Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
A syndrome characterized by a variety of disorders and pathological findings (such as low helper T-cell (T4) count, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, and Kaposi’s sarcoma) associated with an advanced stage of HIV infection. The immune system is weakened, thus allowing for the spread of unusual microorganisms normally controlled by the immune system (opportunistic infections).
aversion therapy
Any number of different behavior modification techniques, largely relying on operant conditioning, to diminish a behavior (for example, homoerotic arousal) by associating it with discomfort. This might be electrical shock, drug induced nausea, or an unpleasant thought.
A term first used in the nineteenth century to refer to the possession of both male and female anatomical or psychological traits, especially during embryological development. In the twentieth century, more commonly refers to erotic attraction to both males and females.
classical conditioning
A technique for establishing a conditioned reflex whereby a stimulus not usually linked with a particular response is associated with a stimulus that automatically evokes the response by repeatedly presenting the two stimuli together (for example, inducing salivation in a dog solely by ringing a bell by repeatedly associating the ringing with food presentation.)
see: classical conditioning and operant conditioning
The philosophical position that a phenomenon is the result of sociological, cultural, or historical forces. In the case of homosexuality, the position that “sexual orientation” is not biologically fixed, but a historical phenomenon of the past two centuries in Europe and America.
covert sensitization
A behavior modification technique of associating employing imagined target stimuli with imagined aversive thoughts (for example, associating homoerotic mental images with nausea).
Darwinism or Darwinian evolution
Refers to British naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-1882). The theory that species evolve over time through a process of natural selection. It is often contrasted with Lamarkism (or inheritance of acquired traits), although Darwin also believed in the hereditary transmission of acquired traits.
In nineteenth-century medicine, the theory that diseases and acquired ills could be transmitted from one generation to the next, thereby leading to a gradual decline in hereditary fitness and eventual termination of a family line.
dementia praecox
A psychiatric diagnosis coined by German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin (1865-1926). It referred to a group of illnesses beginning with disturbed behavior and cognition in adolescence and progressing to dementia.
The philosophical position that a phenomenon or trait is not freely chosen but fixed by other forces: these may be biological (for example, genetic or hormonal), sociological, or familial (for example, psychoanalytic models of parental molding of the infantile psyche).
Disorders of Sex Development (DSD)
Congenital anomalies of the sex chromosomes, the gonads, the reproductive ducts, and the genitalia. A new term for "intersex."
electroconvulsive therapy
Psychotherapeutic technique whereby electric current is applied to the head to induce a tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizure.
Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA)
A method for identifying the presence of antibodies to HIV in body fluids. It may be up to six months after exposure to HIV before antibody levels are detectable by ELISA.
The philosophical position that a phenomenon is the same throughout time and in different cultures. In the case of homosexuality, the belief that sexual orientation is a fixed and enduring feature of humans that is virtually identical throughout history.
A term that emerged in the 1950s to refer to the psychological and sociological traits distinguishing men from women. Compare to sex.
gender identity
A term developed in the 1950s to refer to a person’s self-identification as male or female. Compare with gender role.
gender role
A term developed in the 1950s to refer to the behaviors and dress that distinguish a person as male or female. Originally, this also included the sex of erotic partners, assuming heterosexuality to be the norm. Compare with gender identity.
The genetic constitution of an individual that codes for a particular trait. Compare with phenotype.
From the Greek god Hermaphroditos, who possessed ideal male and female qualities. Refers to animals that possess both male and female gonads (so called, “true hermaphrodites”) or ambiguous genitals (“pseudo-hermaphrodites”). Psychosexual hermaphroditism or sexual inversion, in the nineteenth century, referred to individuals with same-sex erotic attraction, who were presumed to have neurological or hormonal physiology of the opposite sex.
A term first used in the late nineteenth century to describe the erotic attraction to both males and females (what we currently call bisexual). It was later applied to erotic attraction to people of the opposite sex.
From the Latin homo, man, or Greek omos, same, and philos, friend. A term used in the 1940s and 1950s to refer to same-sex attraction. It was seen as more positive and less stigmatizing than the medical term homosexual.
A term first used in print in German in 1869 and in English in 1892 to refer to sexual attraction to a person of the same sex. Originally, it was believed that the homosexual suffered from psychological gender inversion that led to erotic attraction to a “normal,” non-homosexual person.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
The virus widely believed to be the causative agent of AIDS. This name was adopted in 1986 by consensus for a virus previous identified as LAV (Lymphadenopathy-Associated Virus) and HTLV III (Human T-Lymphotropic Virus Type III).
In classical medical teachings, these were four fluids that circulated in the body: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile (melancholia). These, in turn, were composed of paired combinations of the four elemental properties: heat, cold, dryness, and humidity. All tissues and organs were composed of combinations of the four humors. Illness was believed to be a result of an excess or imbalance of the humors (dyscrasia). Humoral therapy was aimed at correcting this imbalance by methods such as bleeding or purging, heating or chilling.
In classical Greek medicine, a disorder of a wandering womb (Gk., hystera) that caused suffocation and other pain symptoms. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it referred to a neuropsychiatric disorder, predominantly of women, with unexplained pain complaints, emotional instability, dissociation, and dramatic behaviors. No longer in official psychiatric usage.
A term used at the turn of the twentieth century in reference to psychosexual hermaphroditism or inversion. Dr. Richard Goldschmidt used it in 1917 in discussing the endocrinology of hermaphroditism. In current usage, it refers to diverse manifestations of ambiguous or atypical genitals.
