If you’re new to the lesbian world, there are a few things you should know before dating other lesbians. One of those things is to understand the different types of lesbians you might meet out in the pond.
Another is to familiarise yourself with the various lesbian terms you might hear when speaking with others in the community. Luckily, that’s kinda what this article is all about.
I know what some of you are thinking. Why do we have to label everything and insist on cramming ourselves into boxes? But the truth is, many folx in the LGBTQ+ community rely on their (lesbian) label or type to identify and define themselves, and that’s perfectly ok.
At the same time, not everybody conforms to stereotypes – stereotypes can be problematic for various reasons – and we can’t assume anything about a person purely based on aesthetics or status.
With this in mind, by no means is the idea of this article to offend anybody or to cram ourselves into a box. In fact, there are a number of terms on this list that I find exclusionary to some members of the LGBTQ+ community.
But it’s to help us understand existing social dynamics and the common lesbian terms used amongst the queer community. It’s all very tongue in cheek, so I hope you can have a few laughs along the way.
Right, now we’ve got that out of the way; let’s get to it. Here are some of the different kinds of lesbians you can expect to meet, as well as the most common lesbian terms.
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The Problem with Lesbian Labels
While we’ve all heard the typical lesbian stereotypes such as butches and femmes, the spectrum is far more complex than that. And the more progressive that society becomes, the more comfortable we are becoming in recognising our own unique identities.
That said, it’s important not to become too obsessed with (lesbian) labels and what they say about us. I know first-hand how fixating on labels can lead to feelings of isolation, or like you don’t ‘fit in’.
I remember believing that I had to look, dress, and act a certain way if I wanted to be a valid member of the community.
According to what some of these terms say about queer women, I’d already lost serious lesbian points by sleeping with a man. But, of course, that’s ridiculous.
Regardless of your past or where you sit on the spectrum, if YOU consider yourself a lesbian, then you ARE a lesbian. Own that fact and know that you are VALID.
Nowadays, I find that I don’t fit into any specific category. One day I might feel more femme; on others, I might feel more of a tomboy.
Remember, s$xuality and identity can be fluid, regardless of what people might tell you otherwise.
The Different Types of Lesbians
Lesbian: Anybody who isn’t a man and is attracted to non-men may identify as lesbian. Lesbians can be attracted to non-binary people and anyone who doesn’t identify as a man. Lesbians can also be transgender or identify as non-binary.
1. The Lipstick/Femme Lesbian
A lipstick lesbian, otherwise known as a femme lesbian, is renowned for being the most feminine variety of our species.
According to the stereotype, they dress to impress, aren’t afraid of wearing dresses, can actually walk in stilettos, and know how to apply liquid eyeliner flawlessly.
Having said that, as our definition of gender and s$xuality evolves, so does our idea of what “femme” actually means. Can someone be a top in bed, do the DIY, and still identify as femme? Sure they can.
It’s an ever-broadening spectrum. But to put it simply, femmes embrace their queerness and their feminity equally.
Example of a femme lesbian: Sarah Paulson
2. The Butch/Diesel Dyke Lesbian
On what’s considered the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the butch lesbians.
Our beloved butches are often accused of imitating men. When actually, they are expressing their own interpretation of masculinity.
Not only that, they are complete badasses. You’ll often catch them sporting an enviable muscular physique, perhaps riding a Harley Davidson, and making the girls swoon with their charm & confidence.
Most of all, however, butch is an attitude. They exude dyke energy. We can only hope to be as cool as them when we grow up.
If you want a fun-fuelled, o*gasm-filled, lesbian relationship, you won’t be disappointed with a butch lesbian. And you can pretty much guarantee they’ll treat you like the queen that you are.
Example of a butch lesbian: Lea DeLaria – AKA Big Boo in the Lesbian Netflix show Orange Is the New Black.
3. The Chapstick Lesbian
A chapstick lesbian is a lesbian term used to describe a person who sits somewhere between a butch and a femme. They might also identify as soft butch, stem, futch, or tomboy.
Chapsticks aren’t masculine, but they aren’t feminine either. And they could sway more to either side depending on how they feel on the day.
