• Letter of Introduction
• Human Rights Education: Violence Based on Sexual
Orientation and Gender Identity
• Activity 2.1: Exploring Our Identities
• Tips on Being a Good Ally
• Trans 101
• Pronouns 101
• Violence Against Transgender Women
• Discrimination Against LGBT People
• LGBT Rights Internationally
• Important Dates
• LGBTQI Glossary
Dear Amnesty Activist,
LGBT rights are human rights. Amnesty International believes that all people, regardless of their sexual
orientation or gender identity, should be able to enjoy the full range of human rights, without exception.
However, every day, across the globe, people face abuse in the form of discrimination, violence,
imprisonment, torture or even execution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Persecution
on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, real or perceived, violates the basic tenets of
international human rights law.
In June of 1969, a riot ensued in response to police brutality aimed at the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual,
and transgender) community gathering at the Stonewall Inn (a gay bar) in New York City. These protests
against police raids, harassment, and ill-treatment helped galvanize the LGBT community and allies across
the U.S., giving birth to the modern LGBT rights moment.
A lot of progress has been made since then, including the recent Supreme Court decision that legalized
marriage equality throughout the U.S. Even with the positives, LGBT people in the United States continue
to face discrimination and violence, especially based on gender identity. Across the globe, 75 countries still
criminalize same-sex consensual relations between adults. Additional countries criminalize same-sex
activity through anti-LGBT “propaganda” laws and the tight control of a person’s right to change their
gender identity on legal documents, to name a few.
Amnesty International is committed to highlighting instances of abuse to protect the basic dignity of LGBT
people. Amnesty International is also committed to educating and preparing activists to speak out about
these cases. The Ally Toolkit provides important information about LGBT rights, identities, and allyship so
that members can have a more meaningful impact and interaction with the LGBT rights movement.
The Ally Toolkit begins with background information and important advice, from how to be a good ally to
understanding terms and inclusivity. The Toolkit then moves to global instances of human rights abuse
experienced by LGBT people. With a stronger background and vocabulary, Amnesty activists will be able
to support LGBT human rights in their communities and across the world.
LGBT rights are human rights. Safety, legal recognition, family, education, and love are all human rights,
regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Together we can make our schools, communities, and
the world better for everyone.
The AIUSA LGBT Human Rights Coordination Group
For more information contact the Coordination Group at firstname.lastname@example.org or ﬁnd us on Facebook
(www.facebook.com/AIUSALGBT) or Twitter (https://twitter.com/AIUSALGBT).
7. For the more human rights education activities, check out the full “Respect My rights, Respect My
Dignity” module at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/act30/0010/2015/en/
8. It is always important for non-LGBT folks to learn how to be a good ally and to join the LGBT human
rights movement, or for LGBT people to further educate themselves. Stand together for human
Listen to LGBT voices
Be willing to talk
Confront your own prejudices and challenge your own conceptions about gender-appropriate roles and
Don't assume that all your friends and co-workers are straight
Speak out against statements and jokes that attack LGBT people
Defend your LGBT friends against discrimination
Use non-gender speciﬁc language
Don’t make assumptions about sexual orientation
Learn about the diversity of gender and sexuality
Learn about LGBT inequality and policy Issues
Educate yourself about LGBT histories, cultures, and concerns
Support Ally programs or LGBT organizations of your university or workplace
ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE
Write letters to your political representatives asking them to support legislation that positively affects
When discriminatory laws are raised in your communities, express your concern by:
Starting a letter writing campaign
Calling your representatives
Support Amnesty LGBT urgent actions and cases
INFORM YOUR COMMUNITY BY
Hosting a speaker — invite LGBT advocates to speak
Hosting a LGBT ﬁlm night
Planning a vigil and inviting other groups and organizations
Tabling at your school, community events, street fairs, shopping centers, etc.
