Please Note: If you think of a term that should be included in our glossary, please feel free to contact us here and suggest it. We are always happy to receive feedback from our followers.

Ableism – discrimination against/oppression of people with physical and mental impairments

Able-bodied – someone who is not considered physically or mentally impaired in a given society; their abilities are often viewed as the standard of “normal” or “capable;” althought this standard is socially constructed

AFAB – acronym for “assigned female at birth”

Agender – the gender identity of someone who is without gender; agender people may or may not alter their appearances to reflect their lack of gender, and may or may not identify as trans. “Gender neutral” can be another term for agender

Allistic – any person who is not autistic

Ally – a person who wants to fight for the rights and causes of marginalized groups that they are not a member of

AMAB – acronym for “assigned male at birth”

Asexual – the sexual orientation and/or identity of someone who does not experience sexual attraction; some asexual people engage in sex acts to varying amounts, while others engage in no sex acts at all

Benevolent Discrimination – having a chivalrous attitude toward a marginalized person or persons while simultaneously practicing covert discrimination and/or holding oppressive views about them. The chivalrous attitude is then used to excuse or justify said discrimination. Examples include Benevolent Sexism and Benevolent Ableism

BIPOC – acronym for “Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour”

Bisexual – the sexual orientation and/or identity of someone who is attracted to more than one gender, or to genders similar to and different from their own gender

Cis/Cisgender/Cissexual – the gender and/or sexual identity of someone who identifies as the same gender and/or sex they were assigned at birth

Cisnormativity – the assumption that everyone is cisgender, and/or the view that cisgender is the default gender, i.e., that it’s “normal.” This assumption both harms people with non-cisgender genders by assuming they don’t exist or aren’t legitimate, and privileges cisgender people by normalizing theirs

Cissexism – any form of discrimination against/oppression of non-cis people (trans, non-binary, genderqueer, agender, intersex, etc.) in favour of cis people

CN – stands for “content note;” used to provide commentary and/or additional information on an article/meme/etc.

Classism – discrimination against/oppression of people who are of low (relative to others in their society) socioeconomic status, or “social class,” in favor of people with high[er] socioeconomic status

Colonialism – the complete or partial control over another country, territory, or people; the practice of occupying it with settlers and exploiting it economically; and/or the systems and policies by which the controlling entity maintains their power, control, and influence

Colourblindness/Colourblind Racism – a form of racial avoidance where proponents claim not to “see” colour; this invalidates racial minorities in several ways: it (1) ignores the daily racism faced by people of colour, (2) erases racial identities, (3) validates institutional racism by ignoring it and blaming the disadvantages faced by people of colour on their individual choices, and (4) is an inaccurate representation of reality

Cultural Appropriation – unauthorized use/theft of cultural beliefs, practices, and/or artifacts by another; this typically occurs when a dominant culture absorbs and bastardizes select aspects form a marginalized/oppressed culture

Deadnaming – a “deadname” is the birth name of someone who has since changed their name; deadnaming is calling someone by that deadname (this can be deliberate or unintentional). Many trans people are especially vulnerable to deadnaming, as calling them by their birth name is often akin to misgendering

Demisexual – the sexual identity/orientation of 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” (AVENwiki, “Demisexual”)

Derailing – throwing a discussion off topic (Urban Dictionary, “derailing a thread”). This can be done by making the discussion about something it clearly isn’t, by hijacking the discussion away from other contributors who have meaningful comments, or by turning focus away from crucial aspects and participants of the discussion. There are many forms of trolling, here are just a few:

Trolling – making inflammatory, offensive, and/or discriminatory comments for the purpose of eliciting a heated response, or to further oppress/silence a particular person or group

Concern Trolling – “a person who participates in a debate posing as an actual or potential ally who simply has some concerns they need answered before they will ally themselves with a cause. In reality they are a critic” (Geek Feminism Wiki, “Concern troll”)

Tone Policing – the practice of invalidating/dismissing what someone says because of how they said it; OR, the practice of telling oppressed/marginalized groups how they ought to respond to oppression/discrimination/etc.

