Gender & Sexuality dictionary

ceterosexual

[ set-er-oh-sek-shoo-uhl ]

What does ceterosexual mean?

Someone who is ceterosexual is a nonbinary person who is primarily sexually attracted to other nonbinary people.

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Related words

queer, skoliosexual, nonbinary gender, gender-fluid, genderflux

Where does ceterosexual come from?

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The cetero– in ceterosexual is based on the Latin ceterus, “the other, the rest.” You may recognize this word in the phrase et cetera, literally meaning “the rest” and abbreviated as etc. The sense of “other” in ceterosexual isn’t meant to be dismissive or offensive. It is meant to include people whose gender identity does not fit into the male/female binary.

The term ceterosexual can be found by at least 2013 on the online art community, DeviantArt.

While some early instances of ceterosexual use the term as a synonym for the older term skoliosexual, other early uses specifically note that the term is meant as a replacement for skoliosexual. The problems with skoliosexual are twofold.

First, skoliosexual has been used to describe attraction to nonbinary people, regardless of the gender identity of that person themselves. Some in the LGBTQ community feel that, because you cannot identify a nonbinary person without learning their gender identity, skoliosexuality stereotypes the presentation of nonbinary genders or fetishizes them. Second, the skolio- in skoliosexual is based on a Greek root meaning “bent” or “divergent,” which has negative connotations.

Examples of ceterosexual

If sexuality was a choice, I'd be ceterosexual but / I'm really into almost everyone except cis men
@dilly_babbles  July 2019
Also, I'm under the impression that ceterosexual is used to describe attraction to nonbinary people, not trans women or men. If you're a guy attracted to women, be the woman in question cis or trans, that's still heterosexual.
ChillaKilla (user), The Asexual Visibility & Education Network, October 2016

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Who uses ceterosexual?

Use of the term ceterosexual is in flux. It always best to respect a person’s own self-identification (and their right to talk or not talk about that).

Some people use ceterosexual as a non-problematic synonym for skoliosexual. Others see ceterosexual is just as problematic as skoliosexual, especially when both terms are used to describe the attraction of cisgender people to non-cisgender people.

Others use ceterosexual as preferred alternative to skoliosexual, an empowering way of addressing nonbinary gaps in the English language. Several LGBTQ resources, including the 2017 Bisexual Resource Center handbook, specifically define ceterosexual as the sexual orientation of people who identify as nonbinary to others who identify as nonbinary.

 

A related term is ceteromantic, which refers to romantic attraction to a nonbinary person. Like bisexual/bisexuality or heterosexual/heterosexuality, ceterosexual takes the noun form ceterosexuality. Some people in the nonbinary community may used the shortened term cetero.

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Note

This is not meant to be a formal definition of ceterosexual like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of ceterosexual that will help our users expand their word mastery.