Language Matters: Glossary of Terms

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Having a common language for talking about and across difference is important for mutual understanding and partnership. The language of diversity is evolving and requires awareness, understanding, and skill. This glossary, though not exhaustive, is a tool to give you the words and meanings to help make conversations easier, respectful and empowering.


  • AAPI/API: Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders
  • AFAB/AMAB: Assigned Male/Female at Birth, and may or may not still identify or express themselves with this gender
  • BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, & People of Color
  • EDI: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Some organizations include a B (belonging), A (accessibility), and J (justice). The phrase/letters are not always used in the same order. For example, some organizations include a B (belonging), A (accessibility), and J (justice). DEI/D&I/IDEA/JEDI
  • ESL: "English as a Second Language" refers to individuals who do not speak English as their first language but may still be proficient in speaking English
  • FTM: "Female-to-Male Spectrum" is used to describe people who are assigned the female gender at birth but identify or express their gender as a male all or part of the time
  • GSD: Gender & Sexual Diversity
  • HBCU: "Historically Black Colleges and Universities" were established, post-American Civil War, in the United States to primarily serve the Black community, although they allow admission to students of all races
  • HSI: "Hispanic Serving Institutions" is defined as accredited, degree-granting, public or private nonprofit institutions of higher education with 25%, or more, total undergraduate Hispanic full-time equivalent (FTE) student enrollment
  • LGBTQIA: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (and/or Questioning), Intersex, and Asexual/Aromantic/Agender (and/or Ally)
  • MTF: "Male-to-Female Spectrum" is used to describe people who are assigned the male gender at birth but identify or express their gender as a female all or part of the time
  • POC: People/Person of Color
  • QPOC: "Queer People of Color" used in the UK and Canada. Another similar acronym is QTIPOC which stands for Queer, Transgender, and Intersex People of Color
  • TERF: "Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist" refers to feminists who are transphobic
  • URGs: University Resource Groups. Sometimes referred to as employee resource groups (ERGs) or affinity groups
  • URM: Underrepresented minorities
  • WOC: Woman/Women of Color 

Advocate: Someone who speaks up for themselves, members of their identity group(s), or other individual or groups who may be experiencing or subject to harm, inequities, disadvantages, or disenfranchisement. They strive to shape public policy to address societal harm or disadvantage affecting group members. 

Agender: A person with no (or very little) connection to gender, no personal alignment with the concepts of either man or woman, and/or someone who sees themselves as existing without gender.

Agency: One's capacity or ability to navigate systems and leverage power.

Asexual: A person who experiences little or no sexual attraction to others and/or lacks interest in sexual relationships/behavior. They may or may not experience emotional, physical, or romantic attraction. Asexuality differs from celibacy in that it is a sexual orientation, not a choice. People who are asexual may call themselves ace.

Ally: Someone who speaks on behalf of others in need or distress until they are empowered to speak for themselves or who elevates the voices of those who are speaking for themselves.

Assimilation: The full adoption of cultural values and patterns of a different social, linguistic, or religious ethos, resulting in diminished or eliminated attitudes and behaviors of the original cultural group.

Belonging: Being in a state of inclusion when individuals feel more confident in their abilities and have the psychological safety to represent themselves authentically without fear of negative consequences to self-image, status, or career.

Bias: Favor toward or prejudice against one thing, person, or group. Systematic patterns where our brains stray from rationality in judgment which can result in attitudes for or against a person, group, or concept, especially in a way considered to be unfair.

Bias incident: A discriminatory or hurtful act that appears to be motivated or is perceived by the victim to be motivated wholly or in part by race, ethnicity, color, religion, age, national origin, sex, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. A biased incident may or may not be illegal or violative of any criminal law.

Bigotry: Judging a group of people based on their identity makers, an feeling and expressing intolerance of them. 

Binary Thinking: Placing things in terms of two options that are mutually exclusive, often leading to oversimplification of complex or nuanced and ideas and identifying markers. Examples include gender binaries and modes of thinking (either/or) that underscore systems of white supremacy.

Biracial: A person who identifies as coming from two races; a person whose biological parents are of two different races.

