This list of terms is not meant to be exhaustive. Because of the way language works, particularly around these concepts, it is important to note that many of these terms continue to evolve and shift depending on the global context.

This list was compiled from the key terms and concepts we use in our Learning and Development offerings

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General Terminology

Our identities are who we are as individuals, including our personal characteristics, history, personality, name, and other traits that make us unique and different from other individuals.


Operationalized when individuals are considered part of the constitutional foundation of an organization or institution. Belonging is achieved when individuals have the ability to critique and hold an institution responsible for advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion


Is the the coerced hiding of crucial aspects of one’s self.


Diversity is demography and often representational. It is a complex interplay of social identities and issues


Fairness and parity in distribution of resources based on historical and contemporary differentials that mitigate participation in society.

Implicit Bias

Also known as implicit social cognition, implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.  These biases, reside deep in the subconsciousness and encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control.


The degree to which diversity is embedded, integrated, and involved.


The subtle ways in which verbal and nonverbal language convey oppressive ideology about power or privilege against marginalized identities.


A sociopolitical, not biological, construct that is created and reinforced by social and institutional norms and practices, as well as individual attitudes and behaviors.

Stereotype threat: Stereotype threat is "the threat of being viewed through the lens of a negative stereotype or the fear of doing something that would inadvertently confirm that stereotype".  (Steele, 1999)


Bias is prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.


the all-encompassing system of discrimination and exclusion of people with disabilitiies.


The system of oppression that values cisgender people and upholds the gender binary. Therefore, cissexism marginalizes and makes invisible the lives and experiences of transgender people.


The institutional, cultural, and individual set of practices and beliefs that assign differential value to people according to their socioeconomic class.


The system of oppression that values heterosexuality and assumes that heterosexuality is the only natural, normal, or acceptable sexual orientation. Therefore, heterosexism marginalizes and makes invisible the lives and experiences of queer people.


The belief or assumption that all people are heterosexual, or that heterosexuality is the "norm" state of human relationships and behavior. This is one manifestation of heterosexism


A pervasive system of advantage and disadvantage based on the socially constructed category of race. Racism is enacted on multiple levels simultaneously: Institutional, cultural, interpersonal, and individual. Institutional structures, policies, and practices interlock with cultural assumptions about what is right and proper to justify racism. Individuals internalize and enact these assumptions through individual behavior and institutional participation. Woven together, these interactions create and sustain systemic benefits for whites as a group, and structure discrimination, oppression, dispossession, and exclusion for people from targeted racial groups.” (Bell, L.A., Funk, M.S., Khyati, J.Y., and Valvidia, M. (2016)

Gender-Related Terminology


Refers to someone who identifies their gender identity with their sex assigned at birth; the term cisgender is not indicative of gender expression and/or sexual orientation.

Gender expression

The manifestation of one’s gender identity through clothing, hairstyle, voice, and so on. Person's behavior, mannerisms, interests, and appearance that are associated with gender.

Gender identity

One’s internal sense of identifying as a woman, man, neither of these, both, or another gender(s). Can correlate with sex assigned at birth, or can differ from it.

Gender non-conforming

A term referring to people who do not identify or express themselves in a way that conforms to the traditional norms of the gender binary. Sometimes considered a term that can include gender identities like genderqueer, genderfluid, and androgynous, to name a few.


A term that describes people born with differences in their sex traits and/or reproductive anatomy (e.g., genitalia, hormones, internal anatomy, chromosomes) resulting in bodies that do not fit what society typically defines as “male” or “female”.


A term used to describe gender identities that do not fit within the binary of male and female. Common examples include but are not limited to agender (having no gender identity or a gender neutral identity), bigender (reflecting elements of masculine/feminine gender identities), and gender fluid (reflecting a gender identity that is not fixed and does not recognize the traditional rules of binary gender identities).

Sex assigned at birth

Refers to the determination of one’s “biological sex” on the basis of external genitalia. Chromosomes (such as XX or XY) and hormones (such as estrogen or testosterone) are also involved, but are hardly ever tested in assigning a sex to an individual. People are generally assigned female at birth (AFAB) or assigned male at birth (AMAB). This language may be important for trans and non-binary people, who do not identify with their sex assigned at birth.


A term that describes many gender identities for people who do not identify with their sex assigned at birth; the term transgender is not indicative of gender expression, sexual orientation, and/or physical anatomy. Trans identity may shift throughout a lifetime.


Gender transition refers to the myriad of actions a person may take to connect with the gender with which they identify and, in some cases, alleviate dysphoria. Transition includes some or all of the following options:

  • Medical transition (e.g., hormone therapy, gender-affirming surgeries)
  • Social transition (e.g., using a different name, pronouns; presenting differently)
  • Legal transition (e.g., changing one’s name and/or gender marker on legal documents and identification)

Sexuality-Related Terminology


A term used to describe identities for people who experience little to no romantic attraction for other people (different from asexual).


A term used to describe identities for people who experience little to no sexual attraction for other people (different from aromantic).


An identity for people who are sexually and/or emotionally attracted to people of the same gender and gender(s) that differ from their own.


An identity for people who are sexually and/or emotionally attracted to people of the same gender, although most commonly associated with people who identify as men who are sexually and/or emotionally attracted to some other men.


An identity for people who identify as women or femmes who are sexually and/or emotionally attracted to some other women or femmes.


An identity for people who are sexually and/or emotionally attracted to people of any gender. Some people use the term fluid to describe similar attraction.


Originally a derogatory slur, it has been reclaimed by some to be an inclusive term for those within LGBTQ+ communities. Some individuals claim the term queer as an identity that recognizes the fluidity of sexual attraction and/or gender identity. For many, this is a political identity in resistance to heteronormativity and anything beyond straight/cis. This term is not always seen as inclusive of trans communities, therefore, we commonly refer to our communities as “queer AND trans communities.”