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Intersectional Terms

Intersectional Terms

Below is a list of selected terms related to queerness, transness, and marginalized identities as a whole. Consider this a jumping-off point; it is a place to start, but it is a by no means complete list.

Intersectional Terms


The quality of being able to do something. Ability is also a social identity. This identity encompasses the diverse differences in an individual's array of physical, mental, learning, and/or emotional capacity. (Source: Appalachian State University "Big 8 Identities") (See also: Disability)


The pervasive system of discrimination and exclusion that oppresses people who have mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. (Source: Rauscher and McClintock “Ableism Curriculum Design”)


Any attitude, action, or institutional structure which subordinates a person or group because of age, or any assignment of roles in society purely on the basis of age. (Source: Traxler “Let’s get gerontologist: developing a sensitivity to aging”)


An adjective used to describe a person whose neurology functions in a way that society deems to be acceptable or "the norm". A term used to call attention to the privilege of people who are not on the autism spectrum (Source: UC Davis “LGBTQ+ Glossary)

 is the action of working to end oppression through the support of, and as an advocate with and for, a group other than one's own. Being an ally is a lifelong process. It is not self-defined. The work and efforts must be recognized by those you are allies with. (Source: Forbes “Allyship- The Key To Unlocking The Power of Diversity”)

 “Autism is a neurological variation that occurs in about one percent of the population and is classified as a developmental disability. Although it may be more common than previously thought, it is not a new [neurological variation] and exists in all parts of the world, in both children and adults of all ages. The terms ‘Autistic’ and ‘autism spectrum’ often are used to refer inclusively to people who have an official diagnosis on the autism spectrum or who self-identify with the Autistic community. While all Autistics are as unique as any other human beings, they share some characteristics typical of autism in common:

  • Different sensory experiences

  • Non-[dominant] ways of learning and approaching problem-solving

  • Deeply focused thinking and passionate interests in specific subjects

  • Atypical, sometimes repetitive, movement

  • Need for consistency, routine, and order.

  • Difficulties in understanding and expressing language as used in typical communication, both verbal and non-verbal

  • Difficulties in understanding and expressing typical social interaction.”

(Source: Autistic Self Advocacy Network - ASAN

Body Image

Refers to how a person feels, acts and thinks about their body. Attitudes about our own body and bodies, in general, are shaped by our communities, families, cultures, media, and our own perceptions. Body image may be positive or negative. (Source: Medical News Today “What is body image?”) (See also: Positive Body Image and Negative Body Image)

Body Policing
Any behavior which (indirectly or directly, intentionally or unintentionally) attempts to correct or control a person's actions regarding their own physical body, frequently with regards to gender expression or size. (Source: ASC Queer Theory)
A learned set of values, beliefs, customs, norms, and perceptions shared by a group of people that provide a general design for living and a pattern for interpreting life. “Culture is those deep, common, unstated, learned experiences which members of a given culture share, which they communicate without knowing, and which form the backdrop against which all other events are judged.” (Source: UC Davis “LGBTQ+ Glossary" | E. Hall.)
Cultural Humility

An approach to engagement across differences that acknowledges systems of oppression and embodies the following key practices: (1) a lifelong commitment to self-evaluation and self-critique, (2) a desire to fix power imbalances where none ought to exist, and (3) aspiring to develop partnerships with people and groups who advocate for others on a systemic level. (Source: UC Davis “LGBTQ+ Glossary” | Melanie Tervalon & Jann Murray-García, 1998)

Disability (aka: (Dis)ability, Dis/ability)

A social construct that identifies any restriction or lack of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered “typical” for a human being given environments that are constructed for and by the dominant or “typical” person. There are diverse differences in an individual’s array of physical, mental, learning, and/or emotional capacity. A person is not their disability, condition, or diagnosis; a person has a disability, condition or diagnosis. Always check in with someone to find out their preferred language preferences, as some may prefer Person First Language or Identity First Language to reflect that their disability is an essential part of who they are. (Source: Appalachian State University “Big 8 Identities” | EMAC “People with Disabilities”)

Inequitable actions carried out by members of a dominant group or its representatives against members of a marginalized or minoritized group. It is harming someone’s rights because of who they are or what they believe. Discrimination is inherently harmful and promotes inequity. Discrimination may be direct (explicit) or indirect (not explicit, but disproportionately disadvantages a specific group (s). All individuals, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, ability, etc., deserve to be treated equally and not face discrimination. (Source: Amnesty International “Discrimination”)

A social construct which divides people into smaller social groups based on characteristics such as shared sense of group membership, values, behavioral patterns, language, political and economic interest, history, and ancestral geographical base.

