These terms are defined to the best of our abilities as QTBIPOC staff who are constantly growing ourselves and each other in our understanding of discrimination and marginalization. Many of the terms have evolved over time and new words and definitions are being created everyday - we welcome any suggestions.
Ableism: “[The] discrimination against people with disabilities, including the expression of hate for people with disabilities, denial of accessibility, rejection of disabled applicants for housing and jobs, institutionalised discrimination in the form of benefits systems designed to keep people with disabilities in poverty, etc.”
Adultism: The system of oppression that is based on the assumption that “adults are better than young people and [therefore] entitled to act upon young people in a myriad of ways without their agreement.”
Ageism: “Ageism is an invisible, but potent type of discrimination that favors one age group over another, usually youth over older adults [and elders].”
Asexual: “A term used to describe someone who does not experience sexual attraction toward individuals of any gender. Asexuality is a sexual orientation, and is different from celibacy, in that celibacy is the choice to refrain from engaging in sexual behaviors and does not comment on one’s sexual attractions. An asexual individual may choose to engage in sexual behaviors for various reasons even while not experiencing sexual attraction. Asexuality is an identity and sexual orientation; it is not a medical condition. Sexual attraction is not necessary for a person to be healthy.” Asexuality is a spectrum.
Bisexual: A person whose romantic and/or sexual attractions are not limited to one sex. For most people, that simply means that you can be attracted to both men and women.
BIPOC: Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color.
Cis(gender): term for someone who exclusively identifies as their sex assigned at birth. The term cisgender is not indicative of gender expression, sexual orientation, hormonal makeup, physical anatomy, or how one is perceived in daily life. Adjective that means “identifies as their sex assigned at birth” derived from the Latin word meaning “on the same side.” A cisgender/cis person is not transgender. “Cisgender” does not indicate biology, gender expression, or sexuality/sexual orientation. In discussions regarding trans issues, one would differentiate between women who are trans and women who aren’t by saying trans women and cis women. Cis is not a “fake” word and is not a slur. Note that cisgender does not have an “ed” at the end.
Chicano/a/x: is a term of pride popularized in the 60's civil rights era for people of Mexican descent born in America to acknowledge their indigenous roots (When a Bully is President: Truth and Creativity for Oppressive Times 2nd Edition by Maya Gonzalez).
Content Warning (CW):
Colonialism: “control by one power over a dependent area or people; a policy advocating or based on such control.”
Colonization: in the USA and much more of the Americas is based on Europeans stealing land and resources by killing, enslaving, corralling, dominating and using Indigenous and African people to increase their prosperity. This history effects present day life in multiple ways, including what and how history is taught (When a Bully is President: Truth and Creativity for Oppressive Times 2nd Edition by Maya Gonzalez).
Colorism: “colorism refers to discrimination based on skin color. Colorism disadvantages dark-skinned people, while privileging those with lighter skin.”
Classism: “prejudice or discrimination based on class” or socioeconomic status
Decolonization: “Decolonization is the meaningful and active resistance to the forces of colonialism that perpetuate the subjugation and/or exploitation of our minds, bodies, and lands. Its ultimate purpose is to overturn the colonial structure and realize Indigenous liberation. First and foremost, decolonization must occur in our own minds. The Tunisian decolonization activist, Albert Memmi, wrote, “In order for the colonizer to be the complete master, it is not enough for him to be so in actual fact, he must also believe in its legitimacy. In order for that legitimacy to be complete, it is not enough for the colonized to be a slave, he must also accept his role.” The first step toward decolonization, then, is to question the legitimacy of colonization. Once we recognize the truth of this injustice, we can think about ways to resist and challenge colonial institutions and ideologies. Thus, decolonization is not passive, but rather it requires something called praxis.”
Demisexual: “A demisexual is a person who does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone. It's more commonly seen in but by no means confined to romantic relationships. Nevertheless, this term does not mean that demisexuals have an incomplete or half-sexuality, nor does it mean that sexual attraction without emotional connection is required for a complete sexuality. In general, demisexuals are not sexually attracted to anyone of any gender; however, when a demisexual is emotionally connected to someone else (whether the feelings are romantic love or deep friendship), the demisexual experiences sexual attraction and desire, but only towards the specific partner or partners.”
Desi: A person of South Asian descent
First Wave Feminism: "refers to a period of feminist activity during the 19th and early 20th century throughout the world, particularly in the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands and the United States. It focused on legal issues, primarily on gaining [white] women's suffrage (the right to vote)" (Wikipedia).