Bigender/Dual Gender: A person who possesses and expresses a distinctly masculine persona and a distinctly feminine persona and is comfortable in and enjoys presenting in both gender roles.

Bisexual/BI: A person who is attracted to people of their own gender and another gender.

Black: A broad term for all people with ethnic origins in the African continent. Less commonly, this term refers to all people around the world who are not of white European descent. Note that we encourage capitalizing Black (when you’re talking about race) — this is consistent with usage for other ethnic groups like Asian, Arab, Latinx. In the US, the term Black or Black American is typically preferred over African-American for two reasons: it better describes folks who are many generations removed from African ancestors and don’t identify with Africa, and some have criticized the term African-American for being an overly politically correct alternative or even a euphemism for Black.

Cisgender: A description for a person whose gender identity, gender expression, and sex assigned at birth align (e.g., man, masculine and male).

Classism: Prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on a difference in socioeconomic status, income, class, usually perpetuated by wealthier/upper class. 

Cognitive Dissonance: The discomfort that results when one's beliefs run counter to their behaviors and/or new information that is presented. People want to have consistency between their attitudes and perceptions, so when something they hold true is challenged, they will change something--a belief or behavior--to reduce the dissonance.

Color Blind: The belief in treating everyone “equally” by treating everyone the same; based on the presumption that differences are, by definition, bad or problematic and therefore best ignored (i.e., “I don’t see race, gender, etc.”).

Colorism: A socially constructed hierarchy that favors lighter-skinned people over darker-skinned people.

Colonization: A system of power that is based on beliefs of one group's superiority over another.

Critical Race Theory:  a way of thinking that seeks to critically examine U.S. law as it intersects with issues of race and to challenge mainstream American liberal approaches to racial justice.

Cultural Appropriation: The action of taking or misusing elements of people's culture without having authentic relationships with the people or the culture and/or without their permission. 

Cultural Fluency: Understanding of cultural context that allows one to communicate cross-culturally or with those who are different from oneself.

Deficit Thinking: A perspective that attributes failures such as lack of achievement, learning, or success to a personal lack of effort or deficiency in an individual, rather than to failures or limitations of a system. Typically applied to people of color, low-income people, and immigrants.

Dialogue: “Communication that creates and recreates multiple understandings” (Wink, 1997); it is bidirectional, not zero‐sum, and may or may not end in agreement. Dialogue can be emotional and uncomfortable but is safe, respectful, and has greater understanding as its goal.

Disability: A physical or mental condition that limits movements, senses, activities, or emotions

Discrimination: Unlike prejudice, discrimination is the unfair treatment of one person or a group of people because of their identity (race, religion, gender, ability, etc.). Discrimination is an action that can come from prejudice. 

Disparate Impact: The effect of rules or policies that appear to be "neutral" on their face but advantage or disadvantage certain groups. Example: An exam or test-taking rule that does not allow candidates to use the toilet during a 3-hour exam – this disadvantages middle-aged test-takers who need to use the bathroom more frequently.

Diversity: Representation of the full range of visible and invisible identities, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, mental and physical abilities, and characteristics, religion, language, among other identities.

Doing Gender: The notion that gender emerges not as an individual attribute but as accomplished in interaction with others.

Dominant Culture: The cultural values, beliefs, and practices assumed to be the norm and are most influential within a given society. 

Emotional Intelligence: The ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways.

Emotional Tax/Labor — the effects of being on guard to protect against bias at work because of gender, race, and/or ethnicity. Emotional tax affects a person’s health, well-being, and ability to be successful at work.

Enby: an abbreviation used for a nonbinary person in the LGBTQ community. It’s a phonetic pronunciation of NB, short for nonbinary, or people who do not identify their gender as male or female.

Equality: Treating everyone the same way while assuming that everyone starts on equal footing with equal opportunities.

Equity: Working toward fair outcomes for people or groups by treating them in ways that address their unique identities, needs, and/or barriers.

Ethnic groups: The fact or state of belonging to a social group with a shared cultural tradition.