TIPS TO BEING A GOOD LGBT
ALLY IN YOUR COMMUNITY
NETWORKING AND BUILDING COMMUNITY
To strengthen your work on LGBT human rights, reach out to the LGBT community and make
connections. What resources and skills can you contribute to their work? How can you partner with
Build community by listening and showing up. LGBT activists have a long history of hard work, so be
thoughtful in your approach and listen carefully to what the LGBT community needs. If you want to
jump in and starting showing documentaries or hosting panels about transgender rights, but the group
you’re working with says they need activists and posters at a rally instead, listen. Make posters, bring
activists to the rally.
9. Ally is a verb, not a noun. Allyship is about continuous work and lifelong learning. Here are some tips to
keep growing as an LGBT activist and ally.
Do Your Homework and Stay Informed. Start by doing your homework. Learn about the diversity of
gender and sexuality, LGBT history, culture, inequality, and policy issues. Listen to the experiences and
voices of LGBT people. Sometimes, this means listening without commenting. Reﬂect on what you learn
Don’t Make Assumptions. Don’t make assumptions about anyone’s gender, sexuality, or identity. Don’t
assume that your friends, family members, co-workers, etc. are straight or identify as male or female.
Gender, sexuality, and identity exist on a spectrum.
Think About Your Own Identity. How do you identify your own gender and sexuality? What does your
identity mean about how you interact with the world? How might your identity and experiences be different
from someone else’s?
Understand Your Privilege. Having privilege does not mean that your life has been easy, that you are
wealthy, or that you’ve never struggled or worked hard. Privilege means that there are issues and
struggles you will never have to experience or think about just because of who you are. This means that as
straight and/or cisgender allies, you have rights and privileges that LGBT people do not. How can you use
your privilege to educate others and work on LGBT rights?
Step Up, Step Back.
Step up: Speak up about LGBT rights and remember, those rights aren’t limited to marriage equality. They
include youth homelessness, workplace discrimination, health care access, disproportionate violence
against trans women of color, and more. Fight against LGBT discrimination. Speak out against statements
and jokes that attack LGBT people. Have conversations about prejudices, challenge conceptions about
gender roles and behaviors.
Step back: When LGBT people are speaking and sharing their experiences and stories. Listen, listen,
listen. Don’t speak over LGBT voices, make sure you are not taking credit for what LGBT communities are
saying or the work they have done. Use your privilege to promote LGBT voices instead of speaking on
You Will Make Mistakes. It’s Ok. Listening to and supporting marginalized communities is a learning
process that takes time and work. Often, this means we are working on correcting problematic behavior,
and mistakes are bound to happen. It’s ok! Don’t get defensive; listen. Be accountable, apologize,
recognize what happened and why, and keep on working.
“Hope will never be silent.”
10. Trans 101
Over recent years, the transgender community has seen an increased spotlight through the
visibility of individuals like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock. However, the transgender
community still faces challenges and violations of their human rights, such as
disproportionate homelessness, violence against transgender women, and discrimination
from public accommodations. With this in mind, it more important than ever for allies of the
LGBT community to have a basic understanding of what transgender and gender non-
conforming identities mean and how best to be an ally for the transgender community.
• Gender Identity: A person’s internal sense of being masculine, feminine, or other gendered, which
may or may not be visible to others.
• Gender Expression: How a person represents or expresses one’s gender identity to others, often
through behavior, clothing, hairstyles, etc.
• Gender Binary: The idea that there are only two genders – male/female or man/woman and that a
person must be strictly gendered as either/or.
• Transgender: An individual whose gender identity, expression or behavior is diﬀerent from those
typically associated with their assigned sex at birth. The term “trans” is often used as shorthand.
Note: the terms “transgenders” or “transsexuals” are often viewed as disrespectful.
• Gender Non-Conforming: A person whose gender expression is diﬀerent from societal
expectations related to gender.
• Cisgender: A person whose gender identity, expression, or behavior matches those associated
with their assigned sex at birth
• Transition:The time when a person begins to live as the gender with which they identify rather than
the gender they were assigned at birth. Transition often includes changing one’s ﬁrst name and
dressing and grooming diﬀerently. Depending on an individual’s preference as well as availability
and ease of access, transition can include medical and legal steps, such as hormone therapy, sex
reassignment surgery, and changing identiﬁcation papers.
