While it may be uncomfortable or even taboo for some people to talk about sex, it is important to try and understand the many terms used to describe sexual attraction, behavior, and orientation. By doing so, we can work towards a more inclusive and accepting society that respects and values all individuals, regardless of their sexual preferences or identities.
Allosexual–An adjective used to describe people who do experience sexual attraction and are not asexual.
Androsexual–Folks who are sexually attracted to men and those with masculine features. So, a person who is androsexual can like men AND women, so long as those women look masculine.
Asexual–Those who identify as asexual actually never feel sexual attraction toward anyone. They have no desires when it comes to sex. However, they do still have romantic desires unrelated to sex.
Aromantic–A romantic orientation that describes people who experience little or no romantic attraction, regardless of sex or gender.
Autosexual–This is a sexual orientation where one has sex with and is sexually attracted toward oneself. Self-pleasure is more enjoyable for these individuals than sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual activity.
BDSM–An acronym that stands for bondage and discipline, domination and submission, sadism and masochism.
Bicurious–This refers to people who are questioning or exploring bisexuality, often due to a curiosity about one’s romantic or sexual attraction to people of the same or different genders.
Biphobia–The irrational fear of love, affection, or sexual behavior of people who identify as bisexual. Expressed as negative feelings, erasure, attitudes, actions, and institutional discrimination against those perceived as bisexual, or the fear of being perceived as bisexual.
Bisexual–These are folks who are attracted sexually/romantically to both genders; a man who is attracted to men and women is bisexual and again, vice versa.
Cisgender–The term describes anyone who knows themselves to be the gender they were assigned at birth. Antonym of transgender. Cisgender has its origin in the Latin-derived prefix cis, meaning “on the same side.
Demisexual–The term describes a person who does not experience sexual attraction to another person unless, or until, they have formed an emotional connection with that person.
Fluid–Describes an identity that changes over time within or between available options. Often combined another identity, such as “gender fluid” or “sexually fluid.”
Gay–The term describes folks who are sexually or romantically attracted to people of the same gender and not to people of a different gender.
Gender Binary–A system of thinking in which there are only two genders (man and woman).
Gender Queer–This is a person who does not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions but identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.
Graysexual–Folks who think they’re asexual, but also experience sexual desire at very random, rare occasions would identify as graysexual. They can only feel sexual desire under certain conditions or even only at random times here and there.
Gynosexual–This is basically the opposite of androsexual. When someone identifies as gynosexual, they have a sexual attraction to women with feminine features. So, anyone attracted to women can also be attracted to men and other genders that appear to be very feminine in nature.
Heteroflexible–This is situational sexual behavior. It is predominantly heterosexual but these folks might feel the urge for someone of the same sex only occasionally.
Lesbian–A term that describes women who are attracted to other females in a sexual way.
LGBTQIA+–The letters in the LGBTQIA+ acronym stand for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, and asexual. The + symbol in LGBTQIA+ refers to the fact that there are many sexual orientations and gender identities that are part of the broader LGBTQIA community but aren’t included as part of the acronym.
Misgender–The act of incorrectly classifying another person’s gender. Can refer to using the incorrect pronoun for someone, or using other incorrect gendered language (i.e. “sir” or “ma’am.”)
Non-Binary–A gender identity that specifically rejects the notion of binary gender. Can sometimes be used interchangeably with genderqueer.
Pangender–Pansexual is used to describe someone’s sexual orientation, while pangender is used to describe someone’s gender identity.
Pansexual–This is also known as omnisexual, and is the sexual, romantic or emotional attraction towards people regardless of their sex or gender identity. Pansexual people may refer to themselves as gender-blind.
Polyamorous–Describes people who have consensual relationships that involve multiple partners.
Polysexual–This is very similar to pansexuality. While pansexuals are attracted to all genders and sexes, polysexuals are attracted to some, but not all. For example, a polysexual person may be attracted to most people regardless but is uncomfortable with the idea of being with girls.
Pomosexual–A term used to refer to people who reject sexuality labels or don’t identify with any of them. Pomosexual is not necessarily an identity.
Pronouns–The part of speech used to refer to someone in the third person. Examples include she/her/hers, they/them/theirs, he/him/his. Pronouns are chosen by each individual and can only be known when shared. Sharing pronouns during introductions, in email signatures, and on name tags is now common practice in order to ensure all people are referred to respectfully. “Pronoun” is more accurate than the outdated phrase “preferred pronoun.”
Queer– Describes those who fall under any sexual orientation that is not heterosexual. However, it’s also used to describe those who don’t fit under any other sexuality at all.
Sex-repulsed–Similar to sex-averse, sex-repulsed is on the spectrum of asexuality and describes those who are asexual and are repulsed by or extremely disinterested in sex or sexual behavior
Skoliosexual–A new term that means being primarily sexually, romantically, and/or aesthetically attracted to genderqueer, transgender, and/or non-binary people. In other words, skoliosexual can be used to describe attraction to anyone under the larger umbrella of genderqueer.
Solo Polyamory–This is a form of ethical non-monogamy practiced by individuals who enjoy multiple romantic and/or sexual relationships at the same time, and who still want to maintain an independent or ‘single’ lifestyle.
Straight–These are heterosexuals who are attracted to the opposite sex, men to women and vice versa.
Transphobia–An intense dislike of or strong prejudice against transgender people.
Transsexual–Folks who identify as transgender or transsexual are usually people who are born with typical male or female anatomies but feel as though they’ve been born into the “wrong body.” For example, a person who identifies as transgender or transsexual may have typical female anatomy but feel like a male and seek to become male by taking hormones or electing to have sex reassignment surgeries.
Did we lose you?
Expanding the language you use to describe your sexuality can essentially provide guidance, validation, and access to community, while on your journey of sexual self-discovery and satisfaction.