Ethnicity: The culture of people in a given geographic region, including their language, heritage, religion, and customs.

Ethnocentrism: The tendency to believe that your own ethnic group is centrally important and measure all others using the standards and customs of your own.

Feminism: Beliefs in and desire for equality between the sexes. As Merriam-Webster noted last month: "the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities." It encompasses social, political, and economic equality. Of course, a lot of people tweak the definition to make it their own. Feminist activist bell hooks calls it "a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression." (USA Today Article)  

Femme: A gender identity where a person has an awareness of cultural standards of femininity and actively carries out a feminine appearance or role.

Filipinx: A person who is a national of the Philippines or a person of Filipino descent. Filipinx is a gender-neutral term used in place of Filipino or Filipina.

Finna: A phonetic way of saying “fixing to” or “about to do something” that’s often used in African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and in southern parts of the United States. Finna was added to in 2021.

First Nations People: Individuals who identify as those who were the first people to live on the Western Hemisphere continent; people also identified as Native Americans.

Folx: An umbrella term for people with non-normative sexual orientation or identity.

Gaslighting: A specific type of manipulation where the manipulator tries to get someone else (or a group of people) to question their own reality, memory, or perceptions. For example, "You are being overly sensitive."

Gay: Used in some cultural settings to represent men attracted to men in a romantic, erotic, and/or emotional sense. Not all men who engage in same-gender sexual behavior identify as gay, and as such, this label should be used with caution.

Gender: Social, cultural, and psychological traits linked to males and females define them as masculine or feminine.

Gender Expression: A person shows external displays of gender (masculine or feminine) based on one or more of the following:

  • dress
  • demeanor
  • social behavior

Genderfluid: A person who does not identify with the fixed gender binary and move within genders and gender stereotypes.

Genderqueer: A person who does not identify or express their gender within the gender binary. Those who identify as genderqueer may identify as neither men nor women may see themselves as outside of or between the gender binary or may simply feel restricted by gender labels.

Gender Identity: Refers to a person’s internal, deeply felt sense of being a man or woman, or something other or in between, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth; because gender identity is internal and personally defined, it is not visible to others.

Gender Spectrum: The idea that there are many different genders, besides male and female.

Greygender: A person with strong ambivalence about their gender identity and expression.

Greysexual (aka Graysexual): A person who has a limited feeling of sexual attraction.

Hate Crime: A criminal act directed at a person or group because of the victim's real or perceived race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or ability. 

Heterosexual: A person attracted to members of another sex or gender.

Homophobia: The fear or hatred of homosexuality (and other non-heterosexual identities) and persons perceived to be gay or lesbian.

Homosexual: A person who is attracted to members of their own sex or gender.

Host Culture: The dominant culture in a place people live in after leaving their home country.

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

Inclusion:  When people feel valued, respected, and part of a group. It is acts or practices that provide an equitable and fair distribution of resources and opportunities. Such acts and practices ensure that all members/affiliates of an organization can bring their authentic selves to work or activities if they choose to, fully leveraging their distinct traits and experiencing ownership and empowerment.

Institutional racism: Racism perpetuated by social and political institutions such as schools, the courts, and the military. Also referred to as systemic racism, it has the power to negatively affect the bulk of people belonging to a racial group. It can be seen in areas of wealth and income, criminal justice, employment, healthcare, housing, education, and politics. 

Intercultural Communication:  is the verbal and nonverbal interaction between people from different cultural backgrounds intended to lead to shared understandings of messages.

Intersectionality: The intertwining/overlapping of social identities such as gender, race, ethnicity, social class, religion, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity, which can result in unique experiences, opportunities, and barriers.

Intersex: An umbrella term that describes people born with any of 30 different variations in sex characteristics, including chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals.

Islamophobia: The fear, hatred of, or prejudice against the Islamic religion or Muslim peoples generally, usually leading to discrimination and stereotypes.

Latinx: A gender-neutral term for Latin Americans, but members of Latin LGBTQ communities have especially embraced it as a word to identify themselves as people of Latin descent possessing a gender identity outside the male/female binary.

