S - LGBTQIA Healthcare Guild

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Safe Sex, Safer Sex:

Sexual practices that minimize the possible transmission of HIV and other infectious agents. Some publications prefer “safer sex” to denote that no sexual contact is completely safe.

Safe Zone:

A Safe Zone is a setting that fosters an atmosphere of support and safety for LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, quetioning, queer, intersex, and asexual) that is free of homophobia and heterosexism.  Those within a Safe Zone are often considered an ally of sexual and gender minorities who appreciate and affirm LGBTQIA identities.

Same Gender Loving:

A term sometimes used by members of the African- American / Black community to express an alternative sexual orientation without relying on terms and symbols of European descent. The term emerged in the early 1990's with the intention of offering Black women who love women and Black men who love men a voice, a way of identifying and being that resonated with the uniqueness of Black culture in life. (Sometimes abbreviated as ‘SGL’.)


A medical term designating a biological condition: certain combination of gonads, chromosomes, external gender organs, secondary sex characteristics and hormonal balances. Because usually subdivided into ‘male’ and ‘female’, this category does not recognize the existence of intersex bodies.

Sex Change:

Avoid this antiquated term. See gender transition, sex reassignment.

Sexism and Heterosexism:

Sexism: Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.  Heterosexism: discrimination or prejudice against homosexuals on the assumption that heterosexuality is the normal sexual orientation.  Both sexism and heterosexism are interconnected in that they are linked by a common thread: patriarchy. Patriarchy is the system through which male structural power is enacted. Whether intentional or unintentional, the exploitation of women, sexual minorities, and transgender individuals is justified by the oppressor to limit access to resources and to rationalize dehumanizing attitudes, beliefs and behaviors (Adams et al., 2000; Glick & Fiske, 1997).

Sex Identity:

How a person identifies physically: female, male, in between, beyond, or neither.

Sexual Fluidity:

How a person identifies physically: female, male, in between, beyond, or neither.

Sexual and Gender Minority:

Sexual and Gender Minority is used as an encompassing term to identify the social disparity of non-heterosexual identities that conform to dominant society.  Similar to some disabilities, LGBT identities are often considered an invisible minority.  The APA uses the term sexual minority (cf. Blumenfeld, 1992; McCarn & Fassinger, 1996; Ullerstam, 1966) to designate the entire group of individuals who experience significant erotic and romantic attractions to adult members of their own sex, including those who experience attractions to members of both their own and the other sex. This term is used because we recognize that not all sexual minority individuals adopt a lesbian, gay, or bisexual identity.

Sexual Orientation:

Sexual Orientation is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional attraction to another person.  Sexual orientation is fluid and people use a variety of labels to describe their sexual orientation.  Affectional or loving attraction towards another person, but even that excludes asexuality.  The desire for intimate emotional and/or sexual relationships with people of the same gender/sex, another gender/sex, or multiple genders/sexes.

Sexual Preference:

Avoid. Politically charged term implying that sexuality is the result of a conscious choice.


Sexual Realignment Surgery (SRS), Sex Change Surgery, Sex Reassignment Surgery:

A term used by some medical professionals to refer to a group of surgical options that alter a person’s “sex”. In most states, one or multiple surgeries are required to achieve legal recognition of gender variance. Also known as “Gender Confirming Surgery.” The preferred term for the medical process by which transgender people change their physical, sexual characteristics to reflect their gender identity. May include surgery, hormone therapy and/or changes of legal identity. Often used with “surgery.” Synonymous with gender reassignment. Avoid the antiquated term “sex change.”

Sexual expression (expressivity) or sexual behavior:

Sexual expressivity is the creative erotic expression of one’s self through a variety of behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs.  Sexual Behavior (or sexual expression) is different than sexual identity, as behaviors may not align with self-perceived sexual orientation (hence why public health reports behaviors versus identities in using terms like MSM, WSW, down low, etc)


A person’s exploration of sexual acts, sexual orientation, sexual pleasure, and desire.  The components of a person that include their biological sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual practices, etc.

