Violet’s internal guide to inclusive language: Part 1

Violet’s internal guide to inclusive language: Part 1

How we refer to our gender & sexuality matters. 

[Last updated: June 2023] 

Major terms added or adjusted:

Asexual, attraction, bisexual, gay, gender, gender identity, intersex, lesbian, nonbinary, recorded sex, TGE.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” 

We’ve all heard this adage, but we also all know that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Words actually do carry weight. The language we use has a tremendous impact on not only the folks we use it with, but also on our own internal perspective and bias. 

As such, it’s vitally important to use inclusive and affirming language, but as culture and technology evolve exponentially fast, so does language.

To stay consistent, Violet uses an internal guide that we maintain out of consensus as a company and with external thought partners

During Pride month, we want to be transparent and offer up the first part of our guide as it relates to sexuality- and gender-related terms. We will continue publishing more parts of our guide throughout the year. 

Remember: Every term or word comes nuanced with history, context, and personal preference. If you aren’t sure how someone may identify or what language may be appropriate, just ask! The primary thing to remember is, there’s always room for growth and learning. Cultural competence is not static; it is a lifelong journey. 

Violet’s inclusive language guide: Part 1


Asexuality is a term used for people who do not experience sexual attraction to other individuals of any gender. Asexuality (also known as ace) is a sexual orientation, not a form of celibacy or a medical condition. Some asexual people may choose to have sex while others may not.

There are different labels within the spectrum of asexuality, including gray-ace/graysexual and demisexual, and different ways people refer to their sexuality within their relationships, including sex positive, sex averse, and sex neutral. In addition, the asexuality spectrum may include aromanticism (or Aro), which is a term for individuals who do not experience romantic attraction to other individuals of any gender.

[Added June 2023]


Attraction refers to the different ways that someone might have interest in another individual, including sexual attraction and romantic attraction. Sexual attraction is attraction that makes people desire sexual contact or shows sexual interest in another person(s). Romantic attraction is attraction that makes people desire romantic contact or interaction with another person or persons. As an example, someone might identify as asexual therefore do not have sexual attraction to others, but will have romantic attraction. A person may identify as being hetero-romantic, which means they are romantically attracted to people of a different gender.

[Added June 2023]


Bisexual is the general preferred term for individuals who are sexually attracted to people of binary and/or all different genders. Bisexuality has many different definitions, and people who are bisexual might define their identities in different ways, while some people identify as pansexual, omnisexual, polysexual, omnisexual, fluid, or queer.

[Added June 2023]


Gay is the general preferred term for men (including cisgender or transgender) who are attracted to the same gender. Gay may be used to describe individuals other than men who are attracted to the same gender, but Gay should not be used as an umbrella term to refer to all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people, the term LGBTQIA+ is more accurate and inclusive.

[Added June 2023]

Gender-affirming care

Refers to non-medical and medical procedures that may be included in part of someone’s transition. When referring specifically to specific procedures, other relevant terms include gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT), and gender-affirming surgery.

Violet does not use terms like “sex change operation,” “gender reassignment/realignment surgery” (gender is not changed due to surgery), “gender confirmation/confirming surgery” (genitalia do not confirm gender), and “sex reassignment/realignment surgery” (as it insinuates a single surgery is required to transition along with sex being an ambiguous and incorrect term).

[Updated June 2023]

Gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT)

Refers to hormone therapy treatment used to affirm one’s gender. Can be used as part of affirming care across a spectrum of identities including transmasculine, transfeminine and non-binary.

Violet stays away from using the term hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to refer to gender-affirming care.

[Updated June 2023]

Gender expression

Gender expression refers to the external appearances of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut, or voice. This may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine. A person’s chosen name and pronouns (eg. he, she, they, ze) are also common ways of expressing gender.

[Added June 2023]

Gender identity

One’s internal, personal sense of their own gender. Since gender is a social construct, an individual may have a self perception of their gender that is different or the same as their assigned gender or sex recorded at birth. Gender identity is an internalized realization of one’s gender and may not be manifested in their outward appearance (gender expression) or their place in society (gender role). It is important to note that an individual’s gender identity is completely separate from their sexual orientation or sexual preference. Some choose to use the term “gender” instead of “gender identity” to eliminate using different terms for cisgender and transgender individuals.

[Updated June 2023]


A term coined by law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw in the 1980s to describe the way that multiple systems of oppression interact in the lives of those with multiple identities.  Intersectionality looks at the relationships between multiple identities and allows us to analyze social problems more fully, shape more effective interventions, and promote more inclusive advocacy amongst communities.


