Androgyny: having the characteristics or nature of both male and female; neither specifically feminine nor masculine; suitable to or for either sex 

Bigender: a tendency to move between feminine and masculine gender-typed behaviour depending on context. It is recognized by the APA (American Psychological Association) as a subset of the transgender group. 

Binary: To divide sex or gender into two markedly different categories--male or female, or masculine or feminine.  These categories are usually not inclusive, and their rigidity makes living in these roles challenging for many people who do not identify themselves as male/female or masculine/feminine. 

Bisexual - refers to sexual attraction toward both men and women; the prefix “bi” means “two”, and “sexuality” refers to “the expression of sexual interest,” so when broken into parts, bisexuality can be defined as the expression of sexual interest in two groups (men and women); most definitions do not reject gender binaries; see pansexual for dis-ambiguity 

Body policing- any behavior which (indirectly or directly, intentionally or unintentionally) attempts to correct or control a person's actions regarding their own physical body, frequently with regards to gender expression or size. 

Body- physical manifestation of self

Capitalism - economic theory with the means of production being privately owned and operated for private profit. The owners get the profit, and the workers employed by companies and businesses get wages. There is limited government control in a capitalism economy, and there is an emphasis on class and power relations. There is general agreement that capitalism encourages economic growth. Different governments employ capitalism at varying degrees. 

Code switching - Code switching refers to the act of changing one’s behavior in different environments. It can mean changing languages, changing how one dresses, or any other type of change in behavior from one environment to another. (For further discussion on code switching see an post in which this term is used at ASCQueerTheory Blog.  )

Compulsory able-bodiedness - Compulsory able-bodiedness (the idea of an able-bodied norm) is Robert McRuer’s parallel to Adrienne Rich’s idea of compulsory heterosexuality ) the assumption that it is natural and “normal” for men and women to be attracted to each other and any identities outside of this system are “alternatives”). McRuer also states that compulsory able-bodiedness creates disability, just as compulsory heterosexuality creates queerness. For further reading, visit a blog post in which this term is used at ASCQueerTheory Blog.

Consumerism - Consumerism is a social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods or services in even greater amounts.

Counteridentification - Counteridentification refers to the idea that in a “normative” society, one has two choices: to identify with that society, or to reject that society (counteridentifying with that society). It is related to the idea of disidentification

Crossgender: Socially adopting behaviors or clothing styles generally associated with the opposite sex.

Diaspora: a dispersion of a people, language, or culture that was formerly concentrated in one place 

Dichotomy: a separation into two divisions that differ widely from or contradict each other

Disability:  denotes an impairment in body function, or in the case of cognitive disabilities, an impairment or difference in the way one's mind can or does work.  Disability occurs when a person's body interacts with society.  If that person's body does not "match up" with the norm, they are viewed as disabled.  
1. Visible disabilities are disabilities that are generally physical, and are immediately apparent--such as a person who uses a wheelchair, or a person who uses a cane.
           2.Invisible disabilities are disabilities that are not immediately apparent.  These types of disabilities may be mental or cognitive, and include chronic illnesses such as lupus. 
For more information:, or: 

Discursive - having to do with discourse, written or spoken communication. Discourse can be part of theory especially when thinking about relationships between power, language, and ideology. 

Disidentification - Munoz, in the book Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics, uses this term to describe a 3rd way of relating to identity (the first being to identify and the second being to counter-identify). This middle ground of not identifying exclusively for or exclusively against one’s culture are part of survival skills a minority subject might use to navigate the mainstream. See this blog post. 

Disparity:  A great and marked difference.

Drag kings & queens:  "Dressing in the clothing of the opposite biological sex, or in a manner different than how one will usually dress (i.e. corporate dragî or military dragî). Dragî is often theatrical, and often presents a stereotyped image. Individuals who dress in Dragî may or may not consider themselves part of the transgender community. They also may identify as heterosexual, gay, lesbian, or bisexual."  From: the University of Illinois:

Dualism - Dualism refers to the quality or state of being dual or of having a dual nature.