For more terms, check out the LGBTQI Glossary at the end of the toolkit
IMPORTANT TRANS TERMS
11. KEEP IN MIND
Gender is a spectrum, NOT a binary.
Because gender is often presented as strictly male or female, it’s easy to forget not all people
who identify as transgender identify as “male-to-female” or “female-to-male”. Other ways that
people can identify include genderqueer, agender, and bigender. Additionally, many cultures
have non-binary gender identities, such as hijras in South Asia or two-spirit for some Native
Americans. Check out the Gender Unicorn on page 14 for a visual representation!
Transition is personal and unique to each individual.
While transition is often presented in relation to medical procedures (such as hormone therapy and
surgery), the truth is that the decision to transition and manner in which it occurs is different from
person to person; while one trans-identiﬁed person may feel that both hormone therapy and surgery
are necessary, another may be satisﬁed with just hormone therapy, and another may not want
either! Medical and legal transition can also be costly and difﬁcult to access. Most importantly,
transition also includes how a transgender person interacts with the people in their lives after
making the decision to live as the gender with which they identify. As an ally, it is your responsibility
to respect the privacy of trans people and let them decide how much to reveal about their
The transgender community is not a monolithic entity: racial, economic, ability, and other kinds of
diversity exist, and each individual transgender person’s experience is colored by other aspects
of their identity. It is critical for allies to keep this in mind when advocating for the community
at large. Listen to each transgender person with whom you interact, respect their individual
experiences, and keep in mind how other aspects of their identity affect their experience.
Check cisnormative language and privilege.
Given that society emphasizes cisgender (see glossary) experiences over transgender
experiences, it’s easy to forget that commonly held ideas can be inherently exclusionary. As
such, it’s important to think about how common things you say and believe may exclude
transgender and gender non-conforming people. For example, not all women have wombs and
periods. While it may be diﬃcult at ﬁrst, keeping track of how deeply ingrained habits and
sayings may aﬀect others will ultimately make you a better ally and advocate.
12. Pronouns 101
What Is A Pronoun?
Pronouns are parts of speech that replace other nouns. When we talk about gender pronouns, we’re
talking about personal pronouns, words that refer to a person. Pronouns include ﬁrst person (I), second
person (you), or third person (he, she, they). Pronouns allow a person to accurately represent their identity
in a way that is safe and comfortable for them, and pronoun lets others know what pronouns to use when
talking about or to that person.
How to Use Pronouns:
Know Your Own Pronoun. How do you identify yourself? Introduce yourself with your own pronouns
“Hi, my name is Marie, I’m a human rights activist, and my pronouns are XX.”
Ask for Pronouns. When you meet someone new, don’t assume how they identify or what their
pronouns are. Try asking: “What are your pronouns?”, or “What pronouns do you like to hear?”
Respect Pronouns. Consistently use the pronouns someone has shared with you. Listen carefully to
what you’re told. Don’t assume that someone’s pronouns have changed based on their appearance or
your perception of them.
What Not To Say When Talking About and Using
When introducing yourself, think carefully about what you say. It is a privilege to not have had to think
about your own pronouns or have to worry which pronouns someone will use for you based on your
When introducing yourself, try not to minimize the importance of pronouns with phrases like “You can call
me a unicorn or something”, or “I don’t care”. Each of these phrases can be very hurtful because it can
show disrespect towards those for whom a pronoun is not “assumed” or safe. Further, many people
genuinely want to be respectful toward your chosen gender and identity and want to be able to use the
pronouns with which you are comfortable. If you haven’t thought about it before, that’s okay: think about
how you want to be identified and let others know.
Never refer to a person as “it” or “he-she” (unless they specifically ask you to.) These are offensive slurs
used against trans and gender nonconforming individuals that suggest that person is not gendered in a
“right” or “correct” way.
