definitions

Bisexual, Bi: A person who has the capacity to form enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attractions to both men and women. People may experience these attractions in differing ways and degrees over their lifetimes. Bisexual people need not have had specific sexual experiences to be bisexual. 

Gay: The adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic, and/ or emotional attractions are to people of the same sex (e.g., gay man, gay people). Sometimes lesbian (n. or adj.) is the preferred term for women.

Gender Identity: A person’s internal, deeply held sense of their gender. For transgender people, their own internal gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. Unlike gender expression (see above) gender identity is not visible to others.

 

Heterosexual: An adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic, and/ or emotional attraction is to people of the opposite sex. 

 

Intersex: An umbrella term describing people born with reproductive or sexual anatomy and/or a chromosome pattern that can’t be classified as typically male or female. Those variations are also sometimes referred to as Differences of Sex Development (DSD). While some people can have an intersex condition and also identify as transgender, the two are separate and should not be conflated. 

 

Lesbian: A woman whose enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction is to other women. Some lesbians may prefer to identify as gay (adj.) or as gay women.

LGBTQ+: Acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer. Sometimes, when the Q is seen at the end of LGBTQ+, it can also mean questioning. LGBT and/or GLBT are also often used.

 

Non-Binary and/or Genderqueer: Terms used by some people who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as falling outside the categories of man and woman. They may define their gender as falling somewhere in between man and woman, or as wholly different from these terms. The term is not a synonym for transgender or transsexual and should only be used if someone self- identifies as non-binary and/or genderqueer. 

 

Queer: 1. A term used to describe gender identity and/or gender expression, similar in nature to non- binary or genderqueer (see Non-binary and/or Genderqueer above). Typically, for those who identify as queer, the terms “lesbian,” “gay,” “bisexual,” and “trans” are perceived to be too limiting and/or fraught with cultural connotations they feel don’t apply to them. When Q is seen at the end of LGBTQ+, it typically means queer and, less often, questioning. 

2. Once considered a pejorative term, queer has been reclaimed by some LGBTQ+ people to describe themselves; however, it is not universally accepted. 

Sexual Identity: Refers to labels a person uses to describe their own types of emotional, romantic, and sexual attractions (e.g., straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or same-sex attracted). Sexual identity labels are one of three aspects of sexuality (see Sexual Orientation and Sexual Behavior for the other two) and are analogous to other labels we use to define ourselves and our roles in society, such as gender, race, familial roles, vocational labels, etc. They are not indicative of theological positions (see Side A, Side B, and Side X) or sexual behaviors.

Sexual Orientation: an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to people of certain genders. The causes of a gay, lesbian, or bisexual orientation are not readily identifiable from the current body of research, but may include a mixture of nature and nurture, including genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences. Sexual orientation is one of three aspects of sexuality (see Sexual Identity and Sexual Behavior for the other two) and should not be conflated with sexual identity, sexual behavior, or any particular theological position (see Side A, Side B, and Side X).

Side A: a term for Christians who hold the view that God blesses same-sex marriage and romantic relationships. Those who hold this view may identify as straight, same-sex attracted, or LGBTQ+. This term is well-known within the LGBTQ+ Christian movement, but not within the broader LGBTQ+ community.

 

Side B: a term for Christians who hold the view that God calls LGBTQ+ Christians to lifelong celibacy or heterosexual marriage. Those who hold this view may identify as straight, same-sex attracted, or LGBTQ+. This term is well-known within the LGBTQ+ Christian movement, but not within the broader LGBTQ+ community.

 

Side X: a term for Christians who hold the view that God calls those who experience same-sex attraction not only to lifelong celibacy or heterosexual marriage, but also to reject the identity marker of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender and seek to alter their sexual orientation or gender identity through reparative therapy. Those who hold this view usually identify as either straight or “struggling with same-sex attraction.” This term is well-known within the LGBTQ+ Christian movement, but not within the broader LGBTQ+ community.

Transgender/Trans: An umbrella adjective for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. People under the transgender umbrella may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including transgender. Some of those terms are defined elsewhere in this glossary. To show respect, use the descriptive term preferred by the person, as well as their preferred gender pronouns (see Preferred Gender Pronouns (PGPs)). Many transgender people are prescribed hormones by their doctors to bring their bodies into alignment with their gender identity. Some undergo surgery as well. But not all transgender people can or will take those steps, and a transgender identity is not dependent upon physical appearance or medical procedures. 

Does this terminology have you scratching your head? Download our complete terminology guide here!

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