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What does it mean?

“Denoting or relating to a sexual or gender identity that does not correspond to established ideas of sexuality and gender, especially heterosexual norms.”

Oxford Dictionaries


The term queer is often used as a slur - a word used to attack and insult people. As a result, people may find the word - or words like genderqueer that contain it - to be upsetting.

Through the process of reappropriation some people now use the word positively. Whether to use reclaimed slurs is a personal choice - but if you do use them, be aware that they may offend some people.

Umbrella term

"Queer" is a word that covers a large number of different people - it’s an umbrella term.

Words like this can:

  • help if you’re not sure what specific term describes you
  • help if how you relate to gender is fluid and changes over time
  • be more likely to be understood by the general public
  • be useful for ensuring that a wide range of different people can access resources and support

However, words like this can also:

  • hide how much people using the term actually differ
  • hide how much more discrimination some people using the term receive
  • include people in a term that they don’t like without asking them
  • include people in a term that they don't feel actually describes them

Think carefully before using this word to describe someone or a group of people - they may not wish to be described that way.

Errors and omissions

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