Sexuality 101: Definitions of all the terms you might identify with

It's a big'un

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Society is finally starting to become more accepting of anyone who branches away from the typical gender roles, and as a result, the language that people associate with their sexuality and gender identity is constantly changing and expanding. It's all kinds of awesome and exciting.

With that in mind, it's likely that there are a fair few terms out there which you might not have come across before or might not be familiar with, so we thought it'd be handy to create a definitive guide to all things sexuality.

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This list is by no means absolute, and with identity terms being such a personal choice, you should always trust the person who is using the word and their definition of it above any dictionary. Check out our Sexuality 101 below to all the terms and ideas that you might identify with yourself.

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Androgynous – a gender expression that has elements of both masculinity and femininity.

Androsexual - attraction to men, males or masculinity.

Aromantic – a person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others.

Asexual – a lack of sexual attraction to others or desire for sex or sexual partners. This spectrum can be from absolutely no sexual attraction whatsoever, low levels or some attraction only after significant amounts of time.

Autosexual - an individual who prefers to receive sexual satisfaction from, or is sexually attracted to themselves.

Bigender – a person who fluctuates between traditionally 'woman' and 'man' gender-based behaviour and identities, or who identifies with both genders.

Bicurious – a curiosity or questioning about having attraction to people of the same gender/sex.

Bisexual – a person emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to male/men and females/women.  You might also use this to indicate an attraction to individuals who identify outside of the gender binary, or you could use bisexual as a way to indicate an interest in more than one gender or sex (for example, men and genderqueer people).   

Cisgender – a person whose personal gender identity and biological sex assigned at birth match up.

Cisnormativity – the very uncool assumption, in individuals or in society, that everyone is cisgender, and that cisgender identities are superior.

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Closeted – a person who is not open to themselves or others about their sexuality or gender identity. 

Cross-dresser – someone who wears clothes of another gender/sex. 

Demigirl/Demiguy: A gender identity that can refer to someone who was assigned female/male at birth, but who feels only the slightest association with "female" or "male". However they don't feel enough disassociation to result in physical discomfort/dysphoria. They feel more strongly associated with either "female" or "male", but not strongly enough to justify an absolute identification as "woman" or "man".

Demisexual – an individual who does not experience sexual attraction unless they have formed a strong emotional connection with that person - usually within a romantic relationship.

Drag King/Queen – someone who performs masculinity/femininity theatrically.

Feminine Presenting/Masculine Presenting – a way to describe someone who expresses gender in a more feminine or masculine way, for example in their hair style, clothing choice, or mannerisms.

Femme – someone who identifies themselves as feminine, physically, mentally or emotionally (and is often used to refer to a feminine-presenting queer woman). 

Fluid(ity) – generally said with another term attached (like gender-fluid or fluid-sexuality) to describe an identity that may change or shift across all the different options available to you. 

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FtM / F2M; MtF / M2F – abbreviation for female-to-male/male-to-female transgender or transsexual person.

Gay – a term used to describe individuals who are primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to members of the same sex/gender

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Gender Binary – the idea that there is only male/female or man/woman, and that a person must fall into these specific categories.

Gender Fluid - a person who may always feel like a mix of the two traditional genders, but may feel more man some days, and more woman other days.

Gender Non-Conforming (GNC) – someone whose gender presentation doesn't match up with gender-based expectations. 

Gender Normative - someone whose gender presentation matches up with society's gender-based expectations. 

Genderqueer –  a more general label used by people who do not identify with typical gender binary. It can also be used as an umbrella term for loads of non-gender binary identities like agender, bigender, genderfluid. 

Gynesexual –  attraction to woman, females or femininity.

Heteronormativity – the assumption that everyone is heterosexual, that heterosexuality is superior to all other sexualities, and that individuals should identify as masculine men and feminine women.

Heterosexism – preferential treatment to heterosexual people.

Heterosexual – a person who is emotionally, physically or sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex (aka. straight).

Homosexual – a more medical-based term for a person emotionally, physically or sexually attracted to members of the same sex/gender. 

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Intersex – someone whose combination of chromosomes, hormones, internal sex organs, and genitals differs from the two expected patterns of male or female. Formerly known as hermaphrodite , but this term is now considered outdated.

Lesbian – a term used to describe women attracted romantically, sexually or emotionally to other women.

LGBTQ+ - the umbrella term/shorthand for people who have a non-normative (or queer) gender or sexuality. LGBTQ is Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (sometimes people at a + at the end to be more generally inclusive).

Metrosexual – a man who's more concerned about and spends more time and money on his appearance than is considered gender normative.

Masculine/Feminine of Center – to explain a range of gender identity and gender presentation for people who present or understand themselves in a more feminine/masculine way. 

Mx. – (usually pronounced mix) is a title like Mr, Ms, Miss etc. that is gender neutral and often the option of choice for people who do not identify within the cisgender binary.

Pansexual – a person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions.

Polyamorous - having non-monogamous relationships, i.e. relationships that may include multiple partners.

Queer - An umbrella term for anyone who is not heterosexual, gender-binary and/or heteronormative.

Questioning – an individual who is unsure about or is exploring their own sexual orientation or gender identity.

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Skoliosexual – attracted to genderqueer and transsexual people and expressions (people who don't identify as cisgender).

Third Gender – more of a conceptual term which means different things to people who use it, but mostly used to describe a person who does not identify with either man or woman, but identifies with another gender.

Trans*/Transgender – Often used as a term for a person who lives as a member of a gender other than that expected based on sex assigned at birth. Can also be used with an * as an umbrella term to cover a range of identities that transgress the usual gender norms. 

Transition(ing) – the process a trans* person undergoes when changing their bodily appearance to express the gender/sex they feel themselves to be.

Transsexual – a person who identifies psychologically as a gender/sex other than the one to which they were assigned at birth, and may wish to change their body or appearance to match how they feel inside.

Transvestite – a person who dresses ('cross-dresses') as the binary gender opposite for any reason. 

Ze / Hir – alternate pronouns that are gender neutral and preferred by some trans* people. Pronounced 'zee' and 'here' they replace "he" and "she" and "his" and "hers" respectively. Some people who do not use he/she may prefer to use the plural pronoun "they/their" singularly.

So there you go. Learnt anything from this lot? Hope so, it took bloody ages. Make sure you let us know if we've missed any out, we're over on Twitter @Sugarscape.

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