Disability – a loss of social, economic, political, etc. opportunities based on physical, psychological, and/or developmental impairments; this typically occurs because the social environment is not conducive to people with such impairments (not because they are inherently incapable)

Erasure – the denial/removal of a particular issue, or of someone and/or their identity

Ethnocentrism – judging other cultures [to be inferior] according to one’s own cultural norms, standards, morals, etc., especially with concern to language, behavior, customs, and religion

Fat-positive Feminism – a branch of feminism that merges with and focuses on fat activism; it addresses how misogyny/sexism intersects with sizeism and fat-shaming, promotes positive body images for people of all sizes, and seeks to eradicate negative connotations associated with fatness

Folx – the [all] gender neutral version of “folks;” In some languages, “folks” is a gendered noun, so using “folx” is a way to include people of all genders, especially non-binary genders. 

Gaslighting – a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt themselves. Instances may range from the denial of previous abusive incidents to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim (Wikipedia, “Gaslighting”)

Gender – socially constructed categories to which people are assigned (by themselves or others) based on the cultural norms/rules governing the performance/expression of one’s sex category (and may or may not be related to one’s biology). Gender can also be determined by what a person feels or does (Dr. Zuleyka Zevallos, “Sociology of Gender”)

Genderfluid – a person whose gender changes over time, and may identify as male, female, agender, any non-binary identity, or some combination of gender identities at any time. Regular changes are not required to be genderfluid, as someone may change genders only once in their lifetime and still be genderfluid. Additionally, a genderfluid person’s physical appearance may or may not change to match their current gender

Gender Nonconforming – a person who does not conform to the concept of gender either in their gender identity and/or in their gender expression. Gender nonconforming folx can be trans, agender, non-binary, genderqueer, gender fluid, or something else

Genderqueer – a person who does not subscribe to the conventional gender binary, and instead identifies with neither, all, or a combination of male, female, or other genders. Some genderqueer folx are trans while others are genderqueer (i.e., “genderqueer” is the term they use to signify their gender). The terms “genderqueer” and “non-binary” are often interchangeable, but not always

Heteronormativity – the assumption of heterosexuality and/or the view that heterosexual is the default sexual orientation/identity, i.e., that it’s “normal.” This assumption both harms people of non-heterosexual orientations/identities by assuming they don’t exist or aren’t legitimate, and privileges heterosexual people by normalizing their orientation/identity

Heterosexism – discrimination against/oppression of those with sexual orientations/identities other than heterosexual in favour of those who are heterosexual

Homophobia – discrimination against/oppression of gay and/or lesbian people

Impairment – a physical, psychological, and/or developmental injury or illness that reduces/impedes a person’s physical, psychological, and/or developmental function in society

Intersectionality – a term coined by critical race theorist and law professor, Kimberlé Crenshaw, in 1989, it is defined as, “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage” (Oxford Dictionaries, “Intersectionality”). The term is used to describe the ways systems of oppression (e.g., racism, sexism, cissexism, heterosexism, classism, ableism, etc.) are interconnected, and therefore why they cannot be examined separately. The reason for this is two-fold: (1) people’s identities are multi-faceted, and (2) the different disadvantages/marginalization experienced under each system of oppression overlap and are interdependent; in other words, people experience multi-layered oppression

Intersex – an umbrella term for anyone who is born with genitalia, reproductive organs, sex hormonal levels, gonads, and/or chromosomes that are inconsistent with the strictly defined male and female sex categories; approximately 1 in every 2000 children born are intersex (Intersex Society of North America, “How common is intersex?”)

Islamophobia – discrimination against/oppression of Muslim people; this could be based solely on religious beliefs, and/or on cultural or ethnic heritages which are tied to Islam  

Mansplaining – when men attempt to “educate” women and feminine of center folx about something related to their own experience or expertise in a condescending or otherwise demeaning way; in other words, it’s men “correcting” women and feminine of center folx with an attitude of “honey, you’re wrong, I/men know best.” Mansplaining usually tries to excuse/justify sexism/misogyny by “explaining” to women and feminine of center folx that this particular form of sexism/misogyny is not actually oppressive, that it is unavoidable, or that it’s not sexist/misogynistic at all. Essentially, it’s men telling women and feminine of center folx what is and is not sexist/misogynistic

Misgender – to call someone by the wrong gender/gender pronoun/gendered term (this can be deliberate or unintentional)

Misogyny – hatred of women; often aggressive and sometimes violent

Misogynoir – “to describe the particular brand of hatred directed at black women in American visual and popular culture” (Moya Bailey)