Lesbian: Usually refers to a woman who has a romantic and/or sexual orientation toward women. Some nonbinary people also identify with this term.

LGBTQIA+: An inclusive term for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual. Some people also use the Q to stand for questioning, and the A to stand for asexual/aromatic/agender.

LGBTQI ALLY: Someone who confronts heterosexism, anti- LGBTQIA biases, heterosexual and cisgender privilege in themselves and others; believes that heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia are social justice issues.

MĀHŪ: (‘in the middle’) in Kanaka Maoli& (Hawaiian) and Maohi (Tahitian) cultures are third gender persons with traditional spiritual and social roles within the culture. Here are two videos to help you learn more about the Māhū culture.

Mansplain:  When men explain something to a person in a condescending or patronizing manner, typically a woman.

Marginalization: To exclude, ignore, or relegate a group of people to an unimportant or powerless position in society.

Marginalized Identities: The parts of who you are that are either legally protected by, for instance, Title VII laws in the United States (race, sex, religion, age, etc.), or any identity dimension that causes large parts of society to treat you as “less than,” or like a second class citizen, unequal to others.

Melting Pot: A metaphor people use to describe a society where various types of people blend together as one.

Microaggression: Daily behavior (verbal or nonverbal) that communicates hostile or negative insults towards a group, either intentionally or unintentionally, particularly culturally marginalized groups. A new term for microaggressions is subtle acts of exclusion (SAE). SAE is the subtle things that people say and do, perhaps unintentionally, that have the effect of excluding others based on their marginalized dimensions of identity.

Minoritized: When underrepresented groups are made to feel "less than."

Misogynoir: Misogyny directed toward black women. 

Misogyny: Hatred of women. 

Misandry: Hatred of men. 

Multiracial: A person who identifies as coming from two or more races; a person whose biological parents are of two or more different races.

Multiethnic: A person who identifies as coming from two or more ethnicities; a person whose biological parents are of two or more ethnicities.

MUXE: Derived from the Spanish word for woman (Mujer), muxes generally represent Mexican people who are assigned male at birth and identify as different genders. The iterations among the muxe community and their self-identifications vary – some identity as male but are female-expressing. In contrast, others identify as female and are more closely associated with Western culture’s understanding of transgender. Others defy gender entirely. But, in Mexican culture, the term “third gender” is often tacked to the muxe community. This video and article can help you learn more about muxe culture and identity. 

Non-Binary/Enby: A category for a fluid constellation of gender identities beyond the woman/man gender binary.

Neurodiversity: The concept that there is great variation in how people’s brains are wired and work regarding sociability, learning, mood, and other mental functions in a non-pathological sense.

On the Spectrum: On the spectrum refers to someone who is on the Autism spectrum or with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).

Oppositional Sexism: Oppositional Sexism is the belief that femininity and masculinity are rigid and exclusive categories.

Oppression: Systemic and institutional abuse of power by a dominant or privileged group at the expense of targeted, less privileged groups.

Outgroup Bias: When people view people from outside their “group” as less similar and have negative bias against them.

Oppression: An undeserved, intentional, or unintentional disadvantage is typically based on non-membership in a dominant social group. It is also exerting power over others in an unjust way to maintain one's own status.

Pansexual: A person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions.

Patriarchy: A hierarchical-structured society in which men hold more power.

Pacific Islander: Pacific Islander, or Pasifika, is a term that  refers to the indigenous inhabitants of the Pacific Islands, specifically people with origins whose origins from the following sub-regions of Oceania:

  • Polynesia
  • Melanesia
  • Micronesia

Pansexual: A person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions.

Passing: When a transgender person is perceived as the gender they identify as and not as a trans person.

Patriarchy: A social system where men hold power and authority.

People-First Language (PFL): Puts a person before a diagnosis or way of being. It describes what a person “has” rather than saying what a person “is.” (e.g., “person with a disability” vs. “disabled”)

People of Color: Used primarily in the United States to describe any person who is not white; the term is meant to be inclusive among non-white groups, emphasizing common experiences of racism.

