Definitions of some of the key terms used in LGBTQIA+ discourse.


Someone who is prepared to act in order to challenge discrimination and learn more about an oppressed group. This means acting to protect others, not your own comfort.


Someone allocated the same gender at birth as they identify with now.


The assumption that everyone is heterosexual. This can include unconscious bias, such as assuming a child has a mother and a father (instead of two mothers or two fathers, or one parent).


The hatred or fear of individuals from the LGBTQIA+ community (or people perceived or assumed to be LGBTQIA+). This may be conscious or unconscious, and systems such as service delivery may be discriminatory without knowing, unless LGBTQIA+ people are involved in service design and review.


Many individuals experience discrimination because of more than one aspect of their identity, often simultaneously. For example, a black lesbian may experience racism, misogyny and homophobia.


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexual (and other terms people may use to describe themselves). It is crucial to note that LGBTQIA+ people are not discussing their sex lives or gender, they are highlighting their identity.

Non-binary/third gender

A person who does not identify with either gender. A non-binary person may change their presentation day by day or present with aspects of both or neither gender.


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 (Stonewall, 2022).

Straight passing

When the perceived or assumed heterosexuality of an individual differs from their true sexual orientation. The ability to ‘pass’ relates to a stereotypical view of how someone LGBTQIA+ may look or act.


‘Trans’ describes any person whose gender identity is different from the gender they were given at birth. It is an umbrella term which covers a range of identities, including trans women, trans men, and non-binary people. Trans people can dress or present themselves in any way. Being trans is linked to gender identity and a person does not need to have medical procedures or diagnoses in order to be considered trans (LGBT Foundation, 2017).

With thanks to Dr Sean Pert and Jess Davies.