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2SLGBTQ+ Resources: Terminology

This guide provides access to resources on 2SLGBTQ+ issues in Canada and NS, as well as statistics and links to community organizations. It was developed in consultation with NSCC's Office of Human Rights and Equity Services.


This is not an exhaustive list. Terminology can evolve and we'll try to keep this list up to date.

Ally - Person who does not identify as 2SLGBTQ+ but supports the community and promotes equality.

Asexual - Person who does not experience sexual attraction or desire for others.

Assigned sex at birth - Sex (male or female) given to a child at birth, based on anatomy. aka Sex assigned at birth.

Bisexual - Person who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to more than one gender identity.Some persons use pansexual or queer in place of bisexual.

Cisgender - Person whose gender identity is the same as the assigned sex at birth.

Coming out - When a person tells another about their orientation and/or gender identity.

Deadname - Birth name of a person who has changed it, normally as they have transitioned. Is it disrespectful to use someone's Deadname over their chosen name.

Drag - Performance of a gender theatrically. Those who perform are called Drag Kings or Drag Queens. Drag is separate from gender identity.

Gay - Person who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to those of the same gender. Most commonly used to describe men.

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

Gender dysphoria - When a person experiences distress due to a difference between their assigned sex at birth vs their gender identity. It is also a recognized condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Gender identity - The internal sense a person has of their identity as male and/or female; and/or a variation or combination of genders.

Gender non-conforming - When a person's gender expression does not conform to traditional expectations of a gender.

Genderqueer - When a person sees their gender as fluid or not falling into typical definitions.

Heterosexual (straight) - Person who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to those of the opposite gender.

Intersex - A person born with sex characteristics (chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals) that do not fit the typical medical definitions of male or female bodies.

Lesbian - Person who identifies as a woman who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to others who also identify as a woman.

Pansexual (pan) - Person who is emotionally, romantically or sexually attracted to others that is not limited by sex or gender identity.

Queer - Person who views sexual orientation or gender identity beyond social norms. While it was traditionally used as a slur, it has been reclaimed by some members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community as a more inclusive term.

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 - Person's emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to others. There can also be a lack of attraction, as for those who are asexual.

Sexuality - Sexual feelings or behaviour, including sexual orientation or desire.

Transgender - Person whose gender identity and assigned sex at birth does not match. Can also be used for gender identities outside of male and female; aka Trans.

Transition(ing) - The process a person takes to live in their identified gender. Transitioning can involve medication and surgeries but not all will. It also means coming out to family, friends and others, as well as adapting their appearance to match their gender and potentially changing their name and official documents.

Two-Spirit - Indigenous persons' term that identifies their position in the 2SLGBTQ+ community, as well as their culture.

Don't see the term you are looking for here? Check out The 519's Glossary of Terms. The 519 is a City of Toronto agency committed to the health, happiness and full participation of the LGBTQ2S communities.



The 519. (2020). The 519 Glossary of Terms.

Human Rights Campaign. (n.d.). Glossary of terms.

National LGBT Health Education Center. (2016, March). Glossary of LGBT terms for health care teams.

Stonewall. (n.d.). Glossary of terms.