LGBT+ Glossary terms to be aware of from GaYme Changer by Jens Schadendorf

By Guest Contributor LID Publishing

We look at the recent book GaYme Changer by Jens Schadendorf, to see some commonly used terms and abbreviations to understand diversity, LGBT+ issues and terminology better.



Ally – Typically, a straight, cisgender person who works to support the LGBT+ community.

Asexual – Refers to individuals with a lack of desire for sex and/or sexual partners.

Bias – See “Unconscious bias.”

Bisexual – Refers to individuals with a capacity for sexual attraction to more than one gender.

Cisgender or Cis – Adjectives describing people who continue to identify with the gender identity assigned to them at birth. The terms come from the Latin “cis,” meaning “on this side of” to distinguish from “trans” meaning “on the other side of.” Both terms – “cis” and “transgender” – refer only to gender identity, not sexual identity/ orientation, which are about whom we feel emotionally, sexually, and/or romantically attracted to. Cis and transgender people can be homo- or heterosexual or otherwise sexually oriented, for example bisexual or asexual.

Closeted – See “In the closet.”

Coming out – The process of revealing a previously hidden sexual or gender identity to others.

“Conversion therapy” – A pseudoscientific therapy promising to “return” LGBT+ people to a “natural,” i.e. straight sexual orientation. It can cause severe long-term psychological damage, even increasing suicide risk. The UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination has called for a global ban.

D&I – Diversity and inclusion. Sometimes also written as “I&D.” “D&I management” refers to the running of a company’s strategies, policies and programs on D&I, but “D&I” alone can often be read as standing for this, e.g. “He is Head of LGBT+ D&I.” Recently, “belonging” has also come to be seen as important, meaning “DIB” has replaced “D&I” in some instances.

Equal marriage/marriage equality/same-sex marriage – The right for people to marry the partner of their choice, regardless of gender. It has recently become legal in many countries in the West, Latin America, or even Taiwan, but the fight for it continues in many other countries around the world.

Gay – Emotionally/romantically/sexually attracted to people of the same sex. Most commonly used to refer to men with same-sex attraction, though many lesbians also use the term to describe themselves.

Gender identity – Refers to the gender with which an individual identifies, regardless of whether it conforms to the gender assigned to them at birth. Gender identities can be male, female, or nonbinary (see “Nonbinary”).

Gender-nonconforming – See “Nonbinary.”

Gender-noncompliant – See “Nonbinary.”

Heterosexual – Refers to individuals solely experiencing sexual/ romantic attraction to individuals of the “opposite” gender. See “Straight.”

Homosexual – Refers to individuals solely experiencing sexual/ romantic attraction to individuals of the same gender (see “Gay”). Now widely seen mainly as a scientific term, not commonly used by gay people to refer to themselves.

Homophobia – Prejudice against, anxiety about and ill-treatment of lesbian and gay people, though it often refers more generally to mistreatment of any LGBT+ person. Related terms are “biphobia” and “transphobia.”

In the closet – Refers to an individual who has not yet come out (see “Coming out”), that is, revealed their true sexual/gender identity publicly.

IDAHOBIT – International Day Against Homo-, Bi- and Trans- phobia. The day is May 17, because it was on that date in 1990 that homosexuality was removed from the WHO’s list of diseases.

Intersectionality – A theoretical and practical framework for under- standing and managing discrimination and under-representation not simply as a matter of individual minority groups – women, people of colour, the disabled, LGBT+ people – but via the way these factors combine. For instance, a company might have a strong LGBT+ ERG, but it might still be dominated by men, with ethnic minorities, women, and others remaining marginalized.

Intersex – Refers to individuals born with either a mix of male and female or non-gender-specific genitalia and/or other biological attributes. Intersex people may identify as male or female or non- binary, but many people who identify as nonbinary are not intersex.

Lesbian – Primarily refers to women emotionally/romantically/sexually attracted toward women, though some nonbinary people also use the term to describe themselves.

LGBT+ – Initials standing for lesbian, gay, bi, and trans. The “+” stands for other less clearly definable sexual and/or gender identities such as “asexual,” “questioning,” and “pansexual.” Variants include LGBTQ, with the “Q” standing for “queer” or “questioning,” LGBTI, with the “I” standing for “intersex,” and LGBTIA, with the “A” stand- ing for “asexual/aromantic.”

“LGBT-free zones” – This term refers to areas of Poland, totaling about a third of the country’s territory, that have declared them- selves unwelcoming to LGBT+ people and/or so-called “LGBT ideology”, thereby legitimizing bullying, harassment, hate speech, and even violence.