MOGAI – acronym for, “marginalized orientations, gender identities, and intersex”

Monosexism – discrimination against/oppression of those who are attracted to multiple genders in favour of those who are attracted to only one gender; under a monosexist view, sexual orientations/identities where there is only attraction to one gender are the sole legitimate orientations/identities

Monosexual – the sexual orientation/identity of someone who is attracted members of one gender only

MRA – Men’s Rights Activist; typically identified by their violent misogyny, aggressive anti-feminism, pro-rape or rape apology, and fedoras. Even run-of-the-mill misogynists tend not to like MRAs, but they do find refuge in the bowels of the internet; and no, this isn’t a joke

Multisexual – BIAH uses the term “multisexual” to refer to any sexual identity/orientation in which someone is attracted to more than one gender. However, the term is sometimes used to describe any sexual identity/orientation in which attraction is not based on gender (similar to pansexuality)

Neurodivergent – any person who has a developmental, behavioral, and/or mental impairment or disability

Neurodiversity – “an approach to learning and disability that suggests diverse neurological conditions appear as a result of normal variations in the human genome. This neologism originates in the late 1990s as a challenge to prevailing views of neurological diversity as inherently pathological, instead asserting that neurological differences should be recognized and respected as a social category on a par with gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability status” (Wikipedia, “Neurodiversity”)

Neurotypical – any person who does not have a developmental, behavioral, and/or mental impairment or disability

Non-binary (Gender Identity) – when referring to gender identity, the term “non-binary” can refer to anyone who does not identify within the confines of the masculine-feminine gender binary

Non-binary (Sexual Orientation/Identity) – when referring to sexual orientation or identity, the term “non-binary” can refer to anyone who is attracted to those who are not within the confines of the masculine-feminine gender binary, or to more people than just those who are within the confines of the gender binary

Non-monogamous – a general term for those who do not subscribe to a monogamous lifestyle, and/or are involved with multiple romantic and/or sexual partners at a time

Pansexual – the sexual orientation/identity of those who are attracted to people regardless of gender; OR the sexual orientation/identity of those who are attracted to people of all genders. The definition of pansexuality is highly debated and very vague; it is best to ask individual pansexuals how they define it for themselves

Passing –  a “sociological term used to define and classify the actions of people who are able to be regarded as members of social groups other than their own” (RationalWiki, “Passing”)

PoC – person/people of colour

Polyamory – the practice of being ethically and honestly romantically and/or sexually intimate with multiple people at the same time to equal or varying degrees

Polysexual – BIAH uses the term “polysexual” to mean the practice of being sexually intimate with multiple people at the same time; romantic attachment with one or more sexual partners is not required, but is definitely possible. However, the term can sometimes refer to any sexual orientation that is not a monosexual orientation

Pro-birth/Pro-birther – people who believe every, or almost every, human fetus must be carried to term regardless of the needs or desires of the pregnant person; these people call themselves “pro-life,” but that is not an accurate description, as they prioritize the lives of fetuses over the well-being of pregnant people

QPoC – queer person/people of colour

Queer – originally a pejorative term, it has now been reclaimed and used as a general, sort of umbrella term for LGBTIA+ folxs; however, because it was once used offensively, avoid labeling others as “queer”

Queerphobia – a sort of umbrella term for discrimination against any member of the LGBTQIA+ community; where “homophobia” only describes discrimination against gay and lesbian folxs, “queerphobia” describes discrimination against anyone who identifies as queer

Racism – discrimination against/oppression of those of minority/marginalized racial categories (i.e., non-white). Racism requires power and racial privilege because it has to do with institutional/structural disadvantages/marginalization faced by those of minority/marginalized racial categories; therefore, “reverse racism” against dominant/privileged racial groups (i.e., whites) is not possible

Radical Feminism – a branch of feminism that seeks to challenge the very structure of society; Radical Feminism is not inherently problematic, but certain subsets of Radical Feminism are trans exclusionary and/or sex worker exclusionary

Rape Culture – “Rape Culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women and feminine of center folx is normalized and excused in the media and pop culture. Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s and feminine-presenting folx’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s, feminine of center, and otherwise genderqueer folx’s rights and safety” (Marshall University Women’s Center, “Rape Culture”)

Respectability Politics – a “cultural, sexual, domestic, employment and artistic “guidelines” or “rules” for racially marginalized groups to follow in the effort to be viewed as “human” in a White supremacist society. Some of the most noticeable manifestations of the politics of respectability occurs among Black people; the politics of respectability implies that recognition of Black humanity has to be “earned” by Black people by engaging in puritanical behavior as approved by White supremacy” (Gradient Lair, “The politics of respectibility”) This concept may also be applied to society’s cissexist expectations of trans folx’s behavior and activism, or ableist expectations of disabled folx’s behavior and activism, or heterosexist expectations of queer folx’s behavior and activism, andso on.

