The queer concept  is used in order to question the notion that there are only two sexes, women and men, and that these sexes are opposites and have a desire for each other. This notion is typically called the hetero-norm or the binary gender norm. A queer identity can come with a wish to include all gender identities, gender expressions and sexualities, or to vary in terms of expression. In Sweden, perhaps the most common acronym when referring to individuals who do not comply with the hetero- and binary gender norm is HBTQ, where Q stands for queer, H for homo, B for bi and T for trans. Similar to the English equivalent LGBTQ, it is an acronym that keeps evolving. For example, the letter I, which stands for intersex person, is being added to the acronym with increasing frequency.

Radical activists began to use the word queer in the 1980s, and prior to that it had been used as a derogatory term for mainly homosexual, bisexual and trans persons. However, in queer theory, the term does not refer to an identity but rather a critical approach to prevailing norms related to gender and/or sexuality. Queer theory is commonly used as an umbrella term for various theoretical perspectives that have been developed since the 1980s in order to analyse sexuality as historically determined relations, identities, structures and values. These perspectives are based on the view that phenomena such as heterosexuality, woman and man should be considered social constructions, as well as on a questioning of sexual identity as a personal trait.