Skip to Main Content

LGBTQIA+ Health Resources

Use this guide to help research health topics related to the LGBTQIA+ Community.

Queering Classification

This video from CSUDH Library does a great job of explaining how classification systems in our catalogs and databases can be discriminatory and favor a dominant narrative. While they discuss Library of Congress headings and HSLIC doesn't use this classification system, the information is still accurate for all systems.

Keep in Mind

"...the trouble with library classification and cataloging systems in the project of fixity itself: as we attempt to contain entire fields of knowledge or ways of being in accordance with universalizing systems and structures, we invariably cannot account for knowledges or ways of being that are excess to and discursively produced by those systems. From a queer perspective, critiques of LCC [ Library of Congress Classification] and LCSH [Library of Congress Subject Headings] that seek to correct them concede the terms of the knowledge organization project: that a universalizing system of organization and naming is possible and desirable."

-Drabinski, E. (2013). Queering the Catalog: Queer Theory and the Politics of Correction. The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy, 83(2), 94-111. doi:10.1086/669547

Challenging Our Terminology

icon of a chat with a question and response to convey challenging and changing terminology

Terminology changes over time, and some disciplines reflect these changes more than others. When researching topics related to LGBTQIA+ communities you may need to use search terms that are outdated and offensive, particularly if it is an historical topic. An example of this is that the PubMed MeSH terms "Gender dysphoria", "Disorders of sexual development", "Sexual and gender minorities" are obviously ones that the communities themselves would not use and are extremely broad. If you have questions on how to structure a search with various terms please see "Creating an Effective Search" and/or reach out to a librarian.


One might have to utilize DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders from the American Psychiatric Association) and earlier DSMs diagnoses in a search about LGBTQIA+ Health. The timeline below shows a brief overview of ways that LGBTQIA+ identities have been historically labeled as psychiatric disorders. The shift away from harmful psychiatric diagnoses in the DSM over time has largely been thanks to past and present activists in LGBTQIA+ communities (Daley & Mulé, 2014). Even though LGBTQIA+ identities are no longer explicitly considered psychiatric diagnoses like they once were, there are still ways that the DSM-5 is used to harmfully pathologize LGBTQIA+ identities.


The debate regarding the DSM-5 diagnosis of "gender dysphoria" is a prime example of these issues. Some advocates argue that this diagnosis is necessary to ensure health insurance coverage for gender-affirming care such as hormonal therapy or surgery, however other advocates and activists believe the inclusion of diagnoses that reference the trans experience, contribute to the continued pathologization of people who are transgender. It's important to consider this context and these histories when carrying out LGBTQIA+ health research. 

Timeline of DSM Diagnoses related to LGBTQIA+ Identities (Daley & Mulé, 2014)
  • 1952: "Homosexuality" classified as a "sociopathic personality disturbance" in DSM I
  • 1968: "Homosexuality" was reclassified as a "sexual deviation" in DSM II
  • 1974: The term "Homosexuality" was replaced with "sexual orientation disturbance" in revised DSM II
  • 1980: Diagnosis of "Gender Identity Disorders", which included "transexualism" was first introduced to DSM III
  • 1986: "Transsexualism" is removed from revised DSM III
  • 1994: "Gender Identity disorders" and "Sexual Disorders" in DSM-IV
  • 2013: "Gender and Sexual Identity Disorders" removed and "Gender Dysphoria" is added to DSM-5


Daley, A., & Mulé, N. J. (2014). LGBTQs and the DSM-5: A critical queer response. Journal of Homosexuality, 61(9), 1288-1312.

Terminology Index

Image of computer, book, pencils repeated to show learning

  • Asexual: sexual identity that someone may use if they do not feel sexual attraction to others
  • Bisexual, Bi: sexual identity sometimes used by people who are sexually and emotionally attracted to more than one gender. Some people prefer the term pansexual since it acknowledge the existence of more than two gender identities.
  • Gay: This term may be used specifically to refer to men who are sexually attracted to other men. It is also sometimes used more broadly to include anyone who does not identify as straight. However, just like any of these terms it is important to understand what each individual prefers. This is a more appropriate term than "homosexual" which is outdated.
  • Intersex: this term describes a person who is born with a combination of genitalia, chromosomes, and/or hormones that are different from characteristics used to determine sex assignment at birth.
  • Lesbian: sexual identity that may be used by a woman who is sexually attracted to other women.
  • "Men who have sex with men" (MSM) and "women who have sex with women" (WSW): these phrases are sometimes used in public health research to describe sexual behavior, but they are not indicative of sexual identity.
  • Non-binary: gender identity that may be used by someone whose identity falls outside of the binary of "man" or "woman".
  • Queer: this term may refer to someone's gender identity, sexual identity, or both. This term has different meanings for different people, but is usually meant to mean an identity outside of the gender binary and/or heterosexuality. Historically, queer was an offensive slur used against the LGBTQIA+ community, and in recent decades it has been reclaimed especially by younger generations. Therefore, it is important to be cautious with use of this word especially if you are not part of the LGBTQIA+ community.
  • Transgender, Trans: this is an umbrella term used to describe a person who identifies with a gender other than the sex they were assigned at birth.

For complete lists, including words to avoid:

Need Help? Contact Us!