The most important queer terms at a glance

In recent years, the queer community has made themselves way more known and present than before. But not everyone has caught up yet, and even if you think you have, there's a wide variety of labels, and there's a good chance one or two might still be new to you! What we're trying to say: If LGBTQIA+ is just a bunch of letters to you, we can change that here and now.

☆ Ally

also: advocate, supporter

A person who is not part of a marginalized group, e.g. the trans community, but actively supports it is called an ally or advocate. Allies actively work to end intolerance, educate others about the concerns of the marginalized group, and use their position of not being part of the marginalized group to advocate for equality for people who are being discriminated against.

☆ Aromantic

also: aro, nonromantic, a_romantic

Aromantic refers to a person who does not feel romantic attraction and/or has no interest in romantic relationships. An aromantic person is not necessarily asexual.

☆ Asexual

also: ace, asexuality, nonsexuality, a_sexuality


An asexual person feels no or little sexual attraction to other people. Asexual people are not necessarily also aromantic.

It's important to note that asexuality is a sexual orientation, not a decision to abstain from sex (as in celibacy, for example). Furthermore, it is possible for asexual people to have sex for various reasons. Asexuality can be considered a spectrum.

☆ Bi-curious

A person who is bi-curious is curious about trying relationships and sex with people of multiple genders, but does not describe themselves as bisexual (yet). Bicuriosity can be a label used by someone who is questioning their sexuality, and could therefore be replaced by the bisexual term “if the shoe fits”.

☆ Bisexual


A bisexual person is sexually attracted to people of two or more genders.

Bisexuality does not automatically mean that a person is only attracted to the two genders available for selection in the binary gender system.

Some people define bisexuality as a person being attracted to one's own gender and one or more other genders (here, non-binary people are also included, for example). For others, bisexuality means that attraction to people is independent of their gender. However, there many are different, even controversial, definitions of bisexuality.

☆ Cis

"Cis" is the opposite of "trans."

The adjective cis is used to express that a person identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth based on their genitalia.

☆ Coming out

The "coming out" refers to the process of disclosing your sexual orientation or gender identity to other people. Since we live in a heteronormative society (explained below), heterosexual cis people don't need to "come out". If you're wondering "coming out of what?", it's not "my cage and I've been doing just fine", but "the closet". That's why people who haven't revealed their true identity to the people around themselves yet are said to still be "closeted" or "in the closet".

☆ Demisexual

Demisexuality is a sexual orientation in which a person only feels sexual attraction to someone with whom they have established a strong emotional connection. It is argued to be on the asexuality spectrum. A demisexual person is therefore unlikely to enjoy one night stands.

☆ Gay


Many men or non-binary persons identifying with masculinity who are romantically and/or sexually attracted to men or masculine persons describe themselves as gay.

Some lesbian women also identify as gay. Gay is also sometimes used as an umbrella term for anything that deviates from the heteronormative standard.

☆ Gender

Gender describes on a scientific level the socially constructed sex and on a personal level the gender identity of a person. Gender identity here means the personal idea of one's own gender and gender role. Within society, gender is the concept by which we categorize various ideas such as social status, gender presentation, role in society, life planning, and sexuality into masculinity and femininity.

☆ Genderqueer

Genderqueer is a gender identity that moves outside traditional gender categories or does not clearly identify with male or female. It can be seen as an umbrella term for gender identities that deviate from the binary. Some examples are gender non-conforming or gender-fluid people.

☆ Heteronormativity

Heteronormativity is a concept that is central to queer studies. It is the societal assumption that heterosexuality is the norm that relationships and gender roles should follow. Often it also is the basis of discrimination, since anything that deviates from it can then as a result be considered "not normal".

Once you understand it, it's hard to oversee heteronormativity in your everyday life:
Your female friend tells you they're dating someone - are you thinking of a boy or a girl? Two women are holding hands in public - they're probably really good friends, or are they? A little boy and a little girl are playing in the sand - wow, they're gonna get married when they're older!

Apart from these types of instances, heteronormativity is of course also noticable on an institutional level, which eventually results in structural discrimination of same-sex partners.

☆ Inter

also: intersex, intersexual, intergender

Intersex people inhabit physical characteristics that can be interpreted as either male or female. There can be ambiguities in their chromosomes, hormone production or genitalia, e.g. the complete formation of a vagina in combination with internal testicles. Because of that, in many countries you are able to register as a third gender option in the birth registry.

☆ Lesbian


The term "lesbian" is generally used to describe women who are attracted to other women romantically, emotionally, and/or sexually. In addition, many genderqueer and non-binary people who are romantically and/or sexually attracted to women or femininity also label themselves as lesbian.


☆ Nonbinary


Non-binary (or nonbinary) refers to people who do not identify (or do not identify 100%) as male or female, but rather, for example, as both at the same time, between male and female, or as neither male nor female. Nonbinary is also inclusive of inter people.

☆ Pansexual

Pansexual people are sexually attracted to people of all genders and/or their sexual attraction is not based on the gender of the other person. Under the slogan “hearts, not parts”, pansexuals want to make clear that they are not interested in what’s in people’s pants, but what kind of personalities they are.

☆ Poly(amory)

Polyamorous people fall in love with more than one person at a time and may have romantic and/or sexual relationships with more than one person. It is important that all relationship and/or sexual partners know about this arrangement and agree to it.

There are various different types of polyamorous relationships. If you want to learn more, click here.

☆ Queer

The pride flag is a symbol for all queer forms of identity.
The pride flag is a symbol for all queer forms of identity.

In the English language, "queer" was originally a curse word, especially toward gay men. Today, however, the term is mostly used positively as a self-designation, especially by people who see their identity as "outside the social norm." In addition, queer can be used as an umbrella term for people who do not fit into society's romantic, sexual, and/or gender norms. However, queer is also a theoretical direction and a branch of science (“queer studies” / “queer theory”) in which pigeonholing is broken down, different forms of oppression are thought to be interconnected, and sexuality in particular is examined as a site of oppression.

☆ Trans(gender)


Trans is an umbrella term for all people who do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. This includes, next to trans men and women, also non-binary identities. It is also the term that many use for themselves, sometimes spelled trans*, and is used as an adjective, e.g. “I am trans”.

Trans men and women move within the gender binary, and often go through a “transition” by taking hormones or undergoing surgery. How well a transgender person is accepted in society often depends on their “passing”, meaning how well their transition is perceived by society.

☆ Transsexual

Transsexual is an alternative term for transgender people. The term comes from a medical context and is derived from the word “sex” in the context of genitalia. It is often falsely associated with sexuality, but being trans has nothing to do with that. Therefore, the term is often rejected by trans people nowadays.

☆ Transvestite


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