What does LGBTQ+ stand for?
LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning and more. This term covers a broad range of people who have different lived experiences and may be at different stages in exploring their identity. It includes people who are asexual or have differences in sex development (sometimes known as being intersex).
There are a wide variety of terms people might use to describe their sexuality (who they feel attracted to) or their gender identity (their personal, internal perception of their own gender). For example, someone who has a different gender identity from the gender that was registered at their birth might identify as trans or transgender. Other people whose gender identity doesn’t sit comfortably with ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ might identify as non-binary, agender, gender fluid, or genderqueer.
People might identify as LGBTQ+ in more than one way, for example, they could be gay or transgender. Children who are LGBTQ+ might also have other characteristics that mean they face additional challenges or need extra support, for example being in care, being disabled, or being from a Black, Asian, or minoritised ethnic group.
Adversities faced by LGBTQ+
People’s perceptions of, or ideas about, LGBTQ+ people’s identity can make people discovering their sexuality and gender more vulnerable to negative experiences or interactions. These might include:
experiencing homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia
feeling the pressure of sexual and gender norms
having to manage their sexual and gender identity across different life areas (for example, coming out at school but not at home)
feeling isolated or ‘different’ from their family and friends
feeling like they can’t express their identity because they’re worried about people’s responses
having complicated or negative feelings about their gender identity or sexuality
experiencing gender dysphoria
They also may face seperate adversities with their families such as:
experiencing negative reactions from family members after coming out
being afraid of not being accepted by their family
worrying about not being able to be themselves at home.
LGBTQ+ young people are more likely to become homeless than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. This might be because of:
being subject to physical, emotional or sexual abuse from family members
Puberty can be a distressing and sometimes traumatic time for LGBTQ+ young people as their body and hormones start to change. They might start to have new or confusing feelings about their gender or sexuality. This can be particularly distressing if you don’t have anyone to talk about things with or don’t feel supported.
Research suggests that LGBTQ+ young people might be at higher risk than their non-LGBTQ+ peers of:
experiencing suicidal thoughts and feelings
Isolation or barriers to speaking out
There are some factors that might mean LGBTQ+ community feel less able to speak out about any worries or negative experiences they’re having.
worrying that telling someone will ‘out’ them before they’re ready
fearing that it will make the bullying or abuse worse
thinking no one will believe them
feeling they are to blame for what they’re experiencing
worrying that adults will think their gender identity or sexuality is to blame for their experience of abuse
Glossary of Terms
Ace and aro/ace and aro spectrum
Umbrella terms used to describe the wide group of people who experience a lack of, varying, or occasional experiences of romantic and/or sexual attraction, including a lack of attraction. People who identify under these umbrella terms may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including, but not limited to, asexual, ace, aromantic, aro, demi, grey, and abro. People may also use terms such as gay, bi, lesbian, straight and queer in conjunction with ace and aro to explain the direction of romantic or sexual attraction if and when they experience it.
A person who does not experience sexual attraction. Some asexual people experience romantic attraction, while others do not. Asexual people who experience romantic attraction might also use terms such as gay, bi, lesbian, straight and queer in conjunction with asexual to describe the direction of their romantic attraction.
A (typically) straight and/or cis person who supports members of the LGBT community.
Bi is an umbrella term used to describe a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards more than one gender.
Bi people may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including, but not limited to, bisexual, pan, queer, and some other non-monosexual and non-monoromantic identities.
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.
Butch is a term used in LBT culture to describe someone who expresses themselves in a typically masculine way.
There are other identities within the scope of butch, such as ‘soft butch’ and ‘stone butch’. You shouldn’t use these terms about someone unless you know they identify with them.
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.
When a person first tells someone/others about their orientation and/or gender identity.
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.
Demi (sexual and romantic)
An umbrella term used to describe people who may only feel sexually or romantically attracted to people with whom they have formed an emotional bond. People may also use terms such as gay, bi, lesbian, straight and queer in conjunction with demi to explain the direction of romantic or sexual attraction as they experience it.
