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Serving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Victims

Common Terms

The following terms, which were provided by the National Women's Alliance, should be considered general resources for users, particularly those relatively new to providing services to the audiences specific to this toolkit. They are not intended to be definitive and may be refined as we periodically review and update the kit's content to reflect changes in use of terms.

Bisexual: People who are emotionally and sexually attracted to both men and women.

Coming out: When someone willingly comes out, they accept and let others know of their previously hidden sexual orientation or gender identity. Many people, however, do not do so willingly.

Domestic partner: Unmarried partners who live together. Domestic partners may be of the same or different sexes or the same sex and have some legal benefits by registering in some municipalities and states.

Gay: Commonly refers to men who are emotionally and sexually attracted to other men, but can refer to women who are attracted to women.

Gender expression: Reflection of gender identity through dress, mannerisms, and so forth.

Gender identity: A person's sense of self as being either male or female; gender identity does not always match biological sex. For example, a person may be born biologically male yet have a female gender identity.

Homophobia: Irrational fear or hatred of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people; the responses of fear, disgust, anger, discomfort, and aversion that individuals experience in dealing with gay people. Homophobia often is manifested in the form of discrimination and prejudice.

Intersex: People born with some combination of male and female genitals.

Lesbian: Women who are emotionally and sexually attracted to other women.

Same-sex partner violence: Violence, such as physical, emotional, financial, and/or psychological abuse, experienced in same-sex relationships.

Sexual orientation: Indicates whether a person is attracted to men, women, or both.

Transgender: People whose psychological self (gender identity or expression) differs from their physical self (the sexual organs with which they were born). The term is sometimes shortened to trans or TG and includes, among other categories, transsexuals (those who have surgery or take hormones), cross dressers, and transvestites.