The nineteenth-century theory that the sex of the brain or psyche could be the opposite of that of the genitals, that is, psychosexual hermaphroditism. Thus the inverted woman had a masculine mind and the male invert was effeminate. Traits of inversion were supposedly found not only in erotic attraction, but also temperament, behavior, career choice, and even anatomic structure.
A woman erotically attracted to women. The term is derived from Lesbos, the Greek island that was the birthplace of the poet Sappho (7th cent. BC).
From the Greek nosos, disease. The naming and classification of diseases.
operant conditioning
A conditioning technique that relies on reinforcement: a behavior is rewarded (or punished) each time it occurs in order to increase (or decrease) its frequency. For example, giving a dog a biscuit every time it performs a trick on command.
In psychiatry, a disorder were there is the delusional belief of being persecuted or followed. It can be a symptom of schizophrenia or of a less debilitating personality disorder.
From the Greek pais, boy, and erastes, lover. Historically refers to sexual relations with adolescent boys, but sometimes used interchangeably with sodomy and homosexuality.
In medicine, a term used most generally to refer to any serious deviation or abnormality of behavior or function. Sexual perversion referred to any aberrant sexual practice that was not penile-vaginal sex. The term was used from the nineteenth century until the 1970s, particularly in psychoanalytic writings. Now it is rarely used in medical writing.
An observable trait of an individual that is determined by genes and by the environment. Also see genotype.
The evolutionary or racial history of a species or organism.
A philosophy developed by Auguste Comte (1798-1857) who believed that in the most advanced stage of human civilization all phenomena would be explained through the logical sequence of natural laws. More generally, refers to a philosophical position that values empirically derived scientific knowledge over theological or metaphysical knowledge.
psychosexual hermaphroditism
See inversion.
A severe mental disorder where there is disturbed perception of reality. This may include hallucinations and delusions.
Literally, unconventional or eccentric. A slang term for homosexual. A term adopted in the 1990s by younger gays and lesbians and by academics who favored radical politics or a fluid conception of sexual identity.
queer theory
In recent years, the work of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)--and some heterosexual--scholars has increasingly come to be grouped under the umbrella term queer theory. Drawing upon the earlier work of feminists and gay and lesbian studies, queer theory challenges implicit assumptions that underlie conventional, binary categories like "masculinity/femininity," or "homosexuality/heterosexuality." Queer theorists usually seek to challenge cultural norms, seen as oppressive, by "deconstructing" the implicit assumptions upon which such norms are based. Queer theorists' writings draw attention to the ways in which identities (including but not limited to sexual identities) can be socially constructed through history, language and custom, usually arguing that these identities do not arise from biological (essentialist) factors.
Refers to love or sex between women. Alludes to the Greek poetess Sappho (7th cent. BC), who was born on the isle of Lesbos.
A psychiatric diagnosis first coined by Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler (1857-1939) in 1911. He identified four characteristic findings: loose mental associations, disturbed affect, ambivalence, and autism. It was associated with the earlier diagnosis of dementia praecox. According to psychoanalytic theory, schizophrenia was the result of disturbed parent-child dynamics and possibly repressed homosexuality. The current psychiatric belief is that it is a brain disorder with a hereditary component.
The biological and anatomical attributes of male and female. Compare with gender.
sexual identity
One's subjective experience of one's sexual orientation. While sexual orientation is usually innate, sexual identities develop over time and in a cultural context. For example, calling oneself "gay" or "lesbian" is a subjective affirmation of one's homosexual orientation.
sexual inversion
see inversion.
sexual orientation
Whether a person’s erotic interests are directed towards the same sex or the opposite sex.
sexual perversion
See perversion.
shock therapy
A colloquial term used to refer to convulsive therapy (the use of electrical current or drugs to induce seizures), drug-induced insulin shock, or electrical aversion therapy.
An imprecise term sometimes used to refer to penile-anal penetration, also used more generally to refer to all non-penile-vaginal penetration (for example, oral sex). It is often used interchangeably with pederasty and homosexuality.
A term that emerged in the 1980s to refer to a broad spectrum of cross-gendered behavior and identification, including transsexualism and transvestism. It tends to be the preferred term for political activism and community organizing.
A term coined by Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1934) in 1923 in reference to “intersexuals.” Dr. David O. Cauldwell used it in 1949 in describing a case of severe gender dysphoria (dissatisfaction with anatomical sex). Currently, it refers to the phenomenon of cross-gender identification and gender dysphoria. Since the 1950s, may chose to undergo hormonal and surgical sex reassignment.
transvestism or transvestitism
The practice of dressing in clothes commonly worn by people of the opposite sex. The term “transvestite” was first introduced into the medical literature in 1910 by Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1934). Sometimes it refers to transvestic fetishism for erotic stimulation. It is also used in reference to simple cross-dressing without erotic aims.
The practice of two women rubbing their genitals, or specifically their clitorises, together. Those who practice this were called tribades.
A term used in the late nineteenth century to refer to same-sex erotic attraction.
Related to the Greek god Uranus. A term employed by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-1895) in reference to Plato’s Symposium, where Pausanias praises the elder, heavenly Aphrodite, daughter of Uranus. Those who are inspired by her are attracted to men. Ulrichs would therefore refer to “man-manly love” as “Uranian love.”
A term coined by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs in 1864 to refer to men whose sexual drive was directed to men-a phenomenon he called Uranian love. He argued this came about because of an innate feminine nature.