Ever wonder what terms like Two-Spirit, queer, cisgender, 2S/LGBTQIA+ mean, or how to explain them to kids? 

Here is our handy vocabulary page:

What is Two-Spirit?

Two-Spirit is a place holder term, used for Indigenous community organizing. Unlike many of the words in the queer lexicon, Two-Spirit is less about an individual identity and more about the roles and responsibilities a Native person has within the context of Native communities. Indigenous people of Turtle Island with sexual orientations/gender identities other than heterosexual and/or cisgender may refer to themselves as Two-Spirit.


Learn more about Two-Spirit here and here 

What does Queer mean?

Everyone who isn't 100% heterosexual AND cisgender.

What is cisgender?

When the sex you were assigned at birth matches how you feel about yourself and how you express your gender in the world. 


Two-Spirit people were here first, so we put 2S first. Also, not all Two-Spirit people identify with the colonizer language/concepts of LGBTQIA so we use a slash between those.

Learn more here

What does Transgender mean?

Anyone who's gender identity and/or gender expression is different than what they were assigned at birth.  In other words, anyone who radically transgresses rigid gender norms. 

Transgender is an umbrella term that includes many genders, such as genderqueer, agender, drag queen/king, a person who medically transitions, trans woman, trans man, bigender, gender-fluid, etc. 

What is Non-Binary?

Non-Binary is an umbrella term for anyone who does not neatly fit into the "man/woman" gender binary system. This includes people who don't have a gender, people with more than one gender, people whose gender is fluid, and people whose gender is not exclusively man/woman. Non-binary is not one gender; it includes many genders outside the binary.

While Non-Binary is often used to describe a group of genders under the larger Transgender umbrella, some Non-Binary people define Transgender in ways that do not include themselves. Historically, Transgender has included Non-Binary genders (if you look at the Trans Flag, the white stripe in the middle is for Non-Binary genders), but language changes over time and this is an area where language is currently evolving.

What is the IA+?

I is for Intersex, or DSD (Differences in Sex Development), as in people who biologically don't neatly fit in the female/male binary (approximately 2% of the population).

Learn more here

A is for Asexual/Aromantic, as in people who's orientation is defined by a lack of sexual or romantic feeling. 

Learn more here

The + is for everyone who isn't already listed who isn't 100% heterosexual and cisgender. Examples include pansexual, non-binary, people who don't want to be labeled, etc.

What is SO/GI/E?

An inclusive term for sexual orientation/gender identity/gender expression. It includes all of us, including people who are cishet (cisgender and heterosexual). 

Yeah, but how the heck do I talk about this with kids?!

Check out this wonderful resource from Welcoming Schools:

WS_LGBTQ_Definitions_for_Students (1).pdf

Below are more vocabulary terms and definitions for people who want to go even deeper. We didn't make this list (if we did, we would have put the 2S  first because Two-Spirit people were here first).