Epistemology- branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge. It asks questions like “what is knowledge?” and “how do we know what we know?” 

Ethnicity- human group having racial, religious, linguistic, and certain other traits in common

Feminism - a belief or way of thinking which advocates for equal rights and legal protection for women. There are some who think women are made (see social construction) into inferiors through how women are taught from childhood how to act to how to dress. There are others who are not as entrenched in theory and simply work to balancing the inequality. There are many different types of feminist thinking, and they are influenced by a variety of things from postmodern thought to Marxism to the racial/ethnic/sexual/gender identity. Feminism influences a variety of things (law, social practices, art, philosophy and much more) in its desire to bring about equality. A feminist is a person who believes in these ideals. 

Gay - refers to homosexuality, a sexual attraction towards members of the same sex/gender; can refer to homosexual men, only (ex. in the acronym, LGBT, “lesbian” refers homosexual women and “gay” refers to homosexual men) 

Gender non-conformity: : behavior or gender expression that does not conform to dominant gender norms.

Gender Roles - refers to social and behavior norms that, within a specific culture, are widely considered to be socially appropriate for individuals of a certain sex; gender role theorists assert that observed social and behavioral differences between genders are, at least in part, the product of social construction

Gender- Can be looked at in many ways, but is commonly thought of as a person’s outward and inward portrayal of their sex. However, gender can also be seen as something entirely unrelated to sex. 

Gendering - this has to do with the idea that there are two genders and that there are behaviors, attitudes and practices which differ according to gender. Some people think of gender as a performance, as something the performer can change at will. People can be gendered, as in given a gender according to how they present. ?

Genderqueer: a catch-all term for gender identities other than man and woman. People who identify as genderqueer may think of themselves as being both man and woman, as being neither man nor woman, or as falling completely outside the gender binary. They may express a combination of masculinity and femininity, one or the other, or neither.

Hegemony: control or dominating influence by one person or group, especially by one political group over society or one nation over others 

Heteronormativity- Societal lifestyle standards that prioritize heterosexual marriage and families, and encourage the assumption that hetersexuality is the “normal” sexual orientation

Heterosexism- Bias towards heterosexuals (over homosexuals, bisexuals, transgender individuals and anyone else who might be considered sexually queer) and also an assumption that everyone is heterosexual

Hijras:  "Hijras are men who voluntarily go through castration and penectomy and thus, are neither men nor women. They perform as women at important Indian ceremonies, such as weddings and birth ceremonies, as "perceived guarantors of fertility". Though they are culturally sanctioned, they are not regarded as full citizens either and have few political rights. Their community structure is very religious (each hijra has guru) and hierarchical, mirroring normative society. Their motivation for castration is part of a religious ritual to a goddess and their history is shrouded in myth. Hijras are similar to drag queens, by virtue that they parade as women, but they are not the same." From:

Homonormativity- Much like heteronormativity in that it endorses normative and family-oriented formations associated with domestic partnership, adoption, and gender-normative social roles; tends to marginalize those who challenge serial monogamy and those – including transgender, bisexual, pansexual, and intersex constituencies – who feel oppressed by a binary gender or sex system (-Queer Futures: The Homonormativity Issue)

Intersectionality - Intersectionality is the idea that many different identities interesect or overlap. 
Intersectionality is a sociological theory suggesting that—and seeking to examine how—various socially and culturally constructed categories of discrimination interact on multiple and often simultaneous levels, contributing to systematic social inequality. Intersectionality holds that the classical models of oppression within society, such as those based on race/ethnicity, gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, class, or disability do not act independently of one another; instead, these forms of oppression interrelate creating a system of oppression that reflects the "intersection" of multiple forms of discrimination. 

