LGBT information for refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants

LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. In every country and society, many people belong to one of these communities. In the USA, LGBT people have the same rights and freedoms as everyone else, including the right to marry partners of the same sex.


Who is LGBT?

People who identify as part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) community come from different backgrounds. LGBT includes people of all races, ethnicity, ages, status, and nationalities. There are around 11 million LGBT people in the USA. This is about 5% of the population.

People who have same-sex partners and people who are transitioning between genders can be described as LGBT. LGBT also includes people who are not sure about their gender or sexuality. Some people change the words they use to describe themselves during their lifetime.

Equal rights to marriage

In 2015, the US Supreme Court (which is the highest court in the country) declared that marriages between two people of the same sex are legal. In most of the USA, romantic relationships between two people of the same sex are viewed as equal to those between a man and a woman. In some states, people are not all accepting of LGBT people. When you travel, learn what common opinions are so you can stay safe.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender definitions

Here is an explanation of each letter in LGBT:

  • L: lesbian
    A woman who experiences romantic love or sexual attraction for another woman as a romantic partner
  • G: gay
    Most often used to describe a man who experiences romantic love or sexual attraction for another man. This term sometimes is used to refer to both males and females who experience romantic love or sexual attraction for a same-sex  or same-gender partner.
  • B: bisexual
    A man or woman who experiences romantic and/or sexual attraction toward both males and females.
  • T: transgender or transexual
    Somebody who does not identify with the sex of the body they were born into. They may be in some stage of physical transition to fit their gender. This term is different than all the others because it does not refer to who a person is attracted to. Someone who is transgender can also be lesbian, for example.

Sometimes, you may see the term LGBT with more initials added. An example is LGBTIAA. This is what the other letters mean. 

  • Q: Queer/Questioning
    This term was used as an insult in the past. Now, is it used by many to talk about themselves. Queer is used by gay, bisexual, genderqueer, and transgender people. It means different things to different people. Overall, it means that your gender and sexuality are different than most people’s. Or that you might still be figuring out how you feel.
  • I: Intersex
    This is a term for a person who was born with parts that belong to both sexes. This might mean that their reproductive parts are mixed. Some may be male, while others are female. It could also mean that their genes belong to both sexes.
  • A: Asexual
    Someone who does not experience sexual attraction. Asexual people can date and be in relationships, but they do not have sex. This can also mean “allied”. This is a person who is not LGBT but supports the rights of people who are.
  • A: Ally
    An Ally is someone who identifies as heterosexual (also known as straight) but supports the LGBTQIAA community

LGBT rights and laws

There are laws that prevent discrimination against LGBT people. Discrimination is hurtful language or behavior. Each state has its own laws and it is important to learn the laws in your city or town.

LGBT community

There are many spaces for LGBT people where you can find support and make friends. Each city has different groups, centers, parties, and even LGBT businesses. LGBT centers have resources and organize trans groups and events.

Pride Month

Every June, the LGBT community celebrates their achievements and history.

For transgender people
To find trans groups in your area, you can use Facebook or Google. Many groups are on Facebook. To look for groups online, use the words “trans” or “queer exchange”  together with the name of your city or a nearby larger city. 

Transgender people have some different experiences than lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. You can learn more about transgender people through these pages.

Transgender terms

The transgender (also known as trans) community has special terms they use to talk about themselves and their experiences.

Transgender rights and identification

Transgender people have specific rights when getting healthcare. After changing their gender, they usually want to get new identification. This can include drivers licenses and birth certificates.

Transgender discrimination in housing and at work

Landlords, employers and coworkers are legally not allowed to discriminate against trans people.

Gender reassignment and transitioning

Gender reassignment is any medical procedure that helps transgender people match their physical sex to their gender.

For young people
LGBT young people can visit TrevorSpace. This is run by the Trevor Project, an organization for LGBT youth. TrevorSpace is a monitored site for young people to connect with LGBT people in their community.

Resources for LGBT people and their friends and family

Learn more

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