Skip to main content

In this page

Glossary of terms

The following Glossary of Terms gathers some definitions used in previous Welsh Government publications and legislation (Welsh Government 2019b; Welsh Government 2019c). However, there are some terms that do not have a legal definition. For further information, and for those terms that do not have a legal definition, please check other glossary of terms already available, including the a:gender (2022) page, Stonewall page (2022), the Glossary for the Welsh Government Report on the Census 2021 (Welsh Government 2023), and the ONS’s Census 2021 dictionary (ONS Census 2021). This section should be used to clarify the terminology used in this Action Plan. We acknowledge the importance of understanding how people refer to themselves, and this list of terms does not intend to suggest comprehensive definitions of orientations and identities beyond the purpose of this work.

Ace/Aro, or Asexual/Aromantic

Ace, or “asexual” covers a group of definitions for people whose experience of sexual attraction is either absent or significantly reduced. Aro is an abbreviated term for aromantic, which often refers to someone who have little or no romantic attraction to others.

Conversion practices

Conversion practice is used as an umbrella term to describe interventions of a wide-ranging nature, all of which are premised on the misconception that a person’s sexual orientation and gender, including gender identity and expression, can be changed or suppressed when they do not fall under what other actors in a given setting and time perceive as the desirable norm, in particular when the person is lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, non-binary or gender diverse (henceforth “LGBTQ+”). Such practices are therefore consistently aimed at effecting a change from non-heterosexual to heterosexual and/or from trans or gender diverse to cisgender. Depending on the context, the term is used for a multitude of practices and methods, some of which are clandestine and therefore poorly documented.


A term that is used to refer to whether someone’s internal sense of themselves is female, male or non-binary. People’s gender does not always align with the sex they were assigned at birth (see transgender/trans). This term is sometimes used in the context of gender expression or gender identity.

Gender Diverse

The term "gender-diverse" is used to refer to persons whose gender, including their gender identity and gender expression, is at odds with what is perceived as being the gender norm in a particular context at a particular point in time, including those who do not place themselves in the male/female binary.

Gender Expression

This refers to how an individual chooses to present themselves in society to reflect their gender in conjunction with certain social and cultural norms and differences that societies have about how people behave, express themselves, look or dress. People often find an important sense of identity in these, but they can also perpetuate discrimination, inequalities and harms.

Gender Identity

This term is often used interchangeably with gender and ultimately means the same thing, someone’s internal sense of themselves. The term “gender identity” has been the source of polarising rhetoric around the phrase “identify as…”  and has been rejected by some people and groups who favour the more straightforward “gender”.

Gender Reassignment

This is a term describing transgender people who are legally protected from discrimination. Under Section 7 of the Equality Act 2010. A person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if the person is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person's sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.


It is related to the way in which different types of discrimination (i.e., unfair treatment because of a person's protected characteristics) are connected to and affect each other. Intersectional discrimination, sometimes known as combined discrimination, is where a person is discriminated against because of a particular combination of two or more protected characteristics.

Intersex and VSC

An intersex person is someone who does not fit conventional expectations for male or female development in terms of anatomy, metabolism or genetics. The opposite of intersex is endosex, which is where a person does fit conventional expectations.

Some clinicians use the term differences in sex development (DSD), but this term is unpopular among intersex groups as it is connected to the former meaning of DSD as “disorders of sex development”. The term “disorder” is felt to be pejorative. Similarly, the term intersex is sometimes rejected by some groups and may prefer to refer to “Variations of Sex Characteristics” (VSC) or “variations in reproductive or sex anatomy”.


Refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual/bi, transgender/trans people, queer or questioning. Other letters can be added to the acronym to include other groups, orientations and identities, such as I (intersex) and A (asexual/aromantic). The + (plus) in the acronym is used as a shorthand to include and acknowledge other diverse terms people identify with and use to describe their identities and orientations, including intersex, asexual and aromantic people.


A non-binary person is someone whose gender lies outside the traditional male/female binary idea of gender.

Protected Characteristics

Section 4 of the Equality Act 2010 sets out what are protected characteristics, which are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.


A term used mainly by people who identify with a minority sexual orientation or gender identity, sometimes rejecting other labels of orientations or identities. Although it was used in the past as derogatory term for LGBTQ+ individuals, and some people view the word as a slur, it has now been reclaimed by many LGBTQ+ communities.


attributed to a person on the basis of a range of characteristics including chromosomes, hormone profiles and reproductive anatomy and functions (e.g., genitalia). Some people’s gender does not match with the sex they were assigned at birth (see transgender/trans). Currently in the UK, only 2 sexes can be recorded at birth, which excludes intersex people. In Section 11 of the Equality Act 2010, it says that “in relation to the protected characteristic of sex (a) a reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic is a reference to a man or to a woman”.

Sexual Orientation

This term is defined in Section 12 of the Equality Act 2010. Sexual Orientation means a person’s sexual orientation towards persons of the same sex, persons of the opposite sex or persons of either sex. People might use the terms heterosexual, gay, bisexual/bi, lesbian or straight to describe their sexual orientation.


An umbrella term used to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth. The opposite of transgender is cisgender, which describes people whose gender is the same, and sits comfortably with their sex assigned at birth. Some non-binary people regard themselves as falling under the trans umbrella, but not all.