13. Making Mistakes
It’s ok! Mistakes happen. Understanding gender, sexuality and identity is a learning process for everyone.
If you forget someone’s pronoun. Respectfully ask for their pronouns, “Can you remind me what
your pronouns are?” Asking is always better than assuming or guessing and shows your respect for their
If you use the incorrect pronoun. When you use the incorrect pronoun for someone, they may
feel disrespected, invalidated, dismissed, alienated, or dysphoric. Apologize and correct yourself right
away. “I’m sorry, I meant to say X.” If you do not realize your mistake immediately, apologize in private as
soon as possible and move on.
If you are corrected after using the incorrect pronoun. If you are use a pronoun incorrectly,
apologize, and if necessary, check in with the person in private later. “I believe I misused your pronoun
earlier. Can you remind me what pronouns you prefer?”
Respecting pronouns is your responsibility. If you make a mistake about someone’s pronoun,
whether you forget or use an incorrect one, apologize and commit to working harder on remembering.
Don’t try to explain yourself, go on about how bad you feel that you messed up, or talk about how hard it
is to remember pronouns. This may make the person you mis-gendered feel uncomfortable and
responsible for making you feel better about your mistake, which is not their job. You are responsible for
Acting As Allies
Ally is a verb, not a noun. Do you best to act as an ally when it comes to pronouns
If you hear someone mis-gendering another person. Gently correct the person who is
using incorrect pronouns. This can be as simple as saying “Oh hey, Erin prefers the pronoun xe.”
If someone is consistently using the wrong pronouns for someone. If possible, take
this person aside for a quiet conversation about respecting pronouns. “I’ve noticed you’ve been using
she for Lena, when Lena actually uses the pronouns they. It’s important to be respectful towards a
person’s chosen gender pronouns. What can you do that will help you remember to refer to Lena using
her chosen pronouns?”
Making spaces inclusive of gender pronouns. Open your activist spaces up to the
conversation of pronouns. Always introduce yourself using your pronouns, and be respectfully vocal
about using other’s pronouns. When in a group, start by introducing yourself using your pronouns,
explain why we use pronouns, and then go through group introductions.
15. Violence Against Trans Women
2015 has already been called one of the deadliest years for transgender women, with activists such as
Laverne Cox and Janet Mock even declaring a “transgender state of emergency”. In 2014, 13 transgender
women were murdered in the United States. That total was surpassed in August 2015 with the discovery of
Shade Schuler in Dallas TX, and the toll has continued to climb throughout the year.
• Between August 2013 and August 2015, thirty-three transgender women are known to have been
murdered in the U.S., with 18 of those murders occurring between January and August 2015. (National
Center for Transgender Equality)
• 26% of transgender people reported being physically assaulted and 10% reported being sexually
assaulted as a result of anti-trans bias (National Transgender Discrimination Survey)
• Transgender women were 1.6 times more likely to experience physical violence, 1.6 times more
likely to experience sexual violence, and 1.4 times more likely to experience hate violence in
public (National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, page 9 )
• Transgender people of color were 1.6 times more likely to experience physical violence, 1.8
times more likely to experience sexual violence, and 1.5 times more likely to experience hate
violence in public areas. (National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, page 9)
By the numbers:
“It is revolutionary for any trans person to
choose to be seen and visible in a world
that tells us we should not exist.”
16. TAKE ACTION
• Keep Track: The Advocate, an LGBT rights magazine, has been keeping track of the transgender
women murdered in 2015, along with updates of their cases and stories about the women themselves.
See more at www.advocate.com/transgender/2015/07/27/these-are-trans-women-killed-so-far-us-2015.
• November 14-20 2015 is Transgender Awareness Week, culminating with Transgender Day
of Remembrance (TDoR) on November 20, where victims of anti-trans violence are commemorated.
See the Events Page for more information
• Social Media: Use hashtags like #TransLivesMatter and #TransIsBeautiful on social media when
retweeting or sharing links about violence against transgender people.
