What does LGBTQIA2 mean? A glossary for kids, parents, teachers, and librarians


LGBTQIA2 is an acronym for all parts of our amazing rainbow community of people whose gender and sexuality are different from the majority. It stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual/aromantic and Two-Spirit. Below are definitions for these terms and other words that help us understand the LGBTQIA2 community.

This list is a beginning point – the start of a long journey that we are already taking together. The words we use reflect the ways that we are learning and growing as a group. As LGBTQIA2 people gain more freedom and the world becomes fairer, the words we use will change to reflect the new ways we understand ourselves and each other. Therefore, this list is always being updated and changed. It continues to grow, just like our LGBTQIA2 community. I welcome your polite, engaged feedback as I maintain this resource.

Aromantic (aye-row-MAN-tic) – a person who does not want to be a romantic relationship. An aromantic person can still desire other kinds of loving relationships, like close friendships.

Asexual (aye-SEK-shoo-uhl)—a person who does not experience sexual attraction. An asexual person can be romantically attracted to other people.

Bisexual (by-SEK-shoo-uhl)—a person who is sexually and/or romantically attracted to people of more than one gender.

Drag king (DRAYG KING)—a person who dresses up in masculine clothes as a part of a performance. A drag king is usually a woman. Nonbinary people can also be drag kings. Some drag kings wear masculine clothes offstage, but they identify as women. Stormé Delavarie was one such drag king. She often wore men’s suits, but she understood herself to be a lesbian woman.

Drag queen (DRAYG KWEEN)—a person who dresses up in feminine clothes as a part of a performance. A drag queen is usually a man. Nonbinary people can also be drag queens. Today, some women perform as drag queens as well.

Female impersonator (FEE-mayl im-PUR-suh-nay-ter)—see drag queen. The term female impersonator was used in the past, but is no longer an appropriate term.

Gay (GAY)—a person who is sexually and/or romantically attracted to people of their gender. A man, woman, or nonbinary person can be gay.

Gender assigned at birth (JEN-der uh-SYNED AT BURTH)—the gender a doctor declares a baby based on external body parts. Gender assigned at birth describes a person’s original body but does not necessarily reflect their understanding of themselves.

Gender identity (JEN-der eye-DEN-ti-tee)—a person’s self-understanding of their gender.

Intersex (IN-ter-seks)—related to a person whose genitalia or internal reproductive organs are different from most men and women. Intersex people’s bodies are healthy, but unique. Intersex people can have any gender identity and any sexuality.

Lesbian (LEZ-bee-uhn)—a woman who is sexually and/or romantically attracted to other women. Nonbinary people can also identify with this term.

Male impersonator (MAYL im-PUR-suh-nay-ter)— see drag king. The term male impersonator was used during Flor’s lifetime but is no longer used.

Nonbinary (non-BYE-nur-ee)—a person whose gender falls outside of the categories man and woman. A nonbinary person can be feminine, masculine, androgynous, or have a gender that is completely unique.

Queer (KWEER)—a person whose gender and/or sexuality falls outside of social norms. Queer is also used as an umbrella term for the whole LGBTQIA2 community.

Transgender (trans-JEN-der)—a person whose gender identity is different from their gender identity assigned at birth. Nonbinary people are also transgender. They can be born with any type of body.

Two-Spirit (TOO-SPIR-it)—a member of an indigenous tribal nation from North America whose gender and ways of loving are sacred in their culture. Two-Spirit genders and sexualities have characteristics in common with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. However, they cannot be fully understood through the lens of white American culture. Two-Spirit identities are specific to the individual tribal nations from which they come. Two-Spirit is an umbrella term created by indigenous activists to communicate with nonindigenous people.