Glossary of Terms

2SLGBTQ+ – Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer (or Questioning), Intersex, Asexual. The placement of Two Spirit (2S) first is to recognize that Indigenous people are the first peoples of this land, and their understanding of gender and sexuality precedes colonization. The ‘+’ represents all the new and growing ways we become aware of sexual orientations and gender diversity.

Ally – A person with particular privileges who is guided by oppressed communities and learns how best to fight oppressions, like ableism, ageism, audism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexism, etc.

Allyship – An active, consistent [and arduous] practice of unlearning and re-evaluating, in which a person in a position of privilege and power seeks to operate in solidarity with a marginalized group.

Barrier – A belief, policy, practice, object, or environment that prevents or limits people’s access to opportunities, benefits, or advantages available to other members of society.

Closeted – A term used in reference to someone who is unwilling or in many cases unable to be open with others about their 2SLGBTQ+ identity or identities.

Coming out – or “Coming out of the closet” is a common term used when someone has chosen to share their 2SLGBTQ+ identity or identities with others.

Dead naming – The act of willfully or accidentally referring to a Trans* person by a name they no longer identify with – this can be a triggering experience and a source of emotional distress.

Gender Policing – The act of imposing or enforcing normative gender expressions on an individual who is perceived as not adequately performing these via their appearance or behavior, the sex that was assigned to them at birth.

Invisible disabilities – An invisible disability is a disability that is not immediately noticeable. These can include brain injuries, chronic pain, mental illness, gastro-intestinal disorders, and much more.

Intersectionality – The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage. This term was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989.

Microaggression – Microaggressions are brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights, invalidations, and insults to an individual or group because of their marginalized status in society. This term was coined in 1970 by psychologist Chester Pierce to speak to the subtle instances of racism experienced by Black people and was later used to explain slights experienced across multiple groups (University of Colorado Boulder, 2021; Williams et al., 2021).

Othering – Othering is a phenomenon where individuals or groups are labeled as not fitting in. This often involves attributing negative characteristics to people or groups that differentiate them from the perceived normative social group.

Outing – The act of disclosing someone else’s 2SLGBTQ+ identity or identities with other people without their consent.

Prejudice – A negative opinion formed about a person without looking at all the facts.

Privilege – Advantages given to some people, but not others, based on their identity or position in society. People are not always aware of the privileges they have until they learn that someone else does not have that same privilege.

Queer – A widely reclaimed identity marker for many 2SLGBTQ+ individuals. Often used as an umbrella term for 2SLGBTQ+ folks or as an identity in-and-of itself, it is important to note that this term may still be offensive to some, (especially to some 2SLGBTQ+ elders).

Race – Race is a social and political construct that groups people together based on their physical similarities such as skin colour, hair colour and texture, and other physical features. These categories have no proven scientific basis and society invents and manipulates them when convenient (Dismantling Racism Works, 2021; Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre, 2021).

Racialized – A term used to refer to Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (also called “BIPOC”) that is used to highlight that “race” is a socially constructed category with political meaning.

Racialization is the process by which those with more power in society place their perceptions and attitudes around what it means to belong to a race upon racialized people.

Racism – Racism is the process by which systems and policies, actions and attitudes create inequitable opportunities and outcomes for people based on race – racism is different from racial prejudice, hatred, or discrimination. It occurs when this prejudice – whether individual or institutional – is accompanied by the power to carry out systematic discrimination through the institutional policies and practices of the society and by shaping the cultural beliefs and values that support those racist policies and practices (Dismantling Racism Works, 2021; Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre, 2021; Australian Human Rights Commission, 2014).

Racism is ordinary, the “normal” way that society does business, the “common, everyday” experience of most racialized and Indigenous communities and people in this country and abroad. Racism is more than just prejudice in thought or action. (Dismantling Racism Works, 2021; Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre, 2021; Australian Human Rights Commission, 2014).

Power – Is the “ability to influence others” in addition to having “access to resources, access to decision-makers to get what you want done, [and] the ability to define reality for yourself and others (Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre, 2021).

Safe(r) Space – A term used to highlight that a given environment is one that prioritizes the emotional and physical safety of those in it. *note: Using the term Safer instead of safe acknowledges the intention without assuming that we can know what would ensure someone else’s safety.

Social Determinants of Health – The social determinants of health (SDH) are the non-medical factors that influence health outcomes. They are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life.

Social location – The combination of factors including gender, race, social class, age, ability, religion, sexual orientation, and geographic location. This makes social location particular to each individual; that is, social location is not always exactly the same for any two individuals.

Trans* – Because the term Trans is being used as an umbrella term in this context, the asterisk on the term Trans is used to acknowledge that not all gender diverse people identify as transgender.

Whiteness – A pervasive ideology based on beliefs, values, behaviours, and attitudes rooted in European colonialism that results in the unequal distribution of systemic and interpersonal power and privilege based on skin colour.

For more terms and/or information on how to incorporate anti-oppressive frameworks into your work practices , read CICMH’s Anti-Oppressive Practice Toolkit.

Guide: PDF Version