Safe Space Vocabulary
Understand and Use Correct Vocabulary
It is important to use the correct terminology when working with LGBT individuals to ensure that everyone feels respected and accepted.
Sexual Orientation: An individual’s physical and/or romantic attraction to people of the same gender/sex, another gender/sex or multiple genders/sexes
Transgender: An umbrella term that can be used to describe people whose gender expression is non-conforming and/or whose gender identity is different from their birth-assigned sex.
Gender Variant/Gender Non-Conforming: Refers to a person who has – or is perceived to have – gender characteristics and/or behaviors that do not conform to sex-based stereotypes.
Intersex: A term used for people who are born with external genitalia, chromosomes or internal reproductive systems that are not traditionally associated with either a “standard” male or female.
Gender Identity: A person’s deeply held internal sense of being male, female or somewhere else on the gender spectrum.
- Gender identity may not always be outwardly expressed
- Awareness of gender identity occurs early in childhood
Gender Expression: How a person chooses to communicate their gender identity to others through clothing, hair, mannerisms and social interactions that are perceived as masculine, feminine or somewhere else on the spectrum.
Gender Transition: Refers to the process through which a person modifies their physical characteristics and/or gender expression to be consistent with their gender identity.
- Whenever possible, ask transgender people which pronoun they would like you to use
- If it is not possible to ask, use the pronoun that is consistent with the person’s appearance
- If you make a mistake, correct yourself. If someone else makes a mistake, correct them.