Glossary of Sexual Orientation/Gender Terminology

Sexual orientation and gender are immensely complex, and the various terminologies related to them can be very confusing. Below is a list of definitions to help provide a clear understanding of various terms surrounding sexual orientation and gender.  DISCLAIMER: Some of the following terms are derogatory, offensive, and outdated, and should not be used as…

Gender Binary

The gender binary is a system that pairs together sex (which is based on an individual’s reproductive anatomy) and gender (which refers to the socially constructed ideas and expectations that a culture has for certain sex). More specifically, it classifies two distinguishable, distinct, and oftentimes contrasting genders: males who identify as men and females who…

Bisexuality

Bisexuality can be difficult to define, because it holds different meanings for different people. In its most basic definition, bisexuality is the ability to be sexually, emotionally, or romantically attracted to more than one sex or gender (bi often indicating two). The Bisexual Resource Center uses “bisexual” as an inclusive term for people who recognize…

Pansexuality

What is Pansexuality? Pansexuality is a sexual orientation describing a person who is attracted to all types of people, regardless of their sex or gender.1 The term “pansexuality,” sometimes referred to as omnisexuality, has its roots in the Greek prefix pan-, meaning “all” or “every” coming together as one.2 When combined with the suffix, –sexual, describing one’s…

Overview of Sexual Orientations

Sexual orientation is a term that describes a person’s sexual, emotional, or romantic attraction, as well as the gender(s) of the people they are attracted to.1, 2 Sexual orientation differs from gender identity in that gender identity describes a person’s psychological identification with a particular gender, rather than their attraction to people.  The Kinsey Scale—developed…

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The concepts of sex, sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity are commonly confused, but there are important distinctions between these ideas that can be vital parts of a person’s identity. Sexual Identity vs. Sexual Orientation Sex Sex is a term used to describe the biological status of a person. Sex is determined by one’s anatomy,…

The Kinsey Scale

Contrary to popular belief, sexuality is not binary. Sexual orientation is not limited to the two categories of heterosexual and homosexual. Rather, there is a whole spectrum of sexuality and people may fall in between certain categories or change their minds over time. Biologist and sexologist Alfred C. Kinsey captures this idea with his seven-point…

Asexuality

Sexuality exists on a continuum, and not within a dichotomy of heterosexual and homosexual. Thus, there are many different types of sexual orientation. Sexual orientation describes a person’s preferences for whom they find emotionally, romantically, and sexually attractive. One type of sexual orientation is asexuality, or the lack of sexual attraction to individuals of any gender. For example, someone might…