No doubt they will always look super stylish and will likely sport an edgy haircut that they will say is their staple feature.
Example of a chapstick lesbian: Ellen DeGeneres
4. The Alpha Lesbian
Top of the lesbian food chain and don’t they know it! With their razor-sharp jawlines, incredible tattoos and buckets of s$x appeal, alphas manage to turn heads wherever they go.
Of course, this is just another massive stereotype. And while it might seem that alphas have been blessed with a gift from the gods, truth is, anybody can be an alpha.
The secret to being an alpha is confidence. There is nothing more attractive than someone who’s comfortable in their own skin and knows what they want.
Example of an Alpha lesbian: Shane from the L Word
5. The Activist Lesbian
All hail the activist lesbian! This superhuman type of lesbian is out there on the front line, helping to protect the rights of our entire community.
Their egos are non-existent, and they don’t care where you sit on the ever-broadening spectrum. They believe in liberty and justice for all. And they aren’t afraid to speak up for those whose voices need amplifying.
We’ve come a long way in the past few decades. But we would never have gotten there if it wasn’t for the activists in our community.
Activism has been imperative for the LGBTQ+ community to gain acceptance and equality in modern society. And it will be crucial to our progression in the future.
We believe that we can all play our part in activism. It needn’t be on a large scale. But we can all attend Pride marches, we can boycott anti-LGBTQ+ brands and businesses, and we can use our voice and platforms to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ matters around the world.
We’ve come a long way, but there’s still a long way to go. And the more of us who get involved, the better!
6. The Stone Butch Lesbian
A stone butch lesbian sports the same characteristics as a butch lesbian; however, they are known to be strictly givers in the bedroom.
Their pleasure is derived from pleasuring their partners, and they rarely expect anything in return. This rare trait makes them a favourable partner of the ‘pillow princesses’ (see number 7).
7. The Pillow Princess Lesbian
On the opposite side of the coin of the stone butches, we have our pillow princesses.
These high maintenance types of lesbian love to be the recipients of intimacy and rarely return the favour.
So you can see why they pair well with the stone butch lesbians!
8. The Sporty Lesbian
As the name suggests, a sporty lesbian, more than anything, identifies with being an athlete.
They regularly play football, probably own a skateboard, and should probably be an ambassador for Vans. Their body is a temple, and you know they’re hiding some killer abs beneath that baggy t-shirt.
If you want to date a sporty lesbian, an ideal date will be bowling or mini-golf, or some other competitive activity.
That is if you can pin them down, of course. Their calendar is grid-locked with sports tournaments, training, and hitting the gym. So prepare for some serious competition in every sense of the word.
9. The Alternative Lesbian
I’m not entirely sure if this is a common term used amongst the lesbian community, but I use it to describe the girls who are slightly quirky or eccentric.
They could be emo or a goth, or they could simply dye their hair in whacky colours. Either way, they make a statement, and they get away with a style that most people can’t.
This type of lesbian stands out in the crowd for me. They usually boast some interesting tattoos or piercings, can always be seen having fun, and are confident without being pretentious.
10. The Gold Star Lesbian
Gold star lesbians are those who’ve never slept with a man. They are considered the purest breed of our kind and wear their gold star as a badge of honour.
Honestly, I don’t like this biphobic/pan-phobic term, as it suggests that if you’ve been with a man, you’re not a ‘real’ lesbian which is rubbish.
I was confused, ok! I say give a gold star to everyone on the spectrum.
11. The Hasbian Lesbian
A ‘hasbian’ is the word used to describe women who once identified themselves as lesbian, but now they are dating a man or identifying as straight.
Again, this term has a slightly malicious connotation and could be deemed discriminative against the bi and pan communities.
If recent years have taught us anything, it’s that s$xuality and identity are incredibly fluid. And we should all feel free to follow our hearts without fear of judgement from others in the community.
So by all means, use the term ‘hasbian’. But use it in a lighthearted manner. I put it in the same category as ‘d*ke’, in a sense that I would only use it jokingly amongst my friends.
12. The Power/Suit Lesbian
A power lesbian is usually the term used to describe a queer woman or person who is influential and well-respected amongst the community.
