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Some LGBTQ terms to know

Thursday, October 17, 2013 | 10:56 a.m. CDT; updated 12:46 p.m. CDT, Thursday, October 17, 2013

The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association publishes a stylebook on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. The stylebook contains definitions of entries on common words and phrases and updates terms to reflect the association's mission of inclusive coverage. Below are the association's guidelines on some key terms:

Gay: An adjective that has largely replaced "homosexual" in referring to men who are sexually and affectionately attracted to other men. Avoid using as a singular noun. For women, "lesbian" is generally used, but when possible ask the person which term she prefers. To include both, use "gay men and lesbians." 

Gender identity: An individual's emotional and psychological sense of being male or female. Not necessarily the same as an individual's sex at birth. 

Queer: Originally a pejorative term for gay, now being reclaimed by some gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people as a self-affirming umbrella term. Offensive when used as an epithet. Use only if there is a compelling reason. 

Transgender (adj.): An umbrella term that refers to people whose physical, sexual characteristics may not match their gender identity. Some female and male cross-dressers, drag queens or kings, female or male impersonators, and intersex individuals may also identify as transgender. Use the name and personal pronouns that are consistent with how the individual lives publicly. When possible, ask which term the person prefers. As a noun, use "transgender people."

Transgender man: A person who was considered female at birth but identifies and lives as a man. Transgender people sometimes use the acronym FTM, or female to male. Sometimes shortened colloquially to trans man. 

Transgender woman: A person who was considered male at birth but identifies and lives as a woman. Transgender people sometimes use the acronym MTF, or male to female. Sometimes shortened colloquially to trans woman.

Transsexual (n and adj.): Avoid this antiquated term in favor of "transgender" and "transgender people." Some individuals prefer it, but it can carry misleading medical connotations. 

Transvestite: Avoid this antiquated term. Synonymous with cross-dresser. 


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