Gender: "refers to the sociological set of boundaries and signifiers that may define people as being feminine, masculine, or androgynous. When you look at someone and decide that she's a girl, based on her appearance, behavior, and presentation of self, you're judging her gender, not her sex" (transwhat.org).
Gender Binary: "is a very common system of thought, referring to certain ideas that many people hold about gender and sex. The gender binary is not correct. It presumes that everyone is either male or female (not so!), and it implies that trans people flat-out do not exist. It is based on the following three principles:
1. There are two genders: man and woman.
2. Every human is either a man/boy or a woman/girl.
3. Humans born with XY chromosomes, penises, testicles, etc. are always men; humans with XX chromosomes, vaginas, ovaries, etc. are always women.
More accurately, it could instead be said that:
1. There are many genders; man and woman are, as it happens, the two most common.
2. Not all humans are either men/boys or women/girls. Lots are, some aren't.
3. Gender and physical sex have a complex relationship to one another, and being born with a certain body doesn't guarantee a certain identity. The majority of men were assigned at birth as "male," and women assigned as "female." The human population varies widely, however, and the former statement is certainly not infallible" (transwhat.org).
Gender Identity: "describes the psychological recognition of oneself as being a member of a certain gender. Gender identity is determined by a person's internal perceptions; it is separate from physical sex, which is an absolute that's determined before birth" (transwhat.org).
Gender Expression: External manifestation of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through “masculine,” “feminine” or gender-variant behavior, clothing, haircut, voice or body characteristics.
Genderqueer "is an identity taken on by a variety of people who feel that, in some way, the very substance of their genders lies outside the gender binary’s two labels of 'male' and 'female'" (transwhat.org).
Graysexual: Under the umbrella of asexuality - describes people who really don’t want sex very often, but who do sometimes experience sexual attraction or sexual desire – those who experience fluidity or don’t fit cleanly into the asexual or sexual camps.
Institutional Oppression: is the systematic mistreatment of people within a social identity group, supported and enforced by the society and its institutions... Institutional oppression occurs when established laws, customs, and practices systematically reflect and produce inequalities based on one's membership in targeted social identity groups. Institutional oppression creates a system of invisible barriers limiting people based on their membership in unfavored social identity groups. The barriers are only invisible to those 'seemingly' unaffected by it. The practice of institutionalized oppression is based on the belief in inherent superiority or inferiority" (Institutionalized Oppression Definitions, PCC.edu).
Intersectionality: was "originally articulated on behalf of black women, the term brought to light the invisibility of many constituents within groups that claim them as members, but often fail to represent them. Intersectional erasures are not exclusive to black women. People of color within LGBTQ movements; girls of color in the fight against the school-to-prison pipeline; women within immigration movements; trans women within feminist movements; and people with disabilities fighting police abuse — all face vulnerabilities that reflect the intersections of racism, sexism, class oppression, transphobia, able-ism and more. Intersectionality has given many advocates a way to frame their circumstances and to fight for their visibility and inclusion." (Kimberlé Crenshaw). For example, the first and second wave of feminism said to include all women, but left out many women of color, queer women, and trans women.
Intersex: refers to a person who has ambiguous genitalia.
Latinx: Latinx (pronounced “La-TEEN-ex”) is a gender-inclusive way of referring to people of Latin American descent.
LGBTQIA2S: Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Intersex Asexual 2Spirit ((When a Bully is President: Truth and Creativity for Oppressive Times 2nd Edition by Maya Gonzalez).
POC: is the acronym for Person of Color, People of Color.
Privilege: "is a set of unearned benefits given to people who fit into a specific social group.
Society grants privilege to people because of certain aspects of their identity. Aspects of a person’s identity can include race, class, gender, sexual orientation, language, geographical location, ability, and religion, to name a few.
Society is affected by a number of different power systems: patriarchy, white supremacy, heterosexism, cissexism, and classism — to name a few. These systems interact together in one giant system called the kyriarchy.
Privileged groups have power over oppressed groups. Privileged people are more likely to be in positions of power – for example, they’re more likely to dominate politics, be economically well-off, have influence over the media, and hold executive positions in companies. Privileged people can use their positions to benefit people like themselves – in other words, other privileged people" (definition from Sian Ferguson, Everyday Feminism, Privilege 101).