They are generally highly successful, and despite their orientation, has excelled in their line of work. Their profession could be anything – a police officer, a sports star, a politician, or a lawyer.
Power lesbians are an inspiration, as they remind us that anything is possible. They are crushing stereotypes and rising above bigotry, to show the world we are here. And we aren’t going anywhere.
13. The Baby Dyke
Also known as “d*kes in training” a baby d*ke is new on the lesbian scene.
They’ve only recently come out of the closet and still working on finding their feet within the community.
Thankfully, the predators among us are more than happy to help them do just that.
14. The Stud Lesbian
A ‘stud’ lesbian is a term used to describe a butch woman or non-binary person who is Black or Latinx.
The term has been appropriated in recent years, and many white masc-presenting lesbians identify themselves as studs on social media. But for the record: it isn’t a term that white people should use.
If you have been using this word and didn’t realise its origin, that’s ok. To be honest, I didn’t know this was a Black term until quite recently.
However, once we do know, we must listen, learn and stop using it. And it would be wise to educate ourselves on the origin of labels to make sure we’re not appropriating anything.
Other Lesbian Types & Terms
D*ke is another term used to describe a lesbian.
Historically, it was used in a derogatory way by people outside of the community. So naturally, when I first came out as a lesbian, I thought the word was extremely offensive.
To be honest, I still wouldn’t say I like it much. It just doesn’t sound very pleasant to me. But I’m glad that as a community we’ve reclaimed the word.
Some lesbians prefer the term d*ke; others still get offended by it. So more often than not, ‘d*ke’ is a term used amongst friends, not thrown around willy nilly.
Androgynous is an umbrella term used to define an individual’s style choice. It’s when somebody challenges gender norms by neither appearing like a woman nor like a man.
For example, an androgynous female may wear a suit and minimal make-up. At the same time, an androgynous male may wear a skirt and lipstick.
It’s all about breaking down the barriers of how we believe a ‘woman’ or a ‘man’ should present themselves. How awesome and empowering is that?
It’s also worth noting that anybody can be androgynous, regardless of orientation or gender identity.
Famous androgynous icons include Prince, David Bowie, Kristen Stewart, and Ruby Rose.
Non-Binary is a broad term used to describe anybody who doesn’t identify with either the male or female gender binary. It’s not to be confused with androgynous, which relates only to the individual’s style choice.
Again, being non-binary does not correspond with your orientation. You can identify as lesbian, queer, straight, transgender, or anything else in-between and still identify as non-binary.
Someone non-binary may like to use different pronouns than those assigned at birth or be called another name. They might also prefer not to be associated with gendered terms, like lesbian, sister or wife. They may get gender reaffirming surgery or they may not.
It all comes down to each individuals preferences, and we must take the time to understand what those are so we can be supportive allies.
You may also hear the terms bigender, agenda, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, or genderfluid. All fall under the non-binary umbrella.
Queer is a term used for any s$xual and gender minorities who are not straight or cisgender. So anybody under the LGBTQ+ umbrella can define themselves as queer, including lesbians.
Originally, queer meant to be ‘strange’ or ‘peculiar’, and historically it was used in a derogatory way by people outside of the community.
Similar to ‘d*ke’, however, the community has reclaimed the word, and many now use it to define themselves.
Celesbian is a term used to describe lesbian celebrities. Some famous lesbians include Ellen De Generes, Ruby Rose, Sarah Paulson, Cynthia Nixon, Lily Tomlin, Jody Foster, and Audre Lorde.
21. U-Haul Lesbians
The term “U-Haul lesbians” originated from a joke invented by famous butch lesbian Lea De’Laria. If you haven’t heard it already, here’s how it goes:
Joke: What do lesbians bring to a second date?
Answer: A U-Haul Van.
The joke pokes fun at the stereotype that lesbians become emotionally invested in a relationship very quickly.
And while it obviously can’t be said for all lesbian love stories, there is a whole lot of truth in this joke which is why it’s so funny.
Joke: Where do lesbians celebrate their one year anniversary?
Answer: The IVF Clinic.
I’ll show myself out.