• Check out AIUSA’s LGBT Co-Group on Twitter and Facebook at AIUSALGBT, and visit the LGBT page
on the AIUSA website at www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/issues/lgbt-rights
• Call out anti-transgender comments in your community.
Source: The Advocate
17. Discrimination against LGBT People
While the Supreme Court’s ruling that same-sex couples have the same right to marriage as
heterosexual couples in Obergefell v. Hodges June 2015 represented a long-awaited victory for LGBT
rights, there are still more obstacles for the LGBT community when it comes to full equality under the
law. Currently, there are no federal protections against employment discrimination
for LGBT workers, neither are there comprehensive federal laws protecting the LGBT community
from other forms of discrimination: so, an LGBT person can get married to the partner of their choosing
in all ﬁfty states, but can still be be ﬁred from their job, kicked out of their home, or denied access to
health care, depending on the state where they live.
• Amidst the negative developments, there are positive ones as well. On July 23rd, The Equality Act
was introduced in Congress, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to explicitly prohibit
discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity on a federal level. To learn more
about the Equality Act, check out www.hrc.org/campaigns/support-the-equality-act/
• What is the status of your state’s nondiscrimination laws? Check out transequality.org/issues/
• For information on discrimination against LGBT individuals ranging from employment to credit,
check out the Center for American Progress’s video series on comprehensive nondiscrimination
protections at www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbt/view/?tag=nondiscrimination-protections
• Call your Congressman or Senator to support the Equality Act 2015.
To ﬁnd your Congressional representative, go to www.house.gov/representatives/ﬁnd/.
To ﬁnd your Senator’s contact information, go to www.senate.gov/senators/contact/.
• Testify! If your local or state government is attempting to pass anti-LGBT laws, like those allowing
discrimination in public accommodations (often referred to as “bathroom bills”), Religious Freedom
Restoration Acts (RFRAs), or other forms of discrimination, organize with your local LGBT
community and testify why you oppose discrimination against LGBT people.
• Use social media like Twitter and Facebook to share how discriminatory laws impact your
community and to share the resources listed above.
18. LGBT Rights Internationally
In addition to domestic issues facing the LGBT community nationally, Amnesty International is
dedicated to advocating for the rights of the LGBT community internationally, from laws
criminalizing same sex relationships to the persecution of LGBT individuals. No matter what
one’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, all people have the right to be
treated by their community and their government equally.
• Colombia: In July, one transgender woman was found dead; two others
were attacked with knives in a separate incident.
Take action: call on Colombian authorities to ensure protective measures
and launch an impartial investigation of these attacks: www.amnestyusa.org/
• Poland: AIUSA recently found that Poland’s legal system has failed to
protect the LGBTI community as well as other minority groups from hate
Learn more here: www.amnestyusa.org/news/press-releases/report-poland-
• Tunisia: A Tunisian student was sentenced to one year in prison for
engaging in same sex relations.
Take action: urge the Tunisian authorities to quash the conviction and
release the student immediately: www.amnestyusa.org/get-involved/take-
• Russia: Since 2013, the Russian authorities have targeted journalist Elena
Klimova and her online LGBT youth group, Children 404, with a draconian
anti-LGBT propaganda law.
See page 20 to take action. See also: www.amnesty.org.uk/blogs/lgbti-
• Kazakhstan: In February 2015, Kazakhstan’s Senate passed a law
similar to Russia’s anti-LGBT law. Although it was later struck down by the
Constitutional Court, Amnesty International remains concerned that new
discriminatory laws could be introduced.
See page 19 to take action. See also: blog.amnestyusa.org/asia/
As part of our Write for Rights Campaign from December 1-18, 2015, Amnesty is
highlighting the case of Costas in Greece. In August 2014, Costas and his partner
were beaten up in a homophobic, racist attack. More than a year later, the attack has still
not been investigated, and Costas’ was attacked again in March 2015.
