming a strong emotional bond first or a romantic bond
Grey Asexual – When you only experience attraction rarely, on a very low scale, or only under certain circumstances
Perioriented – When your sexual and romantic orientation targets the same gender (for example being heteromantic and heterosexual or being biromantic and bisexual)
Varioriented – When your sexual and romantic orientations do not target the same set of genders (for example being heteromantic and bisexual or being homoromantic and pansexual)
Heteronormative – The belief that heterosexuality is the norm and that sex, gender, sexuality, and gender roles all align
Erasure – Ignoring the existance of genders and sexualities in the middle of the spectrum
Cishet – Someone who is both cisgendered and heterosexual. This is sometimes used as a slur.
Polyamorous – An umbrella term referring to people who have or are open to have consensually have relationships with multiple people at the same time
Monoamorous – People who have or or open to have relationships with only one other person at a time. The term, monogamous, is also sometimes used.
Queer – A reclaimed slur for anybody in the LGBT+ community or who do not identify as cisgender and/or heterosexual/heteromantic
Ally – A supporter of the LGBT+ community that does not identify as LGBT+
Gender & Sex:
Sex – Your assigned gender at birth and/or the gender of your reproductive organs
Gender – Where you feel that you personally fall on the spectrum between male and female. Commonly people identify as male or female, but some fall in the middle or move throughout the spectrum.
Cisgender – When you identify with the gender you were assigned at birth
Transgender – When you identify with a gender different than that you were assigned at birth
Transsexual – When you have had Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS) to change the sexual organs you were born with to that of a different gender.
*note that you will sometimes see an astrid after Trans (Trans*) which is meant to include both transgendered and transsexual individuals
Male to Female (MtF) – When somebody that is assigned as a male at birth identifies as a female
Female to Male (FtM) – When somebody that is assigned as a female at birth identifies as a male
Binary – The genders at each end of the gender spectrum (male and female)
Non-Binary – An umbrella term for genders that fall somewhere in the middle of the gender spectrum and are neither strictly male or female. This can be used as a gender identification without further explanation. Sometimes the term, genderqueer, is used.
Genderfluid – Moving between genders or having a fluctuating gender identity
Agender – Not identifying with any gender. Sometimes referred to as being genderless or gendervoid
Bigender – Identifying as two genders, commonly (but not exclusively) male and female. Sometimes you feel like both genders at the same time and sometimes you fluctuate.
Polygender – When you identify with multiple genders at once. Sometimes referred to as multigender.
Neutrois – When you identify as agender, neither male nor female, and/or genderless
Gender Apathetic – When you really do not identify nor care about any particular gender. You are fine passing off as whatever and you really do not have an opinion towards your own gender.
Androgyne – This term overlaps a lot between gender identification and presentation. It can be used to describe others and as an identification. This term is used to describe people who are neither male nor female or are both male and female. Basically anyone who does not fit into a binary gender category.
Intergender – Somebody who’s gender is somewhere between male and female
Demigender – When you feel as if you are one part a defined gender and one or more parts an undefined gender. Terms can include demigirl, demiboy, demiagender, ect.
Greygender – Somebody with a weak gender identification of themselves
Aporagender – Somebody with a strong gender identification of themselves that is non-binary
Maverique – A non-binary gender that exists outside of the orthodox social bounds of gender
Novigender – A gender that is super complex and impossible to describe in a single term
Designated gender – A gender assigned at birth based on an individuals sex and/or what gender society perceives a person to be
AFAB – Assigned Female At Birth
AMAB – Assigned Male At Birth
Gender roles – Certain behaviors an activities expected/considered acceptable of people in a particular society based upon their designated gender
Gender Presentation – The gender you present yourself to others. This is sometimes referred to as gender expression
Transitioning – The process of using medical means to change your sex
Intersex – A biological difference in sex that is when people are born with genitals, gonads, and/or chromosomes that do not match up exactly with male or female. Intersex individuals can have any romantic/sexual orientation and can have any gender identification. Intersex individuals are about as common as redheads.
Dyadic – Someone who is not intersex and when their genitals, gonads, and chromosomes can all match into either a male or female category
Trans Woman – Someone who is assigned as a male at birth, but identifies as a woman
Trans Man – Someone who is assigned as a female at birth, but identifies as a man
Trans Feminine – Someone who identifies as feminine, but identifies as neither a man nor a woman. They must also be assigned male at birth.
Trans Masculine – Someone who identifies as masculine, but identifies as neither a man nor a woman. They must also be assigned female at birth.
Social Dysphoria – Discomfort experienced when acting in ways socially different than your gender or being addressed in ways different to your gender
Body Dysphoria – Discomfort experienced because of the difference between gender and your sex, role, or gender expression
Butch – A term used to describe someone who’s gender expression is more masculine than feminine. This is commonly used in describing women or lesbians.
Femme (Fem) – A term used to describe someone who’s gender expression is more feminine than masculine. This is commonly used in describing women or lesbians.
Binarism – Putting gender strictly into two categories (male and female) and refusing to acknowledge genders outside of male and female.