Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender

LGBT is shorthand for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The “LGB” in this term refers to sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is defined as an often enduring pattern of emotional, romantic and/or sexual attractions of men to women or women to men (heterosexual), of women to women or men to men (homosexual), or by men or women to both sexes (bisexual). It also refers to an individual’s sense of personal and social identity based on those attractions, related behaviors and membership in a community of others who share those attractions and behaviors. Some people who have same-sex attractions or relationships may identify as “queer,” or, for a range of personal, social or political reasons, may choose not to self-identify with these or any labels. 

The “T” in LGBT stands for transgender or gender non-conforming, and is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity or gender expression does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth. Some who do not identify as either male or female prefer the term “genderqueer.” While it is important to understand that sexual orientation and gender identity are not the same thing, they do both reflect differing forms of gender norm transgression and share an intertwined social and political history.

Adapted from “Answers to Your Questions for a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality,” “Answers to your Questions About Transgender People, Gender Identity and Gender Expression” and the APA’s U.S. v. Windsor amicus brief .

Understanding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

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  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns

    The mission of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns Office is to advance psychology as a means of improving the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, as a means of increasing understanding of gender identity and sexual orientation as aspects of human diversity, and as a means of reducing stigma, prejudice, discrimination and violence toward LGBT people.