To learn more and take action you see page 21. See also: write.amnestyusa.org/case/
22. Important Dates
International Trans Day of Visibility
Day of Silence
40 to None Day
International Day against Homophobia,
Harvey Milk Day
LGBT Pride Month
Anniversary of Lawrence, Windsor,
and Obergefell decisions
Anniversary of 1969 Stonewall Riots
LGBT History Month
National Coming Out Day
Transgender Awareness Week
Transgender Day of Remembrance
World AIDS Day
Human Rights Day
Write for Rights
23. There are many terms used to understand sex, gender, sexuality, and identity. Below is a deﬁnition list
compiled by the University of California at Los Angeles that may be helpful as you seek to educate yourself.
A note about these deﬁnitions: Each of these deﬁnitions has been carefully researched and closely analyzed
from theoretical and practical perspectives for cultural sensitivity, common usage, and general
appropriateness. We have done our best to represent the most popular uses of the terms listed; however
there may be some variation in deﬁnitions depending on individual context. Please note that each person
who uses any a term does so in a unique way. If you do not understand the context in which a person is
using a term, you can respectfully ask them.
● Agendered: Person is internally ungendered.
● Ally: Someone who confronts heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, heterosexual and
genderstraight privilege in themselves and others; a concern for the well-being of lesbian, gay,
bisexual, trans, and intersex people; and a belief that heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia and
transphobia are social justice issues.
● Androgyne - Person appearing and/or identifying as neither man nor woman, presenting a gender
either mixed or neutral.
● Asexual - Person who is not sexually attracted to anyone or does not have a sexual orientation.
● Bicurious - A curiosity about having sexual relations with a same gender/sex person.
● Bigendered - A person whose gender identity is a combination of male/man and female/woman.
● Bisexual - A person emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to males/men and females/
women. This attraction does not have to be equally split between genders and there may be a
preference for one gender over others.
● Cisgender – describes someone who feels comfortable with the gender identity and gender
expression expectations assigned to them based on their physical sex.
● Drag - The performance of one or multiple genders theatrically.
● Drag King – A person who performs masculinity theatrically.
● Drag Queen – A person who performs femininity theatrically
● Dyke – Derogatory term referring to a masculine lesbian. Sometimes adopted affirmatively by
lesbians (not necessarily masculine ones) to refer to themselves.
● Gay – 1. Term used in some cultural settings to represent males who are attracted to males in a
romantic, erotic and/or emotional sense. Not all men who engage in “homosexual behavior” identify
as gay, and as such this label should be used with caution. 2. Term used to refer to the LGBTQI
community as a whole, or as an individual identity label for anyone who does not identify as
● Gender Binary – The idea that there are only two genders – male/female or man/woman and that a
person must be strictly gendered as either/or.
● Gender Expression –How a person represents or expresses one’s gender identity to others, often
through behavior, clothing, hairstyles, etc.
● Gender Identity – A person’s internal sense of being masculine, feminine, or other gendered, which
may or may not be visible to others.
● Gender Non-Conforming -- A person whose gender expression is different from societal
expectations related to gender.
● Genderqueer – A person whose gender identity is neither male nor female, is between or beyond
genders, or is some combination of genders.
24. ● Heteronormativity - The assumption, in individuals or in institutions, that everyone is heterosexual,
and that heterosexuality is superior to homosexuality and bisexuality.
● Heterosexual Privilege –Those benefits derived automatically by being heterosexual that are denied
to homosexuals and bisexuals. Also, the benefits homosexuals and bisexuals receive as a result of
claiming heterosexual identity or denying homosexual or bisexual identity.
● Homophobia – The irrational fear or hatred of homosexuals, homosexuality, or any behavior or belief
that does not conform to rigid sex role stereotypes. It is this fear that enforces sexism as well as
● Homosexual – A person primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to members of the
● Intergender – A person whose gender identity is between genders or a combination of genders.
● Intersex: People who are born with reproductive or sexual anatomy and/or chromosome patterns that
do not seem to fit typical definitions of male or female. Also known as differences of sex development.
