Terminology & Reference

Cisgender - When a person’s gender identity matches their body and sex assigned at birth.

Coming Out - The process of coming to terms with one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity and disclosing it to others. Others typically assume heterosexuality and fixed gender states that fit into the binary of Female and Male, therefore, coming out is an ongoing process.

FTM - A person, who was assigned the female sex at birth, but identifies as male. Also, trans man or transman. FTM is the acronym for Female-to-Male.

Gender Identity - A person’s deep internal feeling of whether they identify as being female, male, something in between, genderqueer, or something other.

Gender-normative - Refers to when people conform to what is considered culturally appropriate feminine and masculine behaviour.

Heteronormative - The belief that heterosexuality is the "normal" sexual orientation. Also refers to the belief that female and male gender roles are fixed.

Homophobia - Feelings of rage, hate, and disapproval of homosexuality. Homophobia can be manifested in numerous ways, such as verbally, emotionally, and through physical attacks.

LGBTQ - Acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, and queer, questioning.

MTF - A person, who was assigned the male sex at birth, but identifies as female. Also, trans woman or transwoman. MTF is the acronym for Male-to-Female.

Pansexual - When a person is sexually, romantically, and emotionally attracted to people of all gender identities and sexes.

Queer - An umbrella term for LGBTQ. Also a term of self-identification for people who do not identify with binary terms that describe sexual and gender identities.

Sexual Identity - How a person identifies whom they are sexually and romantically attracted to (e.g. lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual, etc.)

Transgender - An umbrella term used to describe people whose gender identity does not match with the sex they were assigned at birth. This term can encompass those who identify as transsexual, genderqueer, cross-dresser, and whose gender identities challenge gender norms.

Transphobia - Feelings of rage, hate, and disapproval towards transgender or people who are gender-nonconforming. Transphobia can be manifested in numerous ways, such as verbally, emotionally, and through physical attacks.

Two-Spirit - This term is culturally specific to the North American Aboriginal community and refers to queer Aboriginal people who identify as both a male and female spirit. This term is not exclusive to gender identity, and can also refer to sexual orientation.


Abramovich, A. (2014). Young, Queer and Trans, Homeless, and Besieged: A Critical Action Research Study of How Policy and Culture Create Oppressive Conditions for LGBTQ Youth in Toronto’s Shelter System (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Toronto.

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