LGBTQ/SGD Health in Dermatology: Core Terminology

Klint Peebles, MD, FAAD, breaks down the core terminology for LGBTQ/SGD individuals so all patients can feel understood when entering the exam room.

LGBTQ-aligned patients require prior knowledge of socially appropriate terminology, and an understanding of how to describe, characterize, and study the sexual and gender diverse population.

In a presentation at the recent American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting, held March 25 to 29, in Boston, Massachusetts, Klint Peebles, MD, FAAD, broke down the core concepts and framework when discussing this topic.

Firstly, Peebles highlighted the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation.

A person may identify as a woman, man, another gender, or no gender at all. Gender also does not always align with a person’s sex assigned at birth. Common gender identifiers used include man, woman, transgender, and nonbinary.

Diving further into gender terminology, Peebles discussed the definition of cisgender, transgender, gender diverse, and nonbinary.

An individual whose gender identity and sex assigned at birth align are considered cisgender. Transgender is a word individuals use when their gender identity and sex assigned at birth do not align. Gender diverse describes individuals whose gender identity falls outside of traditional structure based on sex assigned at birth. This could include transgender individuals, those who identify as nonbinary, among other identities, like genderfluid or genderqueer. Lastly, nonbinary is a term used for those whose gender falls outside of traditional structures. This individual could identify as neither a woman or man, both a woman and a man, or fluctuate.

Sexual orientation is how a person defines physical, emotional, romantic, and behavioral attachments to other people.

Sexual orientation terms can include:

  • Heterosexual/Straight
  • Gay
  • Lesbian
  • Bisexual
  • Queer
  • Asexual
  • Pansexual

Peebles noted that the term homosexual has largely fallen away from common speak and should not be used unless an individual explicitly embraces the term.

Peebles continued, highlighting that sex development is the process by which biological sex characteristics emerge; this would include the phrase “sex assigned at birth”. Sexes assigned at birth are most often female or male, however, the term intersex has historically been used to describe a person with a diversity of sex characteristics which include reproductive organs, genitals, or other sexual anatomy that does not conform to the prescribed definition of female or male. A newer and more favored term for these individuals, according to Peebles, is variation in sex characteristics. Peebles also noted that this is not the same as transgender because sex development is different from gender identity.

Reference:

Peeples JK, Dommasch ED, Mansh MD, et al. LGBTQ/SGM Health in Dermatology: Essentials and Updates. Presented at: 2022 American Academy Dermatology Association Annual Meeting; March 25-29, 2022; Boston, MA.