Welcome – Beginners Guide


Welcome to Alphabet Soup, a comprehensive collection of terms used by and about the LGBTQ+ community. This project is a product of procrastination and a desire to educate both myself and others.

I have put a great amount of care and thought into the words included in this project, reworking definitions to make them as accessible as possible while remaining true to their origins. As is the beauty of language and human beings these words will mean different things to different people. If you are curious about what words may mean to someone please ask respectfully and privately and accept that they may not want to get into it right now. Explaining your identity can be exhausting, another reason I started this project.

This is by no means a definitive collection. Although every effort has been made to make this as inclusive as possible there may still be mistakes and not everyone uses these definitions. There is a big difference between putting a label on yourself and being labelled by someone else, this collection is intended to be a guide to terminology, a starting point on the long and twisty roads that encompass human sexuality, gender and culture.

I hope you find this collection helpful, that it inspires you to continue learning about gender, sexuality and what it is to be human.

The Basics

Please Note: It is very important to respect people’s desired self-identifications. One should never assume another person’s identity based on that person’s appearance. It is always best to ask people how they identify, including what pronouns they prefer, and to respect their wishes. It is also important to recognize that while a person may use a term to describe themselves it may not be okay for someone else to do so. When in doubt ask.

LGBTQ+: An umbrella term. More letters may be added in, some may not be used everywhere. This version stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, questioning. The plus signifies the inclusion of all the other identities who may be part of or align themselves with the LGBTQ+ community.

Asexual (Ace): A person who does not experience sexual attraction to others.

Bisexual: A person who experiences sexual attraction to people of two or more genders.

Cisgender: A person whose gender identity and sex assigned at birth align. Often shortened to cis, the opposite of trans.

Coming Out: The process of revealing your sexuality or gender identity to individuals in your life. Often incorrectly thought to be a one-time event, this is a lifelong and sometimes daily process. Not to be confused with outing.

Gay: A man who is attracted to men, but often used and embraced by women to describe their same-sex sexual attraction as well.

Gender: A social construct used to classify a person as a man, woman, or another identity. Fundamentally different from the sex one is assigned at birth.

Gender Identity: The internal perception of an individual’s gender, and how they label themselves.

Intersex: A person whose sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit within the medical confines of female or male.

Lesbian: A woman attracted to people of the same gender.

Non-Binary: Identifying outside the gender binary.

Queer: Historically, this was a derogatory slang term used to identify LGBTQ+ people. It has been embraced and reclaimed by the LGBTQ+ community as a symbol of pride, representing all individuals who fall out of the gender and sexuality norms.

Straight: A person who is attracted to people of a different gender than themselves; often referred to as heterosexual.

Trans*: An umbrella term that refers to all of the identities within the gender identity spectrum. Trans (without the asterisk) is best applied to trans men and trans women. The asterisk is added to include all non-cisgender gender identities, including transgender, transsexual, transvestite, genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary, genderfuck, genderless, agender, non-gendered, third gender, two-spirit, bigender, and trans man and trans woman.

© Gillian McInerney and Alphabet Soup, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Gillian McInerney and alphabetsoup.blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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