Glossary of terms

It’s important to note that these terms may mean different things to different people, and we’ve tried to make generalized descriptions. It’s also most important to note that people weren’t meant to be in a box, so if you feel that none of these fit you that’s completely okay. You are you and you’re the best at that.

Asexual  a person who experiences no sexual attraction to other people, and/or no desire for sexual activity. However the term asexual to some is an umbrella term and includes demisexual, graysexual (see definitions below). (Also known as ‘ace’)

Bisexual a person who experiences romantic attraction and/or sexual attraction towards people of more than one gender.

Demisexual a person who only experiences sexual attraction to people with whom they form an emotional connection.

Gay a person who experiences sexual and/or romantic attraction to those of the same sex. Predominantly this term is used for those who identify as male.

Gender fluid a person who does not identify as having a fixed gender.

Gender nonconforming, gender variant a person whose gender expression is not limited by the stereotypical masculine and feminine gender ‘norms’.

Genderqueer an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different to the binary male or female.

Graysexual sometimes referred to as the grey space between sexuality and asexuality. People who identify as graysexual (or grey-A or gray ace) sometimes experience sexual attraction towards other (some say infrequently or mildly), and may or may not have any desire to have sexual contact.

Intersex a person who is born with sex chromosomes, external genitalia and/or internal reproductive parts of both genders.

Lesbian a person who identifies as female who is sexually and/or romantically attracted to others who identify as female.

Non-binary a description of a gender identity that is neither male nor female.

Pansexual a person whose sexual and/or romantic attraction is based on personalised traits/connection/physical characteristics – regardless of the other person’s  assigned gender or gender identity.

Polysexual a term that means a lot of different things to different people. Some say it is the attraction to more than one gender, therefore bisexuality and pansexuality are under this umbrella term. Some believe it is the attraction to some but not all gender expressions.

Queer an umbrella term encompassing all identities and expressions outside of the heterosexual, monogamous and gender normative majority.

Questioning a person who is in the process of questioning their gender identity, sexuality and/or gender expression.

Straight a person who experiences sexual and/or romantic attraction to those of the opposite sex.

Transfeminine a term for a range of identities where the female identity or femininity is prominent.

Transgender a person whose gender identity differs from that which was assigned at birth.

Transmasculine a term for a range of identities where the male identity or masculinity is prominent.


Māori and Pacific Islands gender diversity terms

Taken from Statistics New Zealand:

Ira tāngata: Gender diverse. (Note the macron over the ‘a’ in ‘tāngata’ defines the broadness/diverseness of gender.) How people live their life.

Takatāpui: The traditional meaning of takatāpui is ‘intimate companion of the same sex’. Many Māori people have adopted this term to describe themselves, instead of or in addition to terms such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, or transgender. It refers to cultural and sexual/gender identity (Pega, Gray, & Veale, 2010). Also spelt takataapui.

Tangata ira tāne: Someone born biologically female who has a male gender identity.

Whakawahine, hinehī, hinehua: Terms describing someone born biologically male who has a female gender identity.

The following terms have wider meaning and are best understood within their cultural context.

Fa’afafine (Samoa, American Samoa, and Tokelau);

Fakaleiti or leiti (Tonga);

Fakafifine (Niue),

Akava’ine (Cook Islands);

Mahu (Tahiti and Hawaii);

Vakasalewalewa (Fiji);

Palopa (Papua New Guinea):