Afro Sexual Wisdom,Blog

Femme? Bear? Bicurious? Lipstick Lesbian? Cis gender? : A Glossary of terms you should know

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On Jun 14, 2023

Ally – In a word ‘squad’. a (typically) straight and/or cis person who supports members of the LGBT community.

Asexual (or ace) – This is someone who does not experience sexual attraction.

Androgynous – Term used to describe an individual whose gender expression and/or identity may be neither distinctly “female” nor “male,” usually based on appearance.

Bi / bisexual – Refers to an emotional and/or sexual orientation towards more than one gender.

Biphobia – The fear or dislike of someone who identifies as bi, based on prejudice or negative attitudes, beliefs or views about bi people. Biphobic bullying may be targeted at people who are, or who are perceived to be, bi.

Bicurious – A typically straight person who has expressed an interest into the same sex. Usually very intrigued by the idea of sleeping with another woman, and may have the odd ‘experimental’ experiences.

Baby Dyke – A young and new to being a lesbian. Alternatively someone who is ‘new to the community’ a.k.a new to being queer and fresh out the closet

Butch – A masculine lesbian. Often opting for a more masculine approach to style. Sometimes who is more inclined to masculinity.

Chapstick Lesbian – A lesbian that is somewhat of a ‘tomboy’, or can be described as having more of an androgynous/gender neutral vibe to them. They tend not to fit into the extremes of the ‘stud’ or ‘femme’ descriptions, but rather a blend of the two.

Cisgender or Cis – Someone whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth. Non-trans is also used by some people.

Coming out – When a person first tells someone/others about their identity as lesbian, gay, bi or trans.

Deadnaming – is calling someone by their birth name after they have changed their name. This term is often associated with trans people who have changed their name as part of their transition.

Drag King – A person (usually assigned female at birth person) who dresses to look like a man, usually for performance. 

Dyke – A word that used to be an offensive word for lesbian but is being reclaimed in a lot of spaces and is increasingly, widely accepted within the lesbian community

Femme – A feminine presenting lesbian.

Gay – Refers to a man who has an emotional, romantic and/or sexual orientation towards men. Also a generic term for lesbian and gay sexuality – some women define themselves as gay rather than lesbian.

Gender – Often expressed in terms of masculinity and femininity, gender is largely culturally determined and is assumed from the sex assigned at birth.

Gender Binary – The system of gender classification where everyone is categorized as being either male or female (a system not all people ascribe to). This is done through the social system, cultural belief, or both at the same time.

Gender dysphoria – Used to describe when a person experiences discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between their sex assigned at birth and their gender identity. This is also the clinical diagnosis for someone who doesn’t feel comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth.

Gender expression – How a person chooses to outwardly express their gender, within the context of societal expectations of gender. A person who does not confirm to societal expectations of gender may not, however, identify as trans.

Gender identity – A person’s innate sense of their own gender, whether male, female or something else (see non-binary below), which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned at birth.

Gender reassignment – Another way of describing a person’s transition. To undergo gender reassignment usually means to undergo some sort of medical intervention, but it can also mean changing names, pronouns, dressing differently and living in their self-identified gender. Gender reassignment is a characteristic that is protected by the Equality Act 2010, and it is further interpreted in the Equality Act 2010 approved code of practice. It is a term of much contention and is one that Stonewall’s Trans Advisory Group feels should be reviewed.

Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) – This enables trans people to be legally recognised in their affirmed gender and to be issued with a new birth certificate. Not all trans people will apply for a GRC and you currently have to be over 18 to apply. You do not need a GRC to change your gender markers at work or to legally change your gender on other documents such as your passport.

Gillick competence – A term used in medical law to decide whether a child (under 16 years of age) is able to consent to his or her own medical treatment, without the need for parental permission or knowledge.

Gold-star Lesbian – A lesbian that has never had or intends to have sex with a man. 

Heterosexual / straight – Refers to a person who has an emotional, romantic and/or sexual orientation towards people of the opposite gender.

Homosexual – This might be considered a more medical term used to describe someone who has an emotional romantic and/or sexual orientation towards someone of the same gender. The term ‘gay’ is now more generally used.

Homophobia – the fear or dislike of someone, based on prejudice or negative attitudes, beliefs or views about lesbian, gay or bi people. Homophobic bullying may be targeted at people who are, or who are perceived to be, lesbian, gay or bi.

Intersex – A term used to describe a person who may have the biological attributes of both sexes or whose biological attributes do not fit with societal assumptions about what constitutes male or female. Intersex people may identify as male, female or non-binary. Stonewall works with intersex groups to provide its partners and stakeholders information and evidence about areas of disadvantage experienced by intersex people but does not, after discussions with members of the intersex community, include intersex issues as part of its current remit at this stage.