Intersex- a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male (Intersex Society of North America)

Lesbian - refers to sexual and romantic desire between women 

LGBT - acronym standing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender

Marxism - political and economic theories of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. It is based a “materialist conception of history” or an interpretation of history focused on how humans produce the necessities of life. The idea is that social change occurs as struggle between classes to improve their conditions. Marxists believe that capitalism (see capitalism) leads to the oppression of the proletariat, the lower classes, who spend their lives working for the benefit of the bourgeoisie, who are the wealthy urban classes who own the means for production. Marxist thinking influences a variety of disciplines from economics to cultural studies to education. 

Masculinity/femininity - Masculinity and femininity are two separate extremes of what is seen as the acceptable gender binary. Masculinity can encompass many different things, from actual physical “masculinity” to “acting manly” (see blog post for further discussion of acting manly). Femininity can encompass the female body and “acting womanly”. However, masculinity is seen as something that is desired, whereas femininity is something to stay away from. This binary creates the illusion that masculinity is somehow greater than femininity, but in reality, femininity and masculinity lie on a spectrum, and there is no set of rules that defines either feminity, masculinity, or any other identity along the spectrum.

Othering - Othering is the act of taking anything that is seen as “outside the norm” and forcing that idea upon anyone or anything that is outside of that norm.

Panoptical:  Technically, to be able to see everything possible in one take.  It comes from the Panopticon, a type of prison developed by Jeremy Bentham in 1785.  It is a system of having a guard in the center of a circle of cells, so that those who are imprisoned can always see the guard booth, but not always see the guard.  The guard (if there is one) can see all of the prisoners at once.  It makes it so that prisoners are never certain whether or not they are being watched, but that they always could be.  It reinforces a system of self-policing.  

Pansexual - characterized by the potential for sexual and romantic desire towards people regardless of their gender identity or biological sex; pansexuality moves past gender binaries attached to bisexuality (also referred to as “omnisexuality”) 

Passing - Usually refers to the experience of being seen/recognized as the gender one identifies with; however, one can “pass” or “not pass” as different identities (passing as straight, for example).

Postmodern - a historical time period encompassing part of the 20th and 21st centuries. 
Postmodernism is thought to be intentional departure from or a reaction to modernist thinking and ideas. It rejects grand narratives or grand all encompassing theories. It is more focused on the role of language, power relations, and motivations. It influences many disciplines, from feminist thinking to art to literature to linguistics.

Privilege - an advantage, right, or benefit that is not available to everyone; the rights and advantages enjoyed by a relatively small group of people, usually as a result of wealth or social status 

Queer - an umbrella term used to describe identities, sexualities or behaviors that deviate from society deems normal, acceptable or appropriate; can refer specifically to LGBT-identifying people; can also more broadly encompass other non-mainstream identities and sexualities 

a.       quare (variant)- origin: from the African American vernacular, meaning “slightly off kilter” or odd; refers to a person whose sexual and gender identities intersect with their racial subjectivity; speaks to the experiences of and compounding identities of queer people of color, taking intersectionality into account
For further reading, visit the
post in which this term is used at 
ASCQueerTheory Blog
b.       kuaer (variant) - origin: from the combination of the Chinese characters “kua” (meaning crossing, praised or proud) and er (meaning child/children and connotes vibrance, the ability to grow and openness to learning); a broad term referring to people who identify with transnationalism, feminism and quare politics
For further reading, visit the
post in which this term is used at ASCQueerTheory Blog

Queer Theory - examination and critique of society and culture using queerness as a political lens; emerged from and builds upon feminist studies and LGBT studies; seeks to explore and contest categorization of gender and sexuality and asserts that identities are much too complex and multi-layered to be categorized 

Race- A classification of humans based on skin color, decent, language, culture - people of color

Scientific Racism - Scientific racism refers to Siobhan Somerville’s ideas about the connections between the racist science of the 19th and 20th century and the naming of "homosexuals" as a particular kind of degenerate person. She maps a similar process of examining the physical body for racial difference by scientists that is then used to look for sexual difference and determine who is "homosexual" or "inverted." (See )

Sex positive: The view that sexual expression is natural, good and ought to be celebrated, and do not advocate many forms of sexual heierarchy, which places married, heterosexual sex as the most desirable.  The sex positive movement also advocates for comprehensive sex ed.

