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Religious Tolerance logo

A glossary of sexual terms

Starting with letters Q to Z

Definitions of sexual terms starting with letters Q to Z:

bullet Quad: In a sexual sense: A sexual exchange involving four persons. A sexually active relationship involving four persons.
 
bullet Queer: This most often refers to something that is strange or odd. It is also often used in reference to gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex, and asexual communities. It is also used as a synonym for GLBT and LGBT. Antonym: heteronormative.
 
bullet Rape: A criminal act involving sexual activity without the informed consent of the other person. This may happen because of coercion, or because the other person in not fully capable of granting consent, or is underage. Starting in 2012, rape was legalized in some U.S. states when laws were passed require a physician to insert a transvaginal ultrasound probe in a patient's vagina against her will. The laws require this if she is seeking an abortion early in gestation.
 
bullet RU-486: A commonly used abortifacient medication used to terminate pregnancy non-surgically.
bulletSafe sex: Sexual activity that is completely free of risk for STD. It is non-existent.
 
bullet Safer sex: Sexual activity in which the risk for STD has been greatly reduced to a low level.
 
bulletSex: Two meanings:

bullet The definition of a person as male or female, based on their physical appearance, and/or primary sexual characteristics, and/or sexual chromosome structure and/or their perceived gender. In almost all people, their perceived gender match the other three factors. For a minority, they differ.

bullet To engage in a sexual act. e.g. "to have sex."
 
bullet Sex reassignment therapy: The use of hormones and perhaps sex reassignment surgery to help a transgender person or transsexual change their appearance from the sex that they were identified with at birth to more closely match the opposite sex that they feel they truly are.
 
bullet

Sexual dimorphism: Differences between males and females in a given species. Some examples among humans are:

  • External genitalia -- the presence of a penis/scrotum for a male or vulva/clitorus for a female.
  • The presence or absence of a Y sex chromosome in their body cells. A Y chromosome indicates maleness.
  • Internal brain structure: The "central part of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BSTc)" is of different size and neuron density.
  • Internal reproductive organs (e.g. uterus/womb in females).
  • The presence or absence of a Y sex chromosome in their body cells. A Y chromosome indicates maleness.
  • Sex hormones produced by the body.
  • Height.
  • Brain size.

For the vast majority of adult individuals -- about 99.4% -- all of the above examples of differences between males and females are consistent. They are called "cisgender" persons. Their gender identity -- the gender that they identify themselves as being -- agrees with all the elements of their sexual dimorphism. However, for most transgender persons and transsexuals, this agreement does not hold. They typically identify their gender as opposite to their birth-identified gender which had usually been determined by the appearance of their external genitalia. So, for example, a newborn may be identified as a female and yet have a male internal brain structure that will cause that person to personally identify as a male later in life. They often describe themselves as a male in a female's body or vice-versa.
 

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bullet Serial monogamy: The concept of having multiple sexual partners over a lifetime, in a sequence of committed and sexually exclusive relationships. Many, probably most, adults in North America experience this.
 
bullet Sexual act: This is not a well defined term. Most would define it as including all oral, anal, vaginal, and manual activity which has as its goal of arousing a person. Many teens do not include oral sex as a sexual act. Thus, they might consider themselves to be sexually abstinent, and even a virgin, even though they have engaged in oral sex.
 
bullet Sexual identity: an individual's overall feelings including their sexual orientation (heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual), their genetic gender (male, female, or intersexual), gender role (masculine or feminine), and gender identity (male or female).
 
bullet Sexual orientation:  Some religious and social Christian conservatives define as many as 30 different sexual orientations. The rest of the world has reached a near consensus that there are three sexual orientations: heterosexuality, bisexuality and homosexuality. Sexual orientation is normally largely based on ones feelings of sexual attraction. Among some religious and social conservatives, it is based on ones sexual behavior.
 
bullet Sharing: When used in a sexual sense: two or more couples who perform sexual acts with their own spouses within view of the other couple(s).
 
bullet Sodomite: A derisive term used to refer to sexually active males with a homosexual or bisexual orientation.
 
bulletSodomy:
bullet Historical origin: A resident of Sodom, a town in the Middle East that was allegedly destroyed by God.

bullet Legal usage: One of a list of sexual activities other than penile-vaginal intercourse between a man and woman that is criminalized within a political jurisdiction.

bulletReligious conservatives: Some use the term as a synonym for anal intercourse.
 
bulletSperm: Male reproductive cells. Single: spermatozoon.
 
