Inclusive Faith
Please note, it is important to be aware that terms are very personal for people. If you’re not sure, there is no harm or shame in asking people what terms they prefer to use or are comfortable with.

Affirming church

ABBI (Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International) defines an affirming church as one that says to an LGBT+ person, “You and your partner are welcome here. Be a part of our community. What gifts do you bring to serve God and our church?”

In relation to the journey from being unwelcoming to LGBT+ affirming:

“This journey will be one of a number of years for a church. No one moves from being anti-gay to LGBT-affirming overnight. This is even more true for a church or denomination. It’s like a giant ocean cargo vessel changing course. The journey cannot be taken without involvement with LGBT people. No conversation about us without us.”


Stonewall says: It’s time for proud straight allies everywhere to speak out about how we can all help improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people everywhere. To be an LGBT ally is easy. If you agree in equality and fair treatment in society of people who identify as LGBT then already you are an ally. But really, as nice and as comfortable as it may be for you to sit at home and wish and will the world to be a better, fairer, more inclusive place, there is much more you can do than simply lend your passive support to LGBT causes.

“Silent allies aren’t of much use” – said in a public meeting in Belfast by a member of the LGBT+ Christian community who has worked all his life for LGBT+ inclusion in the church in Ireland.


A sexuality characterised by lack of sexual attraction or lack of a desire for partnered sexuality. Some asexual people may nonetheless value romantic relationships.


The fear, hatred or intolerance of people who are bisexual.

Bisexual (Bi)

A person who is physically, romantically and emotionally attracted to their own and other genders.


A term used to describe people who, for the most part, identify as the gender they were assigned at birth.

Coming Out

The process of telling someone about your sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It is not a one-time event as an individual must come out countless times over the course of their lifetime.


A word used to describe someone of either gender who is physically, romantically and emotionally attracted to someone of the same gender. It is most often used in respect of men who are attracted to men, but is also the term of choice for some women who are attracted to women.

Gender Expression

Refers to how someone expresses their gender. This may refer to how an individual dresses, their general appearance, the way they speak, and/or the way they carry themselves.

Gender Fluid

When someone is gender fluid it means that they do not have a fixed gender identity. They have a gender identity which can change daily, weekly, monthly – or less regularly.

Gender Identity

An individual may have a gender identity which is different to or the same as their biological sex. Gender identity is a personal, deeply felt sense of one’s own gender. It is important to note that an individual’s gender identity is completely separate from their sexual orientation. Everyone has a gender identity, regardless of whether someone is transgender or otherwise.

Gender Neutral

A person who is physically, romantically and emotionally attracted to their own and other genders.

Gender Non-Conforming

A person who has, or is perceived to have, gender characteristics that do not conform to traditional or societal expectations.

Gender Role

A societal expectation of how an individual should act, think and/or feel based upon their biological sex.


A viewpoint or approach which assumes heterosexuality as the default, ‘normal’ or preferred sexual orientation, as opposed to one of many possibilities.


People whose physical, romantic and emotional attraction is to people of the opposite sex (also known as ‘straight’).


People whose physical, romantic and emotional attraction is to people of the same sex (see also ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’). ‘Homosexual’ might be considered a more medical term and the term ‘gay’ is now more generally used.


The fear, hatred or intolerance of people who are lesbian, gay, bi or pan.

Inclusive Church

Inclusive Church (the organisation) gives this definition: a church which celebrates and affirms every person and does not discriminate.


People who naturally (without medical intervention) develop primary and/or secondary sex characteristics that do not fit neatly into society’s definitions of male or female.


A woman or girl whose physical, romantic and emotional attraction is to other women or girls. Some women attracted to other women prefer to identify as gay women.


An acronym which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning. This term acts as an umbrella term for the entirety of the community or subsection of the population whose sexual orientation is not heterosexual and/or whose gender does not align with their sex assigned at birth. There are many different versions of this acronym, which may be shorter or longer, but all of them attempt to capture the natural diversity of sexuality and gender.


A gender identity which does not fall into the traditional gender binary of ‘male’ and ‘female’. Non-binary is an umbrella term and can describe a wide range of identities and experiences.


The act of publicly declaring (sometimes based on rumour and/or speculation, but often based on disclosures made) or revealing another person’s sexual orientation or gender identity without that person’s consent. Outing is a wrong and harmful act that can traumatise the person being outed and/or put them in danger.


When someone is ‘out’ their sexual orientation and/or gender identity is not secret and is disclosed by the individual themselves. People may be out to one social group but not to others.

Pansexual (Pan)

Not limited in sexual orientation with regard to biological sex, gender or gender identity.


Pronouns are how we refer to someone in the third person, eg ‘he’, ‘she’ or ‘they’. If someone is transgender then their gender identity is different to the sex assigned at birth, so an individual may choose to be referred to using different pronouns to that of their legal biological sex. If you are unsure what pronouns someone prefers, it’s much better to ask than to try to guess. Pronouns are usually she/her, he/him, they/them but other options are available eg. zee/zen.


A unifying term particularly with younger generations where they do not need or want to use a specific term with regards to their sexual orientation and or gender identity. For others it is still a derogatory term.


The process of considering or exploring one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Sex Assigned at Birth

When a baby is born the sex of male or female is assigned to it based primarily on the appearance of their genitalia. A child can also be intersex.

Sexual Orientation

The term used to describe an individual’s physical, romantic, sexual and emotional attraction to members of the same and/or opposite sex, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual (‘straight’) orientations.


People whose physical, romantic and emotional attraction is to people of the opposite sex (also known as ‘heterosexual’).

Trans or Transgender

An umbrella term for people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. Someone who was assigned male at birth may identify as female and therefore would be considered transgender. Note it does not have anything to do with alterations made to bodies, it relates to gender identity.


Transitioning is a process of changing one’s birth sex to more accurately align with one’s gender identity. It is a complex process which occurs over a long period of time. Transition can include some or all of the following personal, legal and medical changes: telling one’s family; changing one’s name and/or sex on legal documents; changing pronouns; hormone treatment; surgery, etc.

It’s not necessary to transition in order to identify as trans. Transition is a personal matter. While someone may choose to disclose some of their transition history, it’s normally considered rude and inappropriate to ask without being invited to do so.


The fear, hatred or intolerance of people who are transgender.

Thank you to Cara Friend: Most, but not all, of these definitions are from the Cara-Friend glossary (in Cara-Friend Parents & Carers Resource, edited 2021). For a longer list of terms, see: LGBTQ+ terms (