August 17, 2009

Glossary of Terms

Biological sex: the biological classification of bodies as male or female, based on such factors as external sex organs, internal sexual and reproductive organs, hormones, or chromosomes.

Gender: the social and cultural codes (as opposed to biological sex) used to distinguish between what a society considers "masculine" or "feminine" conduct.

Gender expression: the external characteristics and behaviors that societies define as "masculine" or "feminine"-including such attributes as dress, appearance, mannerisms, speech patterns, and social behavior and interactions.

Gender identity: a person's internal, deeply felt sense of being male or female, or something other than male and female.

Gender-based violence: violence directed against a person on the basis of gender or sex. Gender-based violence can include sexual violence, domestic violence, psychological abuse, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, harmful traditional practices, and discriminatory practices based on gender. The term originally described violence against women but is now widely taken to include violence targeting both women and men because of how they experience and express their genders and sexualities.

Sexual orientation: the way in which a person's sexual and emotional desires are directed. The term categorizes according to the sex of the object of desire-that is, it describes whether a person is attracted primarily to people of the same or opposite sex, or to both.

Heterosexual: a person attracted primarily to people of the opposite sex.

Homosexual: a person attracted primarily to people of the same sex.

Gay: a synonym for homosexual in English and some other languages, sometimes used only to describe males who are attracted primarily to other males.

Lesbian: a woman attracted primarily to other women.

LGBT: lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender; an inclusive term for groups and identities sometimes also associated together as "sexual minorities."