Platinum Rule:  “The Platinum Rule” is an inclusionary take on the “Golden Rule” (instructing us to treat others how they want to be treated). The Platinum Rules urges people to ignore personal biases and treat others by how they feel they deserve to be treated).

Polyamory: The consensual practice of intimate relationships with multiple partners. All parties may be involved with each other or only with a specific person.

Polygender: A person with several gender identities.

Power:  The ability to influence others and impose one's beliefs. All power is relational. (in the context of diversity) is considered to be unequally distributed globally due to the following things:

  • wealth
  • whiteness
  • citizenship
  • patriarchy
  • heterosexism
  • education

Prejudice: Judging or forming an idea about someone or a group before you actually know them. Prejudice is often directed toward people in a certain identity group. 

Privilege: Any advantage that an individual or group has that eases (or does not hinder) their success, advancement, or path in life. 

Pronouns:  (in the context of diversity) are consciously chosen phrases that people use to represent their gender identity. There are certain pronouns to avoid “he” or “she,” especially during the hiring process or workplace.

Psychological Safety: A shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.

Queer: A multi-faceted word that is used in different ways and means different things to different people. 1) Attraction to people of many genders. 2) Don’t conform to cultural norms around gender and/or sexuality. 3) A general term referring to all non-heterosexual people. However, some within the community may feel the word has been hatefully used against them for too long and are reluctant to embrace it.

Questioning: An individual who is unsure of and/or exploring their gender identity and/or sexual orientation.

Race: Refers to the concept of dividing people into populations or groups based on various sets of physical characteristics that result from genetic ancestry. Sociologists use the concept of race to describe how people think of and treat groups of people, as people very commonly classify each other according to race (e.g., as African-American or as Asian). Most sociologists believe that race is not “real” because there are no unique or exclusive genetic or physical characteristics that truly distinguish one group of people from another; instead, different groups share overlapping characteristics.

Racial and Ethnic Identity: A person’s experience of being a member of an ethnic and racial group. Racial and Ethnic Identity is based on what a person chooses to describe themselves as based on the following:

  • biological heritage
  • physical appearance
  • cultural affiliation
  • early socialization
  • personal experience

Racial Justice: To reinforce policies, practices, actions, and attitudes that produce equal treatment and opportunities for all people.

Racial Profiling: The use of race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone has committed an offense.

Racism: The oppression of people of color based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy gives white people privilege.

Reclaimed Language: Language that has traditionally been used to degrade certain groups, but community members have reclaimed and used it as their own. For example, “queer” or “queen.”

Redlining: The systematic denial of various services by federal government agencies, local governments, and the private sector to residents of specific, most notably black neighborhoods or communities. Examples include the denial of loans, insurance, and healthcare.

Religion: A system of beliefs, usually spiritual in nature and often in terms of a formal, organized denomination.

Reparations: Anything paid or done to make up for a wrongdoing, or the act of making up for a wrongdoing. In the context of the United States, reparations indicate that compensation should be provided to the descendants of the enslaved from the Atlantic slave trade, ranging from individual monetary payments to land-based compensation.

Restorative Justice: An effort to repair the harm caused by crime and conflict related to bias or racism.

Reverse Racism: Perceived discrimination against a dominant group or majority.

Safe Space: An environment where everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves and participating fully without fear of attack, ridicule, or denial of experience.

Scapegoating: Blaming a person or group of people for something when the fault lies elsewhere. Scapegoating includes hostile words or actions that can lead to physical violence; a person is blamed for something because of some aspect of their identity, but they usually lack the power or opportunity to fight back. 

Scoliosexual (aka Scoliosexuality): A person who is attracted to people who are transgender or nonbinary.

Segregation: A systemic separation of people into racial or ethnic groups during the activities of daily life.

Self-stimulating/stimming: Behaviors used by people on the autism spectrum to assist with concentration or calming. (e.g., rocking back and forth, making noises, spinning, moving hands, or skipping)

Separation: When an individual or group rejects a host culture and maintains their cultural identity.