Femme is a term used in LGBT culture to describe someone who expresses themselves in a typically feminine way.
There are other identities within the scope of femme, such as ‘low femme’, ‘high femme’, and ‘hard femme’. You shouldn’t use these terms about someone unless you know they identify with them.
Refers to a man who has a 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. Some non-binary people may also identify with this term.
Often expressed in terms of masculinity and femininity, gender is largely culturally determined and is assumed from the sex assigned at birth.
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 sex they were assigned at birth.
How a person chooses to outwardly express their gender, within the context of societal expectations of gender. A person who does not conform to societal expectations of gender may not, however, identify as trans.
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.
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.
Grey (sexual and romantic)
Also known as grey-A, this is an umbrella term which describes people who experience attraction occasionally, rarely, or only under certain conditions. People may also use terms such as gay, bi, lesbian, straight and queer in conjunction with grey to explain the direction of romantic or sexual attraction as they experience it.
Refers to a man who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards women or to a woman who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards men.
This might be considered a more medical term used to describe someone who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards someone of the same gender. The term ‘gay’ is now more generally used.
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.
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.
Refers to a woman who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation towards women. Some non-binary people may also identify with this term.
The fear or dislike of someone because they are or are perceived to be a lesbian.
The acronym for lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, questioning and ace.
An umbrella term for people whose gender identity doesn’t sit comfortably with ‘man’ or ‘woman’. Non-binary identities are varied and can include people who identify with some aspects of binary identities, while others reject them entirely.
Orientation is an umbrella term describing a person's attraction to other people. This attraction may be sexual (sexual orientation) and/or romantic (romantic orientation). These terms refers to a person's sense of identity based on their attractions, or lack thereof.
Orientations include, but are not limited to, lesbian, gay, bi, ace and straight.
When a lesbian, gay, bi or trans person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is disclosed to someone else without their consent.
Person with a trans history
Someone who identifies as male or female or a man or woman, but was assigned the opposite sex at birth. This is increasingly used by people to acknowledge a trans past.
Refers to a person whose romantic and/or sexual attraction towards others is not limited by sex or gender.
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.
People who are on the ace and/or aro spectrum may have platonic partnerships. These are relationships where there is a high level of mutual commitment which can include shared life decisions, shared living arrangements, and co-parenting of children. These partnerships can include more than two people. Like allosexual and alloromantic people, ace and aro spectrum people may be monogamous or polyamorous.
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 is a term used by those wanting to reject specific labels of romantic orientation, sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It can also be a way of rejecting the perceived norms of the LGBT community (racism, sizeism, ableism etc). Although some LGBT people view the word as a slur, it was reclaimed in the late 80s by the queer community who have embraced it.
The process of exploring your own sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
A person’s romantic attraction to other people, or lack thereof. Along with sexual orientation, this forms a person’s orientation identity.Stonewall uses the term ‘orientation’ as an umbrella term covering sexual and romantic orientations.
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’.
A person’s sexual attraction to other people, or lack thereof. Along with romantic orientation, this forms a person’s orientation identity.
Stonewall uses the term ‘orientation’ as an umbrella term covering sexual and romantic orientations.
A term used to cover a variety of identities that have a root commonality or shared experience.
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, bi-gender, trans man, trans woman, trans masculine, trans feminine and neutrois.
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.
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.
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.
The fear or dislike of someone based on the fact they are trans, including denying their gender identity or refusing to accept it. Transphobia may be targeted at people who are, or who are perceived to be, trans.
This was used in the past as a more medical term (similarly to homosexual) to refer to someone whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth.
This term is still used by some although many people prefer the term trans or transgender.
HIV medication (antiretroviral treatment, or ART) works by reducing the amount of the virus in the blood to undetectable levels. This means the levels of HIV are so low that the virus cannot be passed on. This is called having an undetectable viral load or being undetectable.