bullet STI: Acronym for Sexually Transmitted Infection: Any infection transmitted by bacterium, fungus, parasite or virus primarily during sexual contact.
 
bullet STD: Synonym for STI. It is being phased out.
 
bulletStillbirth:  An event in which a fetus after the 24th week of gestation, dies from natural causes and is expelled from the woman's body.
 
bullet Swinging: In a sexual sense, the temporary exchange of sexual partners between two or more committed couples, usually performed under strict behavioral rules.
 
bulletTeleiopilia: A condition in which an adult, usually male, is sexually attracted to both adults and, under some circumstances, to children.
 
bullet Transgender individuals (a.k.a. TG): This word has multiple meanings:
bullet Persons who Identify oneself as experiencing a gender identity that is is in conflict with their genetic or birth-assigned gender. Usually, they identify as being of the gender opposite to their birth-identified gender. A minority identifies as being neither gender, or both genders, or as switching between male and female. Being transgender often causes gender dysphoria -- severe feelings of dissatisfaction, anxiety and restlessness with the mismatch between one's birth-identified gender and one's current gender as the person perceives it to be. Depression, cutting, and even suicidal ideation, attempted suicide, and completed suicide sometimes occurs.
bulletSome consider transgender to be an umbrella term which includes:
bulletPreoperative transsexuals.
bulletPostoperative transsexuals.
bulletNonoperative transsexuals.
bulletTransgenderists: persons living full-time in a gender other than their birth sex.
bulletCross dressers: persons who occasionally present themselves as the opposite sex. (Transvestite is a synonym, but is regarded by many cross dressers as a pejorative term). The vast majority are heterosexual men.
bullet"Mannish" women and "feminine" men whose gender expression is opposite to their sex.
bulletIntersexed persons who are born with genitals that are not typically male or typically female. They are frequently defined as male or female at birth. However, they often develop physically or have a gender identity in opposition to their assigned gender. See above.
 

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bullet Transman, transmen: A transgender person who was identified as female at birth, and now identifies as a male -- a female to male (FTM) transgender person.
 
bullet

Transsexual (a.k.a. transexual, TS, transsexed, transidentity, tranny): This term is gradually going out of use in favor of the term "transgender." "Transsexual" is sometimes used to refer to a transgender person who presents themselves daily according to their present gender identity, or who has undergone gender confirming surgery (a.k.a. sexual reassignment surgery, genital reconstruction surgery, sex realignment surgery, or, simply, a sex change) in order to make their bodies more closely resemble their gender identity.

Another definition is that transsexuals are persons who experience very severe gender dysphoria and feel they can "no longer continue to live their lives in the gender associated with the physical sex they were assigned at birth. " 1

Additional factors:
bullet Many transgender persons consider the terms "trans" and "tranny" to be offensive.
 
bullet Some post-operative transgender persons typically do not refer to themselves as transgender or transsexual. They and their allies regard them as having become either male or female and identify themselves accordingly. Religious and social conservatives generally refer to transgender individuals according to their birth-assigned gender. This includes the use of first names and gender pronouns.
 
bullet

Some prefer the term "transgender" as more appropriate than "transsexual" because gender identity is all about gender, not sex.
 

bulletTransvestic fetishism: A psychiatric condition in which a person -- almost always a male heterosexual -- is significantly distressed by a recurrent sexual arousal due to thoughts or practices of cross dressing.
 
bullet Transvestite: Another term for "cross-dresser." The term transvestite is regarded by many cross dressers as a pejorative term. We recommend that it never be used.
 
bullet Transwoman, transwomen: A transgender person who was identified as male at birth, and now identifies as a female -- a male to female (MTF) transgender person.
 
bulletTriad: In a sexual sense, this refers to sexual activity by three persons, whether in a committed or casual relationship.
 
bullet Virgin: A person who has never engaged in sexual intercourse. This includes about 7% of individuals when they first marry.
 
bullet Yoni: Sanskrit for "sacred space" or "sacred temple." It is sometimes used to refer to a woman's vagina.
 
bullet Zygote: A form of human life (i.e. life containing human DNA) that had originating as a single-cell fertilized ovum, and which has not yet implanted into the inside wall of the uterus.

References used:

  1. "Discrimination Against transgender People In America," The International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy (ICTLEP), at: http://www.qrd.org/. See also: http://web.telecom.cz/

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Copyright © 2003 to 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-DEC-11
Latest update: 2017-JAN-31
Author: B.A. Robinson

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