Sex: Separate from gender, this term refers to the cluster of biological, chromosomal, and anatomical features associated with maleness and femaleness in the human body. Sexual dimorphism is often thought to be a concrete reality, whereas, in reality, the existence of Intersex individuals points to a multiplicity of sexes in the human population. Sex is often used synonymously with gender in this culture. Although the two terms are related, they should be defined separately to differentiate the biological (“sex”) from the sociocultural (“gender”).

Sexism: The belief in the superiority of one sex over another. The most common is the idea that women are inferior.

Sexual Orientation: The gender(s) that a person is emotionally, physically, romantically, and erotically attracted to. Examples of sexual orientation include homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual, and asexual. Trans and gender-variant people may identify with any sexual orientation, and their sexual orientation may or may not change before, during, or after gender transition.

Sponsorship: An action by allies that are taken to advance the career of members of marginalized groups. These may include mentoring, protecting, or promoting.

Stereotype: The false idea that all members of a group are the same and think and behave in the same way. A stereotype represents the expectation that something is true about every member of that group.

Straight: A person who is attracted to a person of a different gender to their own.

Structural Racism: Sometimes called Institutional Racism, are institutional practices or policies create different outcomes for various racial groups. Structural Racism usually creates advantages for white people and oppression or disadvantages for people of color.

Social Construct: An idea that is not based on objective reality but that people think does reflect reality because it becomes part of the cultural common sense of what is real and how things work.

Social Identity: Involves how one characterizes oneself, the affinities one has with other people, the ways one has learned to behave in stereotyped social settings, the things one values in oneself and the world, and the norms that one recognizes or accepts governing everyday behavior.

Social Justice: Is both a process and a goal. The goal of social justice is full and equal participation of all groups in a mutually shaped society to meet their needs. Social justice includes a vision of society in which the distribution of resources is equitable, and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure.

Stereotyped Expectation: The assumption and expectation that people will behave according to the stereotype or trope associated with their identities.

Structural Exclusion: Inequality that is perpetuated because it is written into laws and policies.

Stud: A term originating within communities of color to describe a masculine identifying person assigned female at birth. Here is a study looking at the sexuality and gender construction of people who use ‘stud’ to describe their identity.

Systemic racism: Racism perpetuated by social and political institutions such as schools, the courts, and the military. Also referred to as institutional racism, it has the power to negatively affect the bulk of people belonging to a racial group. It can be seen in areas of wealth and income, criminal justice, employment, healthcare, housing, education, and politics.

Third Gender: A category of people who do not identify as male or female, but rather as neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.

Title IX: A part of US Federal Civil Rights Law (1972) protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. Some key issue areas in which recipients have Title IX obligations are recruitment, admissions, counseling; financial assistance; athletics; sex-based harassment, treatment of pregnant and parenting students, discipline, single-sex education, and employment. Also, a recipient may not retaliate against any person for opposing an unlawful educational practice or policy or made charges, testified, or participated in any complaint action under Title IX. 

Tokenism: Making symbolic and minimal gestures in offering opportunities to underrepresented groups.

Tolerance: acceptance and open‐mindedness to different practices, attitudes, and cultures; does not necessarily connote agreement with the differences.

Trans*/Trans+: An umbrella term for a person whose gender identity is not the same as their assigned sex. Avoid the outdated phrases: transvestite and transsexual.

Transmisogyny: A blend of transphobia and misogyny, which manifests as discrimination against "trans women and trans and gender non-conforming people on the feminine end of the gender spectrum." 

Transition/Transitioning: (in terms of diversity) is a process that people go through to change their physical appearance or gender expression through surgery or using hormones to align with their gender identity.

Transphobia: Prejudice toward trans people. 

Transgender: A person whose sense of personal identity or gender does not correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth or does not conform to gender stereotypes. Sexual orientation varies and is not dependent on gender identity.

Transsexual: Refers to a person who experiences a mismatch of the sex they were born and the sex they identify as. A transsexual sometimes undergoes medical treatment to change their physical sex to match their sex identity through hormone treatments and/or surgically. Not all transsexuals can have or desire surgery.