Intersex is a term used to describe the experience of naturally developing primary or secondary sex characteristics that do not fit neatly into society’s definitions of the gender binary. 

Intersex is an umbrella term and there are around 20+ (that we know of) variations of intersex experiences that are included in this umbrella term. Some intersex people may have external sex organs that fall outside of the male/female gender binary, some individuals may have different chromosomes that are different than XX or XY, and others may have internal organs and hormones that differ from their external genitalia.

[Updated June 2023]


Lesbian is the general preferred term for women who are attracted to the same gender.  Some women prefer to be called gay rather than lesbian, so whenever possible, ask which term is preferred. In addition, some Nonbinary individuals may identify as lesbians, and the identity may include attraction to Nonbinary genders.

[Added June 2023]


This acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, and more. It’s important to note that Violet’s benchmarking framework addresses LGBQ and TGNC communities separately, however, often in blog posts or more, we use LGBTQIA+ as an umbrella term. 

Other appropriate terms: LGBQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer), LGBTQ (Including Transgender), LGBTQIA2+ (including two-spirit), Queer (for some, this term might invoke historically negative associations), GSM (Gender and Sexual Minorities)


An umbrella term for gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine. Gender non-conforming, genderqueer, gender variant, gender-fluid are other terms used to describe someone who does not follow binary gender norms and may experience their gender as a mixture between male, female, both, neither or something else entirely.

[Added June 2023]


This acronym stands for Queer and Transgender People of Color. Violet chooses to use this umbrella term when the context needs to highlight race as a factor in the LGBTQIA+ community. 


Queer or queerness is an umbrella term that can include orientation, gender identity, and community. Originally a pejorative term for gay, now being reclaimed by some members of the LGBTQIA+ community as a self-affirming umbrella term. It is recommended that individuals who are not self-identified as queer avoid using the labels for others, unless that is those individuals’ preferred self-identifiers.

[Added June 2023]

Recorded sex

Recorded sex at birth, sometimes known as gender assignment, sex assignment, or assigned sex, is the sex/gender one is considered to be prior to (i.e. obstetric ultrasonography) or at the time of birth based on a cursory examination of external genitalia. 

For intersex individuals, who may be chromosomally or visually outside of the male/female gender binary, a binary sex is often recorded at birth.

[Updated June 2023] We’ve updated this from assigned sex to recorded sex to further clarify the occurrence at birth. A sex cannot be assigned, rather it is recorded on birth certificates at time of birth. 


A medically-constructed categorization. Sex is often assigned based on the appearance of the genitalia, either in ultrasound or at birth.

Sexual orientation

The nature of an individual’s physical, romantic, emotional and/or spiritual attraction to another person. Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same. Transgender and gender-variant people may identify with any sexual orientation, and their sexual orientation may or may not change before, during or after gender transition.


This acronym stands for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. 

Other appropriate terms: SOGIE (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Expression), SOGI/E (same as prior), and SOGIESC (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Expression, Sexual Characteristics)


Transgender is an umbrella term for people who experience and/or express their gender identity different from what most people expect, or individuals whose gender identity is different from the sex recorded at birth. Transgender individuals may have a binary gender identity (e.g. transgender man) or non-binary identity (e.g. genderfluid).

[Added June 2023]


Newer acronym that stands for Transgender and Gender Expansive. While this can be considered a wider, less stigmatizing umbrella term, it is not yet common practice to use in clinical or academic settings.

Other appropriate acronyms: GNC, TGNC (Transgender and Non-Conforming), Transgender, Trans, TGNB (Transgender and Nonbinary).

[Added June 2023]


This acronym stands for Transgender and Non-Conforming. These communities are specifically centered around gender, gender identity, and gender representation. In health care, it’s important to note that care for these communities look very different and have very specific needs. 

Other appropriate acronyms: GNC, TGE (Trans and Gender Expansive), Transgender, Trans

Notes on this guide: 

  1. This guide is not—and will never be—the ultimate authority on terms or language.
  2. This guide was created with input from queer and/or BIPOC individuals.
  3. This guide is not an exhaustive list; we use this internally to create consistency when writing articles or education. 
  4. This guide is not meant to be a dictionary; there will be many terms here that do not include a definition.
  5. We’re always learning and evolving as culture grows, as such this guide will consistently be evolving.

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