The Listening Process

Glossary of Terms

This glossary is intended to assist those using this site to understand some of the terms they might come across in literature on the subject of homosexuality. Much of the literature on the web, in books and magazines is written from a Western worldview. It is hoped the glossary will explain the normal way in which words are used in order to enable those unfamiliar with this language to understand what is meant by the writers. The aim is to enable an engagement, not only with Christian literature, but with secular LGBT literature as well. We hope this will serve the Church in pastoral care and in mission.

* This Glossary is also intended to assist those writing a submission to the Study Guide , where we ask you either to use the language set out here or to either explain alternative words you are choosing to use.

Bisexual
Type of sexual orientation in which a person is emotionally and sexually attracted to either sex.

Coming Out
The process by which a person begins to self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, or queer. Coming out can happen over a long or short period of time and at different levels (i.e., a person may be out to their friends, but not to their family).

Drag
Stands for DRessed As a Girl. When a person performs in the clothes or using the mannerisms usually associated with the opposite sex or gender. Most people who perform drag do not consider themselves transgender.

Ex-gay
A person who reports they have left a homosexual lifestyle and has either changed their orientation or lives with same sex attraction issues within celibacy. Also a name given to a movement which promotes the possibility of change in sexual orientation.

F to M
A Female to Male transsexual.

Gay
A man who is emotionally and sexually attracted to other men. Preferred self-identifier for many homosexual men. Also, a term used to describe the whole GLBT community. Some men who have sex with men do not self-identify as gay.

Gender Expression/Identity
Refers to the way in which people externally communicate their internal, personal sense of gender to others through behaviour and appearance. For transgender people, their birth-assigned gender or sex and their own internal sense of gender identity do not match, and they seek to make their gender expression match their internal identity, rather than their birth-assigned gender or sex.

Heterosexual
Type of sexual orientation in which a person is emotionally and sexually attracted to the opposite sex (males attracted to females, females attracted to males).

Homophobia
Irrational fear and hatred of homosexuality and anyone who identifies as anything other than heterosexual. The victimisation and dehumanisation of homosexual people.

Homosexual
Type of sexual orientation in which a person is attracted to the same sex (males attracted to males, females attracted to females). A term originally used by the medical community to "diagnose" people who were not heterosexual. Considered a pejorative to some people. ‘"Gay" and "lesbian" are the names we have proudly chosen for ourselves while "homosexual" is a sterile psychiatric/medical term.’

Intersexed
People who are born with ambiguous genitalia. Use 'intersexed' rather than 'hermaphrodite'. Intersexed people may or may not identify as transgender or transsexual.

Lesbian
A woman who is emotionally and sexually attracted to other women. Preferred self-identifier for many homosexual women. Can also refer to the community and culture of women who love/are attracted to other women.

LGBT
Common abbreviation for Lesbian; L, Gay; G, Bisexual; B, and Transgender; T. May be lengthened to include I; Intersexed, Q; Queer and S; Straight. May also be known as ‘Lesbigay’ in North America.

M to F
A Male-to-Female transsexual.

Queer
An umbrella term used for anything not heterosexual. Historically has been considered pejorative, however the term has recently been reclaimed by many GLBT people as a preferred self-identifier. The self identifier ‘queer’ can be intended as a refusal to be defined.

Queer Theology
A term given to theology which rejects the existence of norms in sexuality and sees a new liberation for all people.

Reparative Therapy
A therapeutic method aimed at re-orientating men with same sex attraction issues by building same gender friendships and reconciliation with an absent father.

Same Sex Attraction
Being attracted to people of the same gender.

Sexual Orientation
The direction of a persons sexual attraction. If it is to those of the opposite gender it is heterosexual. To those of the same gender homosexual and if it can be to both then it is bisexual.

Sexual Preference
The same as orientation but is used to imply that an individuals preference may alter.

Sodomy
is a term of biblical origin used to characterise certain sexual that were attributed to citizens of ancient Sodom. The term commonly used to describe a specific act between two males, or between a male and a female, but is often used in laws intended to cover all forms of homosexuality.

Straight
Heterosexual.

Transgender
Often an umbrella term including transsexuals, cross-dressers, as well as people who identify as neither male nor female. Can also be the preferred self-identifier for someone who feels their gender identity differs from their birth-assigned gender or sex, but who does not wish to pursue transition.

Transition
The process by which a person who identifies as transgender or transsexual changes their sex and gender. Can include changing name and/or sex on legal documents, hormone therapy, living as the opposite gender or sex for an extended period of time, Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS). Transgender/transsexual people may or may not choose to pursue transition or may choose some but not all of the options related to transition (for example, an F to M or M to F may choose hormonal therapy but never have Sex Reassignment Surgery).

Transsexual
A person who does not feel that their birth-assigned sex matches their internal sense of their sex. Transsexuals may be male-to-female (M+F) or female-to-male (F+M). Transsexuals may or may not choose to alter their bodies hormonally or surgically. Some transsexuals also identify as transgender.

Transvestite
Considered a pejorative term when used to describe someone who is a cross dresser.