A few words and terms you will see me use frequently, here and in all my writing. In addition to my definitions here, the Human Rights Campaign has a handy glossary and so does GLAAD.
These aren’t in alphabetical order — rather, they are in the order I am sometimes asked to explain them.
This is the acronym I usually use; it stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Two Spirit. The plus sign indicates that there is more than just these letters (for example, my genderqueer identity is not represented by this acronym). There are other acronyms and you can have an informative time googling variations on this.
Genderqueer is an identity label. When I identify myself as genderqueer this means that I do not see myself as either binary of male or female. My gender expression, and my understanding of my gender, is somewhere along the continuum between girl and boy. As a genderqueer person, I also identify as transgender.
Transgender is an identity label. For myself, being transgender means that the sex assigned to each of us at birth does not match our understanding of our gender. There is a lot of nuance for each person who is trans, and again, this is very personal and some people are more comfortable than others discussing their experience of being trans.
Cisgender is an identity label that denotes that a person’s gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth.
The word queer was used for many years as a slur against LGBTQIA+ people, and as a community many of us have reclaimed this word. It functions in part as a catch-all endearment of ourselves and each other as a community, and is another very personal understanding for each of us.
People who use the term neurodiverse include those on the autism spectrum, people with ADD/ADHD, and others. [Wikipedia link on neurodiversity]
Pansexual is a sexual orientation label. For me, being pansexual means that I can experience sexual or romantic attraction to someone regardless of their gender expression or identity. Some people I know use the term bisexual to connote this; it is very personal, and worth asking about when you are getting to know someone and there is a level of trust to justify a question like this.
Polyamory (not polygamy) is a relationship model in which consenting adults practice ethical non-monogamy. You may see this written about as “open relationships” as well. The key in healthy, sustainable poly relationships — besides communication — is that every person in the relationships is aware of the others and has consented to the relationships that they are each a part of. There’s a lot more to it than that, and I’m happy to wax eloquently about it from time to time.
A note about pronouns:
My pronouns, the way I want to be referred to when you are speaking about me to yourself or others, are they/them/theirs. Not all genderqueer people use these pronouns. There are many other types of pronouns, some common and some obscure.
Your best bet is to make it a practice to introduce yourself to new people with your name and pronouns, because this indicates to that person that you care about addressing them correctly, and that you are a safe person to give those pronouns to. [Obviously, be a safe person to give pronouns to.]