● Lesbian – Term used to describe female-identified people attracted romantically, erotically, and/or
emotionally to other female-identified people. The term lesbian is derived from the name of the Greek
island of Lesbos and as such is sometimes considered a Eurocentric category that does not
necessarily represent the identities of African-Americans and other non-European ethnic groups. This
being said, individual female-identified people from diverse ethnic groups, including African-Americans,
embrace the term ‘lesbian’ as an identity label.
● LGBTQI – A common abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex
● Pansexual - A person who is sexually attracted to all or many gender expressions.
● Passing – Describes a person's ability to be accepted as their preferred gender/sex or race/ethnic
identity or to be seen as heterosexual.
● Queer – 1. An umbrella term which embraces a matrix of sexual preferences, orientations, and habits
of the not-exclusively- heterosexual-and-monogamous majority. Queer includes lesbians, gay men,
bisexuals, transpeople, intersex persons, the radical sex communities, and many other sexually
transgressive (underworld) explorers. 2. This term is sometimes used as a sexual orientation label
instead of ‘bisexual’ as a way of acknowledging that there are more than two genders to be attracted
to, or as a way of stating a non-heterosexual orientation without having to state who they are attracted
to. 3. A reclaimed word that was formerly used solely as a slur but that has been semantically
overturned by members of the maligned group, who use it as a term of defiant pride. ‘Queer’ is an
example of a word undergoing this process. For decades ‘queer’ was used solely as a derogatory
adjective for gays and lesbians, but in the 1980s the term began to be used by gay and lesbian
activists as a term of self-identification. Eventually, it came to be used as an umbrella term that
included gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people. Nevertheless, a sizable percentage
of people to whom this term might apply still hold ‘queer’ to be a hateful insult, and its use by
heterosexuals is often considered offensive. Similarly, other reclaimed words are usually offensive to
the in-group when used by outsiders, so extreme caution must be taken concerning their use when
one is not a member of the group.
● Sex - A medical term designating a certain combination of gonads, chromosomes, external gender
organs, secondary sex characteristics and hormonal balances. Because usually subdivided into ‘male’
and ‘female’, this category does not recognize the existence of intersexed bodies.
● Sex Identity – How a person identifies physically: female, male, in between, beyond, or neither.
● Sexual Orientation – The desire for intimate emotional and/or sexual relationships with people of the
same gender/sex, another gender/sex, or multiple genders/sexes.
● Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS) – Surgical procedures that change one’s body to better reflect
a person’s gender identity. May includes multiple procedures, including “top surgery” (breast
augmentation or removal) or “bottom surgery” (genital alteration). The decision to undergo SRS is
different from person to person.
● Sexuality – A person’s exploration of sexual acts, sexual orientation, sexual pleasure, and desire.
25. ● Straight – Another term for heterosexual.
● Transgender – An individual whose gender identity, expression or behavior is different from those
typically associated with their assigned sex at birth. The term “trans” is often used as shorthand. Note: the
terms “transgenders” or “transsexuals” are often viewed as disrespectful
● Transgender Man or FTM – “Female to male”; a person who was assigned female at birth, but identifies
and lives as a male.
● Transgender Woman or MTF – “Male to female”; a person who was assigned male at birth, but identifies
and lives as a female.
● Transition – The time when a person begins to live as the gender with which they identify rather than the
gender they were assigned at birth. Transition often includes changing one’s first name and dressing and
grooming differently. Depending on an individual’s preference as well as availability and ease of access,
transition can include medical and legal steps, such as hormone therapy, sex reassignment surgery, and
changing identification papers.
● Transphobia – The irrational fear of those who are gender variant and/or the inability to deal with gender
● Two-Spirited – Refers to the historical and current First Nations people whose individual sprits are a
blend of male and female spirits. Recently reclaimed by some in Native American LGBTQI communities
as an alternative to Western labels of gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
● Ze / Hir – Alternate pronouns that are gender neutral and preferred by some gender variant persons.
Pronounced /zee/ and /here,/ they replace “he”/”she” and “his”/”hers” respectively.