Trigger warning: A heads-up that is given about material they are going to see, read, or discuss that might trigger strong negative or upsetting reactions. It allows people to prepare themselves emotionally or to even remove themselves from the situation.

Two-Spirit: A phrase that refers to a person who is Native American that embodies both masculine and feminine genders.

Unconscious Bias (Implicit Bias): Social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.

Undocumented: A foreign-born person living in the United States without legal citizenship status.

Undocumented Student: School-aged immigrants who entered the United States without inspection/overstayed their visas and are present in the United States with or without their parents. They face unique legal uncertainties and limitations within the United States educational system.

Underrepresented Group: A subset of a population with a smaller percentage than the general population. For example, women, people of color, or indigenous people.

Veteran Status: Whether or not an individual has served in a nation's armed forces (or other uniformed services).

Victim-blaming: When the victim of a crime or harmful act is held fully or partially responsible for it. If you hear someone questioning what a victim could have done to prevent a crime, that's victim-blaming, and it makes it harder for people to come forward and report abuse.  

Victim-culture: The idea that people are too sensitive and claim victimhood whenever possible.

Whiteness: A broad social construction that embraces the white culture, history, ideology, racialization, expressions, and economic, experiences, epistemology, and emotions and behaviors and nonetheless reaps material, political, economic, and structural benefits for those socially deemed white.

White-Dominant Culture: What is considered "normal" by creating the standard for judging values, privileging individuals over groups, and assigning a higher value to some ways of behaving and knowing than others without considering the broad social-cultural differences that exist across communities and identifying markers. For example, white dominant culture presupposes that the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of white people are superior to people of color.

White Fragility: Discomfort and defensiveness on a white person when confronted with information about racial inequality and injustice.

White Privilege: A is the spillover effect of racial prejudice and White institutional power. It is unearned, and largely unacknowledged advantages based on race, which can be observed both systemically and individually. Peggy McIntosh coined the term and described it as " an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, assurances, tools, maps, guides, codebooks, passports, visas, clothes, compass, emergency gear, and blank checks." It means, for example, that a White person in the United States has privilege simply because one is White. As a member of the dominant group, a White person has greater access or availability to resources because of being White. It means that White ways of thinking and living are seen as the norm against which all people of color are compared. Life is structured around those norms for the benefit of White people. White privilege is the ability to grow up thinking that race doesn’t matter. It is not having to think about skin color and the questions, looks, and hurdles that need to be overcome because of one’s color. White Privilege may be less recognizable to some White people because of gender, age, sexual orientation, economic class, or physical or mental ability. Still, it remains a reality because of one’s membership in the White dominant group.

White Supremacy: The belief system that underlies the concept of whiteness--a historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations, and individuals of color by white individuals and nations of the European continent to maintain and defend a system of wealth, power, and privilege.

Wimmin: A nonstandard spelling of the word “women” used by feminists to avoid the word ending “-men.”

Woke: Rooted in black activist culture, it means you’re educated and aware, especially about injustice. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-CA., has told young people to “stay woke.” If you think about it in the context of women’s rights, look at the #SayHerName campaign, which works to raise awareness for black women victims of police brutality. 

Worldview: The perspective through which individuals view the world; comprised of their history, experiences, culture, family history, and other influences.

Womxn: A term sometimes used to replace the word women to get away from patriarchal language. Womxn is also meant to be inclusive of trans women and non-binary people, but it is not always accepted. Some say the word has evolved and is divisive, and “women” is more inclusive in the LGBTQ+ community.

Womyn: A nonstandard spelling of the word “women” used by feminists to avoid the word ending “-men.”

Workforce Diversity: Having a group of employees with similarities and differences like age, cultural background, physical abilities and disabilities, race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. 

Work-Life Effectiveness: A talent management strategy that focuses on doing the best work with the best talent regardless of the diverse aspects of individuals.

Workplace Inclusion: An intentional effort to create an atmosphere of belonging where all parties can contribute and thrive regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.

Xenophobia: Hatred or fear of foreigners/strangers or their politics or culture.

Zi/Hir: Gender-inclusive pronouns used to avoid relying on gender binary-based language or making assumptions about people’s gender.