Sex- (1) The property or quality by which organisms are classified based on their reproductive organs and functions. (2) a division of this classification- such as “male” or “female”. Often confused with gender.

Sexing - this has to do with the idea that there are two sexes and people must be assigned to either categories

Social acceptability - Refers to anything that is “acceptable” by the “norms” that have been set by society. 

Social Construction - social practices create objects and ideas. The idea is that when something is socially constructed, it could not exist had we not created it or defined and categorized it. A bike is a social construction because it was created as a result of social practices. Gender is considered by some a social construction in that it is not a result of biology but rather a result of social and historical processes of people which define and perpetuate it. 

Social position: the position of an individual in a given society and culture. Social positions an individual may hold fall into the categories of occupation, family, sex and race, among others 

Socio-economic status: A measure of a person's social position in relation to others', based on that person's economic status (based on one's income, education, and occupation)

Straight/Heterosexual - refers to heterosexuality, a sexual attraction towards members of the “opposite” sex/gender

Toxicity: the state of being poisonous to somebody or something; By extension, the word may be metaphorically used to describe toxic effects on larger and more complex groups, such as the family unit or society at large 

Transgender - refers to a variety of individuals, groups and behaviors that deviate from the conventional notions of male or female gender roles; used to describe the state of one’s gender identity (identification) or gender expression/presentation when it does not match one’s biological or assigned sex (and assumed gender); does not imply a specific sexual orientation; transgender identities include but are not limited to transsexual, cross-dresser, genderqueer and androgyne (pronounced “AN-dre-JYNE”); while “transgender” and “transsexual” are often used interchangeably/most commonly used to mean “transsexual”, transsexual is only one of the numerous gender identities that fall under the umbrella term, “transgender”

Transnational: not confined to a single nation or state, but including, extending over, or operating within more than one 

Transsexual - refers to identifying as, or desiring to live and be accepted as a member of the sex opposite to that assigned at birth; most transsexual individuals undergo a gender transition (the process of changing genders) that may or may not include sexual reassignment surgery (surgical procedures that alters one’s existing corporal sexual characteristics to resemble those of the opposite sex)

Words to watch out for - words which are not just insults, but have a special social connotation

Fag - used primarily in the West as an insulting term for a gay man. This word can be "reclaimed" in a sense, or used positively in expressions like "fag hag" but in general, it's an expression you should avoid. If someone self-identifies as a fag it's their right, but to most of the community it's an epithet with a long history.

Dyke - used historically as an insulting term for a lesbian. This word has been reclaimed to a greater extent than "fag", with websites like "effing dykes" using it simply as a word for a lesbian, but while it may be appropriate for use in certain settings within the community, it's not a polite term in general.

Tranny - used as an insult for a trans person. Some trans people have started to self-identify as trannies, or use the word in a joking context, but it is still extremely rude and generally just shouldn't be used. It is unfortunately a word that is still heard on television and radio frequently, because of the U.S.'s general ignorance of trans issues.

hermaphrodite - in biology, a hermaphrodite is a plant or animal with reproductive organs normally associated with both male and female sexes. However, it has historically been used to describe people with "ambiguous" genitalia, but it's now considered stigmatizing and misleading, and the term "intersex" is now preferred.

LUG/BUG* - Lesbian Until Graduation / Bisexual Until Graduation - slang terms for someone (usually a woman) who dates the same sex in college or university but will "settle down" afterward with the opposite sex. While this can be a self-identifying term, it is frequently used to disparage women who are seen to be "experimenting" with their sexuality, and is often used as an insult within the gay community. Words like this can be seen as policing people's sexual identities, and so should be avoided.