Nonbinary – A catch-all term referring to those whose gender identity cannot simply be defined as “male” or “female.” Alternative or similar terms are “gender-noncompliant,” “gender-nonconforming,” or “gender-neutral.” Some nonbinary people identify with aspects of male and female identities, while others reject them entirely. With respect to their gender expression, nonbinary people can present as masculine, feminine (“femme”) or both or neither and this can change over time (“gender-fluid”). (In the acronym LGBTQ, all these are also part of the “Q,” covering a variety of forms of queerness.)

Queer – Originally a derogatory term for LGBT+ people, it was long ago repurposed as a badge of pride and identity by the community. Today it is often used similarly to “nonbinary” or the “+” in “LGBT+” to refer to the wider spectrum of gender and sexual orientations.

Questioning – Describes a process of exploration of one’s sexual/ gender identity, or of being in a permanent or long-term state of uncertainty about it.

Straight – Standard colloquial terminology for “heterosexual.”

Trans – An umbrella term for individuals who do not identify with or only partially identify with the gender assigned to them at birth. Terms falling within this broad category include transgender, trans- sexual, gender-queer (GQ), gender-fluid, nonbinary, gender-variant, crossdresser, genderless, agender, nongender, third gender, bi-gender, trans man, trans woman, trans masculine, trans feminine and neutrois. “Transgender man” or “trans man” refers to someone assigned a female gender identity at birth who now identifies as male. “Transgender woman” or “trans woman” refers to someone assigned a male identity at birth who now identifies as female. Both fall within the category “Transgender.”

Transitioning – A trans individual’s process of adopting the gender identity with which they identify. Most commonly understood to be the medical process, involving surgery and/or hormone therapies, but not all trans people go through this. It can also describe the process they go through of altering their gender identity publically,

Out, or Out of the closet – Refers to individuals who have come out (see Coming out). Not to be confused with the terms “outed” or “out- ing,” which generally refer to the revelation being made by someone else, generally without the individual’s consent.

Pansexual – Refers to individuals with the capacity to be attracted to anyone, regardless of sexual and gender identity.

Pinkwashing – This describes strategies aimed at promoting products, brands, or companies through the appealing appearance of being LGBT+-friendly without really being so.

Pronoun – The basic meaning is words like “she,” “he,” or “they” used to refer to individuals without naming them. The singular, gender-specific terms become problematic when referring to individuals who do not identify with a specific gender. Many such individuals now opt to be referred to by what are called “gender-neutral pronouns,” which, in practice, usually means using “they” and “them” as singular pronouns – as is already commonly done in instances where gender is not known, e.g. “If anyone wants to know more, they can get in touch with…” The new pronouns “ze” and “zir” are also some-times used, both in official documents such as passports, coming out to friends and family, and wearing different clothes.

Unconscious bias – In the context of D&I, e.g. LGBT+ D&I (see definitions of these terms here), “bias” refers to predispositions that can lead to discrimination against minority groups, e.g. top managers who are predominantly white and male may be more likely to hire – or even just select for interview – people like themselves. Such tendencies are often so habitual as to go unnoticed by those perpetrating them, which leads to the concept of “unconscious bias.” “Unconscious bias training,” helping people see beyond their unquestioned assumptions, has therefore become a key element in corporate D&I.


JENS SCHADENDORF is an economist, author and keynote-speaker on topics related to diversity and inclusion (D&I), primarily LGBT+ D&I, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and leadership. He also advises companies, scientists, and managers on book projects globally and consults on communications, change, and CSR matters. Alongside this, he is also an independent LGBT+ diversity researcher at the Chair of Business Ethics at the Technical University of Munich, Germany.



Suggested Reading

The LGBT+ community has experienced a stunning development in a short period of time: yesterday marginalized, stigmatized, and criminalized, now champions of creativity, diversity and innovation in a highly competitive world. In addition, corporate social responsibility and ethical demands for inclusivity have become economic directives that every organization would like to attain. The struggle of recognition is not over yet, but in workplaces and markets, gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and queer individuals have become symbols of diversity and economic power – true GaYme Changers developing the global economy faster and for the better.

Illustrated by fascinating stories around individuals, companies, nonprofits and a fast-growing cohort of organizations, Jens Schadendorf has traced the LGBT+ community and an increasing number of their allies from across the globe to discover the start of a revolution. Supported by up-to-date research, he shows that investment in LGBT+ inclusion delivers a powerful return. Always – even in times of hostility, resistance and crisis – it is economically and ethically beneficial for companies and societies and every human being, to let LGBT+ members develop into dynamic forces, rooted in new forms of cooperation and learning for ga(y)me changing results.

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