LGBT – The acronym for lesbian, gay, bi and trans.

Lesbian – Refers to a woman who has an emotional, romantic and/or sexual orientation towards women.

Lesbian Bed Death – Invented by sex researcher Pepper Schwartz to describe the supposedly inevitable diminishment of sexual passion (and activity) in a long term lesbian relationship.

Lipstick Lesbian – A lesbian that exhibits very feminine qualities. Loves all things feminine – clothes, make-up and shoes.

LP (Lesbian Potential) – Used in ‘spot the gay’ scenarios in public places, i.e. “They got high LP”.

Neurodiverse – A concept where neurological differences are recognised and respected in the same way as any other human difference.

Non-binary – An umbrella term for a person who does not identify according to the gender binary (see above), or who may identify as both.

Outed – When a lesbian, gay, bi or trans person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is disclosed to someone else without their consent. (a.k.a pulled out the closet without their consent).

Pansexual – Refers to a person whose emotional, romantic and/or sexual attraction towards others is not limited by biological sex, gender or gender identity.

Passing – If someone is regarded, at a glance, to be a cisgender man or cisgender woman. Cisgender refers to someone whose gender identity matches the sex they were ‘assigned’ at birth. This might include physical gender cues (hair or clothing) and/ or behaviour which is historically or culturally associated with a particular gender.

Pronoun – words we use to refer to people’s gender in conversation – for example, ‘he’ or ‘she’. Some people may prefer others to refer to them in gender neutral language and use pronouns such as they / their and ze / zir.

Queer – In the past a derogatory term for LGBT+ individuals. The term was reclaimed by young LGBT folx in particular who don’t identify with traditional categories around gender identity and sexual orientation but is still viewed to be derogatory by some.

Questioning – the process of exploring your own sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Sex –assigned to a person on the basis of primary sex characteristics (genitalia) and reproductive functions. Sometimes the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are interchanged to mean ‘male’ or ‘female’.

Sexual orientation – a person’s emotional, romantic and/or sexual attraction to another person.

Pillow Princess (or Queen) – A woman who likes to receive sexually but is uninterested or unwilling to reciprocate.

Serial Monogamist – A person that jumps from relationship to relationship (usually exclusive but short term).

Soft Butch – A lesbian whose appearance tends to be on the butch side but is softer and more feminine in nature. Can also be used to refer to a lesbian that is in between “Butch” and “Femme”, but usually closer to the Butch side.

Stem – A lesbian who is somewhere in between “Stud” and “Femme”.

Stud A Black masculine identifying lesbian note:  not all Black masculine identifying lesbians consider themselves studs. It is a racially specific because it was created by Black lesbians (often within the United States) to differentiate their experiences from their white counterparts and express gender roles developed within the Black community. 

Switch – A lesbian (or otherwise) who acts as both a submissive and a dominant – switching back and forth between the two. Predominantly used in sexual terms.

U-Haul Lesbian – A lesbian who tends to move in fairly quickly with those she dates. Can you say cats and shared clothes?

Transgender – An umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth. Trans people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including (but not limited to) Transgender, Transsexual, Gender-queer (GQ), Gender-fluid, Non-binary, Gender-variant, Crossdresser, Genderless, Agender, Nongender, Third gender, Two-spirit, Bi-gender, Trans man, Trans woman, Trans masculine, Trans feminine and Neutrois.

Transgender man – A term used to describe someone who is assigned female at birth but identifies and lives as a man. This may be shortened to trans man, or FTM, an abbreviation for female-to-male.

Transgender woman – A term used to describe someone who is assigned male at birth but identifies and lives as a woman. This may be shortened to trans woman, or MTF, an abbreviation for male-to-female.

Transitioning – The steps a trans person may take to live in the gender with which they identify. Each person’s transition will involve different things, for some this involves medical intervention, such as hormone therapy and surgeries, but not all trans people want or are able to have this. Transitioning also might involve things such as telling friends and family, dressing differently and changing official documents.

Transphobia – The fear or dislike of someone based on the fact they are trans, including the denial/refusal to accept their gender identity.

Transsexual – This was used in the past as a more medical term (similarly to homosexual) to refer to someone who transitioned to live in the ‘opposite’ gender to the one assigned at birth. This term is still used by some although many people prefer the term trans or transgender.

For more on some of these terms check out this article about different sexuality terms including biromantic and some other ones. There is also an article about pronouns and another one about asexuality or even this one being a top or bottom (or even a switch)


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