Department of Health

Rainbow eQuality guide definitions and inclusive language

The following definitions are provided to assist with understanding the terminology used throughout the Rainbow eQuality guide.  It is recommended that these are read in conjunction with the Victorian Public Sector Inclusive Language Guide.  The Guide has been developed with the assistance of the Victorian Government LGBTI Taskforce and other community advocates and aims to equip people with the correct terminology to promote safer spaces for LGBTI Victorians.

The term Aboriginal is used in this resource to refer to both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Affirmed gender
The gender to which one identifies which may or may not match the individual's gender at birth.

A person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to persons of the same and opposite sex.

Prejudice, stigma, discrimination or aversion toward bisexuality and bisexual people as a social group or as individuals.

Brotherboy (or brothaboy) is an Aboriginal English word that is broadly similar in meaning to ‘transgender man’. Brotherboys often identify as or live as men, and in some traditional communities gay women can also be included. Not all Aboriginal people who identify as transgender or gay call themselves brotherboys. Brotherboys are distinct from the wider LGBTI community with their own customs and identities.

This refers to people whose gender identity is in line with the social expectations of their sex assigned at birth.  It is a term used to describe people who are not transgender.

Coming out
The process through which an individual comes to recognise and acknowledge (both to self and to others) their sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or intersex status.

A person who has an emotional need to express their alternate gender identity and be accepted in that role on a less permanent basis.

Cultural competence/awareness
An approach that is responsive to the beliefs, values and practices of different groups or populations. The term is often used to highlight differences between the values and practices of minority and marginal groups and those of the dominant culture. While the term has most commonly been applied to ethnic and religious minorities it has recently been used to include minority sexual and gender diverse communities and their unique beliefs, values and practices.

Fluid sexual orientation
The concept that attraction to genders can change over time and/or circumstance.

A person whose primary emotional and sexual attraction is towards people of the same sex. The term is most commonly applied to men, although some women use this term.

Gender diversity
The term refers to people who fall outside the typical range of masculinity or femininity with regards to gender identity. It includes but is not limited to people who identify as agender (having no gender or androgenous), bigender (both a male and female) or as non-binary (neither male nor female). Some non-binary people identify as gender queer or gender fluid.

Gender identity
A person’s sense of identity defined in relation to the categories male and female, other or neither. For some people their sense of gender identity can be fluid (or change) over time.

Gender questioning
A person whose sense of themselves is inconsistent in some way with the binary categories of male and female and who is in the process of redefining their gender.

The belief that everyone is, or should be, heterosexual and cisgender and that being non-heterosexual, or being gender diverse, is unhealthy and unnatural. Heterosexism can include biphobia, homophobia and transphobia and a fear of intersex people who challenge the assumption that there are only two sexes.

A term used to describe the irrational fear, hatred, aversion to or discrimination against people who are homosexual, or same-sex attracted, or who are perceived to be homosexual or same-sex attracted.

Inclusive service provision
The provision of services that are culturally sensitive and aware. This includes the provision of services that are able to meet the needs of people who are LGBTI in a culturally appropriate and sensitive manner.

Internalised biphobia
The internalisation by bisexual people of negative attitudes and feelings towards bisexuality.

Internalised homophobia
The internalisation by lesbians and gay men of negative attitudes and feelings towards homosexuality.

Internalised transphobia
The internalisation by transgender people of negative attitudes and feelings towards being transgender.

A woman who is same sex attracted and whose primary emotional and sexual attraction is towards other women of the same sex. 

An acronym used to describe the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community. Also sometimes written as GLBTI or LGBTIQ (including queer) among other variants.

Men who have sex with men (MSM)
Gay and bisexual men as well as other men who engage in sexual activity with men, but do not necessarily self-identify as gay or bisexual.

The assumption that individuals are gay, lesbian, homosexual or heterosexual, which ignores or discriminates against bisexual, transgender or intersex people. Prejudice may exist that infers that monosexism (either being heterosexual or homosexual) is superior to other states of sexual orientation.

People with intersex variations
People who are born with physical, biological or chromosomal sex characteristics that do not fit the typical expectations for male or female bodies.

A term that is used by some people with an alternative sexual and/or gender identity whose identity is not adequately described by existing categories or labels such as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. It is also sometimes used as an umbrella term to include the full range of people with alternative sexual or gender identities in the LGBTI community.

Same-sex attracted
Attraction towards people of one’s own gender. The term has been used particularly in the context of young people whose sense of sexual identity is not fixed, but who do experience sexual feelings towards people of their own sex.

Sexual Orientation, Sexuality and Sexual Identity
Sexual orientation refers to a person’s pattern of physical and/or emotional attraction to others, for example, being primarily attracted to other women (lesbian), other men (gay) or women and men (bisexual). Sexuality is used in this resource to describe a person’s sexual expression, in particular their sexual behaviours. Sexual identity is used to describe a person’s sense of identity derived from their sexual orientation and sexuality within the broader social context.

Sistergirl (or sistagirl) is an Aboriginal English word that is broadly similar in meaning to ‘transgender woman’. Sistergirls often identify as or live as women and in some traditional communities gay men can also be included. Not all Aboriginal transgender or gay people call themselves sistergirls. Sistergirls are distinct from the wider LGBTI community with their own customs and identities.

A person who is making, intends to make, or has made the transition to the gender with which they identify. Some people who transition access hormone therapy and/or surgery to bring their body into line with their gender identity. Note that not all people who have had hormone or surgical treatment identify as transsexual and may identify as female, male, transgender, trans or gender diverse or none of these.

Transgender (sometimes shortened to “trans”) is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of gender identities that differ from the perceived norms aligned to biological sex. Transgender is a term that may be used to describe someone whose gender identity does not match their birth gender, someone who identifies as both genders, neither gender or a third gender. Common terminology includes Transwomen (M to F) referring to those who were born male but identify as female; although many will identify only as female (not transwomen). Transmen refers to those who were born female but whose gender identity is male (F to M); although many will only identify as male and not transmen. Some transgender people seek surgery or take hormones to bring their body into alignment with their gender identity; many do not. Some transgender people change their gender expression to match their affirmed gender, many do not.

Describes both a public act and a process. It involves the permanent and public adoption of the style and presentation of the gender different to that of a person’s birth-assigned sex. It usually includes a change of name, chosen style of address and pronouns, as well as adopting the dress and style of presentation of a person’s innate gender. It may also involve gender reassignment surgery and/or hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Not all who transition undergo medically assisted gender reassignment.  

Fear and hatred of people who are trans or gender diverse.

Women who have sex with women (WSW)
Lesbian and bisexual women as well as other women who engage in sexual activity with other women, but do not necessarily self-identify as lesbian or bisexual.

Reviewed 09 September 2015


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