QTBIPOC: Queer, trans*, black, indigenous, people of color
Prison Industrial Complex (PIC): "Describes the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing, and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems" (Critical Resistance).
Queer: “A term for people of marginalized gender identities and sexual orientations who are not cisgender and/or heterosexual. This term has a complicated history as a reclaimed slur.” Queer:
- Queer (adj.): attracted to people of many genders
- Although dominant culture tends to dictate that there are only two genders, gender is actually far more complex. Queer can be a label claimed by a person who is attracted to men, women, genderqueer people, and/or other gender nonconforming people.
- Queer (adj.): not fitting cultural norms around sexuality and/or gender identity/expression
- Similarly to the above, queer can be a label claimed by a person who feels that they personally don’t fit into dominant norms, due to their own gender identity/expression, their sexual practices, their relationship style, etc.
- Queer (adj.): non-heterosexual
- Queer is sometimes used as an umbrella term to refer to all people with non-heterosexual sexual orientations or all people who are marginalized on the basis of sexual orientation.
- Queer (adj.): transgressive, revolutionary, anti-assimilation, challenging of the status quo
- Many people claim the label queer as a badge of honor that has a radical, political edge. UU seminarian Elizabeth Nguyen has preached: “Queer, for many folks, is about resistance—resisting dominant culture’s ideas of ‘normal,’ rejoicing in transgression, celebrating the margins, reveling in difference, blessing ourselves.”
- Queer (n.): an epithet or slur for someone perceived to be gay or lesbian
- Queer is still sometimes used as a derogatory term. Many people who have had the word queer used against them are understandably very uncomfortable with the word.
Race: "is a social construct that artificially divides people into distinct groups based on characteristics such as physical appearance (particularly color), ancestral heritage, cultural affiliation, cultural history, ethnic classification, and the social, economic and political needs of a society at a given period of time. Racial categories subsume ethnic groups" (Racial Equality Resource Guide, America Healing).
Racism: "as minorities experience it is the lack of privilege that every minority person has by dint of being a minority. White people as a whole are born into this world with privileges: they are considered more trustworthy, they are far more likely to have connections and money, they are more likely to be born into a better neighborhood, teachers treat them differently, they are not affected by stereotype threat, and their families have not had to struggle to get out of the poverty caused by slavery. Racism is all of those entrenched things that make it easier for whites than for anyone other race in our society" (Social Justice 101: Racism).
School to Prison Pipeline: "a disturbing national trend wherein children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Many of these children have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse, or neglect, and would benefit from additional educational and counseling services. Instead, they are isolated, punished, and pushed out.
Zero-tolerance' policies criminalize minor infractions of school rules, while cops in schools lead to students being criminalized for behavior that should be handled inside the school. Students of color are especially vulnerable to push-out trends and the discriminatory application of discipline" (ACLU).
Transgender/Trans: "encompassing term of many gender identities of those who do not identify or exclusively identify with their sex assigned at birth. The term transgender is not indicative of gender expression, sexual orientation, hormonal makeup, physical anatomy, or how one is perceived in daily life. Also see: The Gender Unicorn.”
Trigger Warning (TW):
White (as in White people): The term white, referring to people, was created by Virginia
slave owners and colonial rulers in the 17th century. It replaced terms like Christian and
“Englishman” (sic) to distinguish European colonists from Africans and indigenous peoples.
European colonial powers established white as a legal concept after Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676
during which indentured servants of European and African descent had united against the
colonial elite. The legal distinction of white separated the servant class on the basis of skin
color and continental origin. “The creation of ‘white’ meant giving privileges to some, while
denying them to others with the justification of biological and social inferiority. (Margo Adair
& Sharon Powell, The Subjective Side of Politics. SF: 1988. p.17.)
White Privilege: A privilege is a right, favor, advantage, immunity, specially granted to
one individual or group, and withheld from another. (Websters. Italics mine.)
White privilege is an historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of: (1) Preferential
prejudice for and treatment of white people based solely on their skin color and/or ancestral
origin from Europe; and (2) Exemption from racial and/or national oppression based on skin
color and/or ancestral origin from Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Arab world.
White Supremacy: White supremacy is an historically based, institutionally perpetuated
system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations and peoples of color by white
peoples and nations of the European continent; for the purpose of maintaining and defending a
system of wealth, power and privilege.
WOC: is the acronym for Woman of Color, Women of Color.