For Teachers

LGBTQ+ Terminology – An Evolution Over Time

The Safe Zone Project Team

When we started the Safe Zone Project one of the first activities that we created was Vocabulary Extravaganza an activity that focused on sharing and understanding many of the many words related to gender and sexuality.  While it was one of the first activities we compiled it was also one of the hardest.  Definitions are tricky enough, and attempting to define identities that are evolving as we sit down to write them, raises the bar even higher.

Over the years (it has been 2.5 years since we first published the site) we have received feedback on many of the words and definitions.  From our in-person workshops, the wonderful folks we connect with online, and many kind and thoughtful emails we receive from those who use our resources, we get some wonderful feedback that helps us continue to improve and evolve our definitions.

A few days ago we had the pleasure of connecting with the folks at The Guardian newspaper who asked us for definitions they could use in their 2015 Gender Dictionary.  We are excited to share that updated* post and its accompanying, newly updated Vocabulary Extravaganza activity!

While The Guardian didn’t include this disclaimer in the article, we think it is important to own that this list is neither comprehensive nor inviolable. With identity terms, trust the person who is using the term and their definition of it, above any dictionary. We don’t claim ownership of these definitions, they are part of the cultural commons, curated by us, but created by the many emails, online discussions, and in-person chats, we have had over the years.  We will continue to hone and adjust this language with the goal of creating definitions resonate with at least 51 out of 100 people who use the words.  We will continue to change the language as the culture changes its meaning. 

Let us know what you think of the definitions, help us evolve our 2016 list, and maybe give a little hat-tip to The Guardian for helping share some of these common and less-than-common words with the world!

Cheers 2015!

Meg & Sam


* If you read The Guardian post prior to Dec 30th, you likely read definitions different from the ones that you will read now.  The editors of The Guardian used an older edition of a lot of the words and graciously updated the post as soon as we pointed it out!