Queer Terminology from A to Q


Queer Terminology from A to Q

3 years ago 3 years ago Published by
This toolkit was developed by QMUNITY.


This Q Glossary may appear to be simply a list of words, but words have power. Words matter.

Words name and describe. If there are no words that fit, then LGBTQ2S+ identities, experiences and realities remain outside of language, silenced and invisible, unable to be recognized, communicated or shared.

Words can be powerful tools used to empower, include, affirm, acknowledge, identify, validate, understand, respect, dignify, unify, humanize, celebrate, embrace and heal.

But words can also be weapons. We know that the children’s rhyme that ends with, “but names can never hurt me,” just isn’t true. Words can be used with the intent to invalidate, intimidate, belittle, bully, divide, dominate, ostracize, erase, judge and ridicule. Many words have been used against LGBTQ2S+ communities in this way.

Words in this glossary reflect the struggle to create, choose, use and reclaim terminology. The struggle for words that build people up instead of tear them down is at the heart of our movement.

QMUNITY affirms the right of individuals to name, define and describe themselves. Respectful and inclusive language honours this right.

Instead of relying on assumptions or labelling others, start by paying close attention to what someone says about themselves. If appropriate, respectfully ask the person “what language would you like me to use?” Do your best to speak and write that back, to them and about them. Honour this, even when it is not the language you yourself might use.

It is people who give words meaning. We do not make meaning in a vacuum, but in the context of relationships that express power, privilege and oppression. The meaning of queer terminology is fluid. They change within the context of time and space, intentions and circumstances, and affect individuals in different ways.

This glossary was developed and revised by QMUNITY staff, volunteers and community members through dialogue and discussion.

QMUNITY. (2019). Queer Terminology from A to Q. Retrieved from

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