Compiled & edited by Rachel Robbins, Psy.D.
Ally: An individual or group who advocates for and supports members of a community other than their own. Allies reach across differences to achieve mutual goals.
Asexual: An individual who does not experience sexual attraction to others.
BDSM: The compound acronym, BDSM, is derived from the terms bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism. It describes activity involving consensual pain and/or power dynamics. The terms sadism and masochism typically refer to receiving pleasure from inflicting or receiving pain. The terms bondage, discipline, submission, and domination typically refer to playing with power roles.
Cisgender: A cisgender person is someone whose self-perception of
their gender and/or their gender appearance to others matches the
gender they were assigned at birth.
Coming out: To acknowledge one’s sexual orientation, or identity pertaining to gender, sexuality, and relationships, and the act of becoming open about it with oneself and with others.
Cross-dresser: Someone who wears clothes of another gender/sex.
Domestic partner: A romantic or intimate relationship, often involving emotional and financial commitments. Another word for spouse, lover, significant other, etc. This term has legal definitions in many jurisdictions.
Drag: The act of dressing in gendered clothing as a performance. Drag Queens perform in highly feminine attire. Drag Kings perform in highly masculine attire. Drag may be performed as a political comment on gender, as parody, or as entertainment.
Gender: A classification that ascribes qualities of masculinity and femininity to people. Gender characteristics can change over time and are different across cultures. Gender involves social perception, and/or one’s own sense of self as masculine or feminine regardless of external genitalia.
Genderqueer: A gender identity that generally refers to not identifying as male/female or as a man/woman. Typically involves bending gender barriers, playing with gender norms, or refusing gender entirely. Others may use the term genderfluidity to refer to non-binary gender identity.
Gender Expression: The way in which an individual manifests their gender identity. Gender expression is fluid, and includes appearance, speech, behavior, movement, and other factors that express how an individual wishes to be perceived in the spectrum of gender.
Gender non-conforming/variant: To display gender traits that are not typically associated with their biological sex. A person may display or prefer traits and appearance that are not culturally associated with their biological sex without an interest in transitioning to embody or identify as a different gender.
HRT: An acronym for hormone replacement therapy. Sometimes called cross-sex hormone therapy. A form of treatment used by some transgender people in which sex hormones are administered to more closely associate one’s secondary sexual characteristics with their gender identity.
Kink: A range of sexual practices, including BDSM and fetishes, that include different methods to achieve intimacy with sexual activities and experiences.
Non-Monogamy: A broad term which covers several types of interpersonal relationships in which an individual forms multiple and simultaneous sexual or romantic bonds.
Open Relationship: A relationship where one, both, or all members of a committed relationship may become consensually engaged in sexual or intimate activities with other people.
Polyamory: The practice of having more than one intimate, romantic, and/or sexual relationship at the same time, with the full knowledge and consent of all partners involved.
Queer: The term queer has a variety of meanings. It can refer to an umbrella term for LGBT people, a political statement around conforming to sexual identity, or a description of varied sexual behaviors and interests.
Sexual Orientation: A pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction to persons of the opposite sex, the same sex, or to both sexes, as well as the genders that accompany them. These attractions include heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, and pansexuality.
Sex Work: Sexual commerce of all kinds, and/or the performance of sex acts for hire.
Sexual Diversity: Acknowledgement of a variety of sexual expressions, including sexual orientation, gender expression, and sexual identity.
SRS: An acronym for Sexual Reassignment Surgery, the surgery performed for some transsexuals to assist in making their bodies and their sex identity match.
Transgender: An individual whose psychological self and/or gender identity differs from the social expectations for the physical sex they were born with. This can also be a broad term for transsexual, cross-dresser, gender variant, people who identify as neither female nor male, or other gender variations. Some people may fit under this definition of transgender and not relate to this identity.
Prism Dictionary. (n.d.) Retrieved February 25th, 2013, from
Gender Equity Resource Center: Definition of Terms. (n.d.) Retrieved
February 25th, 2013, from
Vocabulary and Symbols. (n.d.). Retrieved February 10th, 2013, from
What does it all mean? (n.d.). Retrieved February 10th, 2013, from
BDSM Defined: An exploration of adult sexuality and lifestyles.
(n.d.). Retrieved February 10th, 2013, from