Sexuality Transmitted Infections (STI / STD):

Sexually transmitted diseases (STD), also referred to as sexually transmitted infections (STI) and venereal diseases (VD), are illnesses that have a significant probability of transmission between humans by means of human sexual behavior, including vaginal intercourse, oral sex, and anal sex.

Social Change Agent:

An individual dedicated to righting the wrongs in society, which subsumes the concept of social justice via leadership in social and professional change, and advocating (sponsoring or promoting) such change.

Social Ecologies:

In psychology, ecological systems including a variety of contextual developmental experiences ranging from those that are unique to the individual to those that are more common to the masses, i.e. microsystems, mesosystems, exosystems, and macrosystems.  Therefore social ecologies are often thought of as the interrelationship between the layers of identities that comprise an individual, or the development of individuals in their natural, innate, and contextual environments.  For example, the various ecologies of an individual's identity might include: ethnic, cultural, economic, racial, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and so forth.


An archaic and imprecise prejudicial term sometimes used to refer to penile-anal penetration, also used more generally to refer to all non-penile-vaginal penetration (for example, oral sex). It is often used interchangeably with pederasty and homosexuality. Collective term for various sexual acts that some states have deemed illegal. Not synonymous with homosexuality or sex between gay men. The legal definition of sodomy is different from state to state; in some states, sodomy laws have applied to sexual acts practiced by heterosexuals. The U.S. Supreme Court decided in June 2003 that state sodomy laws targeting private, consensual sex between adult same-sex or opposite-sex partners violate the U.S. Constitution’s due process clause.

Special Rights:

Politically charged term used by opponents of civil rights for the LGBT community. Avoid. “LGBT rights,” “equal rights” or “gay and lesbian rights” are alternatives.

Spiritual Wounding / Reclamation or Religious Abuse:

Religious abuse refers to any abuse that is administered under the guise of religion and can include psychological trauma, harassment or humiliation. Abuse can also include misuse of religion for selfish, secular, or ideological ends such as abuse of a clerical position to perpetrate abuse, such as in the Catholic sex abuse cases.  Reclamation occurs when a person is able to regain a spiritual path after abuse or wounding has occurred.

Sports Reclamation:

Sports reclamation is reclaiming a connection to sports or sports-related culture, when that culture may have initially been wounding or a source of conflict.

Standards of Care:

In tort law, the standard of care is the degree of prudence and caution required of an individual who is under a duty of care.


The Stonewall Inn tavern in New York City’s Greenwich Village was the site of several nights of raucous protests after a police raid on June 28, 1969. Although not the nation’s first gay civil rights demonstration, Stonewall is now regarded as the birth of the modern gay civil rights movement.


This term refers to when a person chooses to be secretive in the public sphere about their gender history, either after transitioning or while successful passing. (Also referred to as ‘going stealth’ or ‘living in stealth mode’.)


A preconceived or oversimplified generalization about an entire group of people without regard for their individual differences. Though often negative, can also be complimentary. Even positive stereotypes can have a negative impact, however, simply because they involve broad generalizations that ignore individual realities.

Straight (binary of gay or straight):

A loaded binary term that implies that one option is correct and the other is deviant (straight or gay).  Straight is classically defined as being “in proper order or condition, conventional or respectable” “live an honest life”, i.e. it has right or wrong connotations.  Gay and Straight terminology is still used for efficiency-sake, however. Heterosexual; describes a person whose sexual and affectional attraction is to someone of the opposite sex. As a noun, use “heterosexual” or “straight person.”

Straight Acting (aka Cisgender):

A term usually applied to gay men who readily pass as heterosexual. The term implies that there is a certain way that gay men should act that is significantly different from heterosexual men. Straight-acting gay men are often looked down upon in the LGBTQ community for seemingly accessing heterosexual privilege.

Substance Use / Abuse:

Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse, is a patterned use of a substance (drug) in which the user consumes the substance in amounts or with methods neither approved nor supervised by medical professionals.  In the DSM, Abuse is often a precursor to substance dependancy. 

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