I want to refer to all couples which aren’t man-woman couples.

One expression would be “same-sex couples”. But even "same-sex" doesn't cover everything, as it reaffirms the idea of binary genders (only refers to man-man and woman-woman couples).

So, what word might I use? It should cover not only same-sex couples, but also couples where one of the people is, for example, non-binary, or gender-fluid.

A few options would be “non-normative” or “non-heterosexual” couples, as Wikipedia points out:

Non-heterosexual is used in feminist and gender studies fields as well as general academic literature to help differentiate between sexual identities chosen, prescribed and simply assumed, with varying understanding of implications of those sexual identities. The term is similar to queer, though less politically charged and more clinical; queer generally refers to being non-normative and non-heterosexual. Some view the term as being contentious and pejorative as it "labels people against the perceived norm of heterosexuality, thus reinforcing heteronormativity"

Not sure if that’s the best expression for this though, because they're a little clunky. Also, as written above, they reinforce heteronormativity.

  • Most sources seem to use "same-sex marriage" or "gay marriage" (which is no more inclusive as it may be seen to exclude women as well as non-binary people and/or bisexuals). See Wikipedia. There are a lot of glossaries of LGBT terms online so you might find one with a better term (I haven't yet).
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 10:58
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    It may be too soon for a term to have arisen. Society is still coming to terms with all the implications of gender fluidity, non-binary people, etc.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 11:42
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    “LGBTQIA+ marriage“ probably includes all latest recognised genders. sdstate.edu/office-multicultural-affairs-accessibility/…
    – Gio
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 13:18
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    The issue with "non-" answers, for some, is that it always defines the couple under discussion in terms of what the couple isn't, rather than in terms of what that couple actually is. As a logic exercise negation may work, but in terms of connotation, a non-negative label (yeah, I know) may work better. Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 13:53
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    What's the matter with just couples? Anybody who cares about sexual designation can go ask. Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 16:46

2 Answers 2


I think that whatever term you end up using, you'll have to explain what exactly you mean by it anyway. For example, when a man is with a woman who was born a man, is it a man-woman couple for the purposes of your text?

I like "non-straight" and "non-heterosexual", as you suggest, and "non-traditional" would be another option. But again, you'll have to clarify either of these terms.

  • I like non-traditional too, but it doesn’t convey the idea of LGBTIQA+ I think. I also heard once the term “non-conforming couple”, what do you think of it?
    – Bersan
    Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 11:18
  • Non-conforming has the same problem as non-traditional: it does not specify what it is that the couple does not conform to (just as non-traditional does not specify which traditions the couple rejects). A heterosexual couple consisting of two cis-gendered people may be characterised as non-conforming/non-traditional on the grounds that have nothing to do with gender or sexuality.
    – jsw29
    Commented Nov 11, 2023 at 21:13

I would say, use the word 'queer,' as in queer couples, queer marriage, etc.

There are a lot of articles online that talk about queerness and what it means to be queer- reading those may help expand on the appropriateness of the word to describe what you're looking for.

Two useful definitions.

From Planned Parenthood,

Queer is a word that describes sexual and gender identities other than straight and cisgender. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people may all identify with the word queer. Queer is sometimes used to express that sexuality and gender can be complicated, change over time, and might not fit neatly into either/or identities, like male or female, gay or straight.
The word “queer” has history to it that’s hurtful — “queer” used to be (and sometimes still is) used to put down or disrespect LGBT people. But more and more, people use the word with pride to identify themselves. So don’t call someone “queer” unless you know they’re cool with it. The best thing to do is ask what labels people prefer.

From Merriam-Webster,

queer, adj.2:
of, relating to, or characterized by sexual or romantic attraction to members of one's own sex;
of, relating to, or characterized by sexual or romantic attraction that is not limited to people of a particular gender identity or sexual orientation;
of, relating to, or being a person whose sexual orientation is not heterosexual and/or whose gender identity is not cisgender;
of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity cannot be categorized as solely male or female;
of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity differs from the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth

(The entry from Merriam-Webster also offers a usage note, which I haven't included as it's repetitive)

  • 2
    One possible issue is that two people in a relationship can be queer and can consider themselves a "queer couple" while still being a woman-man relationship. For example, this Dear Abby post is about a "30-something bisexual man" and "a bisexual woman the same age" who reject the "straight" label and who the title refers to as a "queer couple." In other words, there is some slippage between labels for individual orientation or queerness and the actual genders involved in a couple. Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 13:56
  • Queer is just the Q in the more inclusive LGBTQIA+ acronym. ,
    – Gio
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 14:13
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    I don't like 'queer' because of the original bad connotations. "They're a male-male couple", "they're a two-female couple," "they're a gay couple" all seem simpler and more accurate. There just aren't simple phrases for complex situations.
    – user8356
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 16:08

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