Glossary

Find Your State

Know the laws in your state that protect LGBT people and people living with HIV.

In this section we provide basic definitions of terms used in the Protected and Served? survey. Some refer to matters of identity, and while the definitions below are commonly accepted, it’s also important to remember that identity is fluid. While we have aimed to be as inclusive and comprehensive as possible, some people may feel that they do not fit into these definitions.

AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is generally used to refer to the most severe stage of HIV disease, in which the immune system becomes compromised, leaving the human body susceptible to opportunistic infections it could otherwise defeat. There is some debate among medical professionals as to what actually constitutes an AIDS diagnosis and—given the capability to reverse progression of the disease in many instances—whether the term should continue to be used at all.

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Bisexual people are attracted to and/or sexually active with people regardless of gender.

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Cisgender refers to people whose gender identity is the same as their assigned or presumed sex at birth.

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Criminalization is the process by which behaviors and individuals are transformed into crime and criminals.

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Convenience sampling is a technique for developing a research sample that draws from that part of the population which is close at hand, readily available, or convenient. This type of sampling produces rich results that illustrate the experiences of those who respond, but it is different from random sampling in that it does not produce a sample that accurately represents the demographics of the population.

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Gay is a term that can be used to describe either a man whose primary sexual and romantic attraction is to other men or to reference anyone whose primary sexual and romantic attraction is to a person who is the same sex as themselves.

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Gender expression refers to the way a person expresses gender through dress, grooming habits, mannerisms, and other characteristics.

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Gender identity is an individual’s inner sense of being male or female. Gender identity is not necessarily the same as assigned or presumed sex at birth.

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Gender-nonconforming (GNC) people don’t meet society’s expectations of gender roles.

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HIV or human immunodeficiency virus is a retrovirus that targets the human immune system. Progression of HIV infection can lead to a serious compromise of immune system function, leaving the body susceptible to opportunistic infections against which it could normally defend itself.

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Homophobia is a fear of or hostility toward lesbian, gay, and/or bisexual people, often expressed as discrimination, harassment and violence.

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Intersex is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of natural bodily variations. Intersex people are born with sex characteristics that do not fit typical binary notions of bodies designated “male” or “female.” In some cases, intersex traits are visible at birth, while in others they are not apparent until puberty. Some intersex variations may not be visibly apparent at all. Some people who are intersex identify as binary; others do not. People with intersex conditions should not be assumed to be transgender.

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Lesbian refers to a woman who is romantically and/or sexually attracted to and/or sexually active with other women. “Lesbian” refers exclusively to women while “gay” can refer to either women or men.

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Low-income is defined for the purposes of this report as having an annual household income of less than $20,000.

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People living with HIV include all people who have the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in their blood, including people with an AIDS diagnosis.

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Person of color refers to individuals whose ethnic or racial origins are partly or wholly non-white. For the purposes of this report, people of color include any respondent who identified as African-American, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American, Middle Eastern, or “other” race/ethnicity.

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Queer is an identity used by people who reject conventional categories such as “LGBT” or embrace a political identity as ‘queer’ in addition to being LGB and/or T. It also may include heterosexuals who embrace a non-normative or counter-normative sexual identity.

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Restorative justice emphasizes repairing the harm caused by offenses or crimes, typically through bringing together victims, offenders and community members to decide how to respond, taking into account impact on people, relationships, and the community.

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Same-gender loving is a term most often used in communities of color to describe people with same-sex attractions since gay, homosexual, bisexual, or lesbian can carry negative connotations to some people.

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School-to-Prison Pipeline is the phenomenon of school practices resulting in disproportionate numbers of certain students, including students of color and LGBTQ students, leaving the school system and becoming further at risk for poverty, homelessness and/or incarceration.

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Sexual orientation refers to people’s sexual attraction to same or different-sex people.

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TGNC: See Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming.

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Transfeminine is a broad term used to describe individuals who were assigned the sex “male” at birth, but whose gender identity is along the feminine spectrum of gender. This can encompass those who have medically transitioned and those who have not, and may include (but is not limited to) those who identify as trans woman, MTF (male-to-female), transgender female, transsexual female, genderqueer, etc.

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Transgender refers to people whose gender identity, one’s inner sense of being male, female, or something else, differs from their assigned or presumed sex at birth.

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Transmasculine is a broad term used to describe individuals who were assigned the sex “female” at birth, but whose gender identity is along the masculine spectrum of gender. This can encompass those who have medically transitioned and those who have not, and may include (but is not limited to) those who identify as trans men, FTM (female-to-male), transgender male, transsexual male, genderqueer, etc.

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Transphobia refers to hatred, fear of, or discrimination against transgender or gender-nonconforming (TGNC) people based on their gender identity or expression.

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Transsexual is an older term which originated in the medical and psychological communities. Still preferred by some people who have changed—or seek to change— their bodies through medical interventions (including but not limited to hormones and/or surgeries). Unlike transgender, transsexual is not an umbrella term, and many transgender people do not identify as transsexual.

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