Main Side Navigation


LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual/Aromantic. The “+” represents the many other identities that may be part of the community such as pansexual, agender, non-binary, gender fluid, etc., as well as allies of the community. On first reference, explain what LGBTQIA+ stands for and use the abbreviation on subsequent mentions. That said, if a source in your content prefers to be referred to or identified using another term or abbreviation, please abide by their preference. For example, if someone describes themselves as a lesbian, don’t describe them as part of the LQBTQIA+ community. Use lesbian.


Gender pronouns can be used in place of a person’s name. Just as it is important to spell and pronounce a person’s name correctly, it is also important to use the correct pronouns to refer to a person in writing and/or in conversation. Do not assume what someone’s pronouns are by looking at them. Similarly, don’t assume that pronouns tell you how a person identifies in terms of gender; pronouns simply indicate how that person wants to be referred to. Correctly using someone’s pronouns is one of the most basic ways to show respect for their gender identity. If you are not sure what someone’s pronouns are, you can ask them while sharing your own, or simply use their name until they tell you their pronouns.

Find more information on pronouns at the University of Utah LGBT Center.


It's best to not assume that a person wants to be referred to by their full legal name. Ask people what name you should refer to them by in the interview. Giving specific context of where the name will be used allows individuals to assess their own needs and privacy for the situation.

If someone asks to be referred to by a chosen name that is different than their legal name, always use their chosen name. Never ask about or use a person’s dead name (name used prior to using a chosen name).



Often, queer can be used as an umbrella term for LGBTQIA+. Queer is also used in academic circles (i.e. "queer studies") and a range of post-structuralist theories known as "queer theory." Other variants, such as "quare theory," consider the intersection of identities such as race. Queer is very common in activist, nonprofit, and journalist spaces, however, in the past it has been considered a slur. Be mindful of your audience if and when you use the word queer.


Folx is a variation of “folks” and is used to explicitly signal the inclusion of groups who are commonly marginalized. The "x" not only represents the sound of the word’s plural, but it also uses the symbolism of the letter X to represent “variable” or “other.”

Interview Guidelines

When preparing questions, consider the following:

  • Why do I want to know this information?
  • Would I feel comfortable if someone asked these questions of me?
  • Would I ask this question of a non-LGBTQIA+ person in a similar situation?

Writing Guidelines

  • Avoid language that puts more value on being or appearing cisgender or that carries judgment or biases about how public a person is about being LGBTQIA+.
  • Recognize that there are more than two genders. Avoid the language of gender opposites. (i.e. instead of “opposite gender” use a “different gender”)
  • Embrace the fact that language can evolve quickly.
  • Sex and gender are not the same things. Sex refers to biological attributes. Gender refers to a person’s role in society, behavior, or identity.
  • If you're covering research or new data, don't refer to the findings as relevant to "the gay or LGBTQIA+ community" if the information only relates to, say, gay men.
Instead of …
Say …
not out
openly gay
gay community
LGBTQIA+ community
gay or lesbian
sexual preference
sexual orientation
sex reassignment surgery
gender affirming surgery
biologically male/female
assigned male/female at birth

University of Utah Resources

LGBT Resource Center empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual/aromantic (LGBTQIA+) students to grow as leaders and learners by supporting students in navigating university systems, exploring their identities, finding community, and developing as leaders with a social justice lens.

Transgender Health Program at U of U Health brings quality healthcare to trans adults and teens from all walks of life. They provide a safe, trans-affirmative environment where patients can comfortably access the full range of health services they need.

The Office of Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Title IX (OEO/AA) is dedicated to providing a fair and equitable environment for all to pursue their academic and professional endeavors and to equally access university programs.

Other Resources

GLAAD Media Reference Guide
The Association of LGBTQ Journalists’ (NLGJA) English language style book on LGBTQ terminology
NLGJA Spanish language style book on LGBTQ terminology
NLGJA Tip Sheet on LGBT Coverage
Trans Journalist Association’s Style Guide