LBD is an abbreviation for Lesbian Bed Death – A horrifying term that refers to a lack of intimacy between lesbian couples.
It’s said that lesbians who’ve been together for a long time, tend to have less intimate relations than any other couple!
We certainly don’t want to fall into that trap, do we? So, thankfully we got this solid relationship advice from our good friends and s-xperts Breaking the Distance, on how to avoid the dreaded LBD.
Ever heard the term c*ck block? Well, cl*terference is the same thing but for girls. It’s basically when somebody stands in the way of you getting laid.
It could be your needy friend who demands your attention at all times. Or it could be that overprotective friend that refuses to let her hot friend speak to you.
Or worse of all, it could be the b*tch that just stepped in and bought that girl a drink first. What a cl*terference!
Another common lesbian joke is that many of us tend to pick partners that look similar to ourselves. If you can relate, then you, my friend, are a dopplebanger.
Natalie and I have been told on several occasions that we look like sisters. And sometimes even twins. But other than both having blonde hair and blue eyes, we just don’t see it.
What’s Your Favourite Lesbian Term?
Thank you for reading! We hope you enjoyed this list of the various types of lesbians and phrases.
Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list. There are dozens of lesbian terms used amongst our community, and the list continues to grow.
Be sure to let us know if you have any others that you think need to be on this list. We love hearing from you. You can reach out to us in the comment section below.
Thank you for reading.
Re: #8 Pillow Princess, the word you want is recipients, not reciprocators. The whole point is they don’t reciprocate!
Hahaha… Thank you so much for pointing out the typo! x
Great Article… I learned much.I often wonder how trans-man- (woman who are now man and identify as man) fit into the category of Lesbian- I currently have some one close to me who transitioned and only identifies asman. and i better not dear put trans- man in front of that. How could this article implement gender-non conforming, non-binary, genderfluid and intersex.
Hi Melvin. I’m glad you learnt something from the article and I appreciate you taking the time to comment. You make a great point. I will do some research and perhaps release another guide with other more inclusive LGBTQ+ terms.
thank you for this. I’m a hasbian and proud of it, you know? we got a lot of hate during lesbian day
Hi Kaes. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. It’s so unfair that you experienced hate during lesbian day, that’s totally uncalled for. Know that it says more about the people that spread the hate than what it says about you. Nobody deserves to be judged for their past or present sexuality… Take care x
what it is called when a girl love only one girl ?she fell in love with only one girl whom she find attractive also and as that girl is now far away from her so now when she is too lonely and try too keep herself busy with other friends then sometimes she feels attractive the closest friend who is also girl but she find her attractive when she misses the other girl who is far away from her… and when she thinks about to have relationship without someone else she find out that she doesn’t feel for anyone else other than that girl who is living far away not even feels attractive anyone not girl not boy…. I don’t know if I have clearly explained the situation but I am just trying to help my friend who is now feeling mentally depressed aas she likes a girl now she doesn’t feel for anyone else …… and when she misses the girl she try to get her best friend who is straight …and after a while she realise that she doesn’t feel or finds attractive no one in the world other than that girl living far away
Hi Araaf. Thank you for your message. The only way I can think of describing your friends’ situation is ‘love’. Love has no gender or boundaries or labels, it’s just love. You can’t help who you fall in love with. And when you love somebody, it’s hard to imagine yourself with anybody else. H hope your friend and the girl find a way to be together. Can they consider a long-distance relationship? Happy to talk with you more about this if you want to drop us a message x
Good article, but it says Chapstick lesbians have short hair. I don’t know where I am on the scale of 0=Femme and 10=Butch. I’m a bit more masculine than feminine, but I do wear dresses once in a blue moon. I’d feel weird in a tux, but wear jeans (regular fit; not too tight or very loose) and t-shirts. I have long hair, so everyone assumes I’m Straight. So I don’t fit into any category listed. Shrug…
Hi Caoilainn. Thanks for your message. I know how you feel; I’ve always felt the same way. But as I said in the article, we needn’t try to cram ourselves into a box or label. We just need to be ourselves. Some days I feel more feminine than others. Just be you. That’s the best label you can ever be. Take care. xx