Sapphobia – discrimination against/oppression of bisexual women and bisexual femms; e.g., the fetishization of bi women or femms by heterosexual men

Sexism – systematic discrimination or disadvantaging of women and feminine of center folx; sexism does not “work both ways” because it has to do with the institutional/structural disadvantages that uniquely affect women and feminine of center folx in society, politics, economics, etc. A “sexist” is someone who advocates for/agrees with maintaining these systematic discriminations/disadvantages

Sex-shaming – shaming someone for their sexual behavior; also called “slut-shaming”

Sex Work – an umbrella term for all jobs/careers in the sex industry; this includes, but is not limited to, prostitution, pornography, erotica, and dancing/stripping. Sex work does NOT include sex/human trafficking, or any form of forced sex labor

Sizeism – discrimination based on size and/or weight. This has less to do with the actual size of clothes one wears or how much one weighs, and more with what size someone is relative to was is considered “normal” or socially acceptable

SWERF – Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminist; typically identified by their misconceptions about sex work, and assumptions that all sex workers are either (a) exploited/oppressed or (b) encourage male objectification/domination of women, and thus harm women

TERF – Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist; typically identified by their belief that trans women are not “real” women and therefore pose the same, if not greater, threats to “real” women (aka: “women born women”) as cis men

Trans/Transgender – the gender identity of someone who identifies with a gender that is different from the one they were assigned at birth. This is the ONLY requirement for being trans; trans people do not need to alter their appearances in any way to be really trans

Transition – The time when a person begins living as the gender with which they identify rather than the gender they were assigned at birth, which often includes changing one’s first name and dressing and grooming differently. Transitioning may or may not also include medical and legal aspects, including taking hormones, having surgery, or changing identity documents (e.g. driver’s license, Social Security record) to reflect one’s gender identity. Medical and legal steps are often difficult for people to afford” (National Center for Transgender Equality, “Transgender Terminology”)

Transmedicalism – the idea that a person must suffer from gender dysphoria in order to be ‘really’ trans, and/or that a person must at least have the desire to transition in order to be ‘really’ trans. Transmedicalism tends to be strictly in line with western medical definitions of what it means to be trans that were created by overwhelmingly cisgender medical professionals. Thus transmedicalist views are poor reflections of reality for many trans and gender nonconforming folx

Transmedicalists – those who hold transmedicalist views, they can be trans themselves (although plenty of non-trans folx are transmedicalists too), and they are sometimes referred to as “truscum”

Transmisogyny – discrimination of, or bigotry toward, trans women and otherwise genderqueer feminine of center folx; typically oppresses/discriminates against trans women in some way because of those feminism characteristics. 

Transphobia – discrimination against/oppression of trans people; often aggressive and sometimes violent

TW – stands for “trigger warning;” they are warnings “designed to prevent unaware encountering of certain materials or subjects for the benefit of people who have an extremely strong and damaging emotional response (for example, post-traumatic flashbacks or urges to harm themselves) to such topics” (Geek Feminism Wiki, “Trigger Warnings”)

Victim-blaming – when the victim of a crime, discrimination, or wrongful act is blamed, partially or entirely, for the act committed against them and/or any subsequent consequences of that act. This is most often used against rape, intimate partner/domestic violence, and other abuse survivors

White Feminism™ – a type of feminism that excludes or even outright oppresses women of colour/non-western women and prioritizes white women over WoC/non-western women, thus maintaining a racial hierarchy in the feminist movement

Whitesplaining – when white people excuse/justify racism by “explaining” to people of colour that the that particular form of racism isn’t actually oppressive, that it is unavoidable, or that it isn’t racist at all. Essentially, it’s white people telling people of colour what is and is not racist

WoC – woman/women of colour

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