Examples of different ethnic groups are but are not limited to:

  • Haitian

  • African American (Black)

  • Vietnamese (Asian)

  • Cherokee, Mohawk

  • Navajo (Native American)

(Source: Florida Tech “Culturally Competent Terms”)

The goal of equality is to receive the same treatment, opportunities, resources, etc. Equality focuses on fairness. However, equality does not take into account that certain identities and social groups may not receive the same treatment, opportunities, and resources. Thus, although everyone receives equal treatment, some individuals may still be at a disadvantage. (Source: Florida Tech “Culturally Competent Terms”) (See also: Equity)

Takes into consideration the fact that the social identities (race, gender, socioeconomic status, etc.) do, in fact, affect equality. In an equitable environment, an individual or a group would be given what was needed to give them an equal advantage. This would not necessarily be equal to what others were receiving. It could be more or different. Equity is an ideal and a goal, not a process. It ensures that everyone has the resources they need to succeed. (Source: Florida Tech “Culturally Competent Terms”) (See also: Equality)

Identity First Language

Identity first language puts the identity first in the description before the person. This identity may include a disability, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender. Some examples of identity first language are "Black woman" and "autistic person." Some individuals prefer to use identity first language that their identity is an essential part of who they are. However, some may not prefer identity first language because they find it minimizing. They are not their identity, their disability, condition; they simply have an identity, disability, or condition. Always check in with someone to find out their preferred language preferences. How a person chooses to self-identity is up to them, and they should not be corrected if they choose to use identity person language. (See also: Person First Language) (Source: EARN “Person First and Identity First Language")

Internalized Oppression
The fear and self-hate of one’s own target/subordinate identity/ies, that occurs for many individuals who have learned negative ideas about their target/subordinate identity/ies throughout childhood. One form of internalized oppression is the acceptance of the myths and stereotypes applied to the oppressed group.
A term made popular by law professor Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw in the 1980s to describe the way that multiple systems of oppression interact in the lives of those with multiple marginalized identities. Intersectionality looks at the relationships between multiple marginalized identities and allows us to analyze social problems more fully, shape more effective interventions, and promote more inclusive advocacy amongst communities.
​​Latinx (pronounced: “La-TEEN-ex” or “Latin-ex” )

An inclusive, gender-neutral way of referring to people of Latin American descent. Other commonly known ways of referring to people of Latin American descent are Latinos, Latinas, Latin@, Latina, and Latino. The “x” at the end replaces “o” and “a” which have been gendered suffixes, and it moves beyond terms like Latino/a and Latin@, which still reinforce a gender binary. More recently, the term “Latine” (pronounced “La-TEEN-eh”) has grown in popularity. (Source: PFLAG “PFLAG National Glossary of Terms”)

Lived Names (aka: Chosen Names, Names in Use)

 Lived Names/Chosen Names/Names in Use are used interchangeably to indicate names other than legal names that an individual uses. There are many reasons someone may use a lived name, such as to reflect their gender identity, use a nickname, or to go by an Americanized name. Lived names are often referred to as "preferred names," but one’s lived name is not a preference. It is a requirement to honor a person’s identity and to use the name by which they ask to be called. (Source: Johns Hopkins “Supporting Chosen Names and Pronouns”)


Brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults about one’s marginalized  identity/identities. (D.W. Sue)


Misogynoir emphasizes the intersections of misogyny and anti-Blackness, particularly towards Black cis women. (Source: Transgender Law Center “Black Trans Women and Black Trans Femmes: Leading & Living Fiercely")


The hatred of women. Misogyny can be expressed in different ways, such as demeaning comments. Misogyny primarily affects women and individuals perceived as feminine. (Source: Medium “What is Misogyny” | Merriam-Webster “Misogyny”)

Negative Body Image

Having a negative body image refers to feeling dissatisfied with one’s body. This person may compare themselves negatively with others, lack confidence, see parts of their body in a distorted way. They may act in a way that does not help their body; they may develop mental health issues or eating disorders related to their negative body image. A negative body image is shaped by communities, families, cultures, and our own perception. (Source: Medical News Today “What is body image?”)


Neurodiversity is a natural and valuable form of human diversity. It refers to the infinite variation of human brains, minds and neurocognitive functioning within our species. “Neurodiversity is not a trait that any individual possesses. Diversity is a trait possessed by a group, not an individual. When an individual diverges from the dominant societal standards of ‘normal’ neurocognitive functioning, they don’t ‘have neurodiversity,’ they’re neurodivergent” From Nick Walker (

“These differences can include those labeled with Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyscalculia, Autistic Spectrum, Tourette Syndrome, and others. For many autistic people, neurodiversity is viewed as a [fact] and social movement that advocates for viewing autism as a variation of human wiring, rather than a disease. As such, neurodiversity activists reject the idea that autism should be cured, advocating instead for celebrating autistic forms of communication and self-expression, and for promoting support systems that allow autistic people to live as autistic people.” From The National Symposium on Neurodiversity



“Neurodivergent, sometimes abbreviated as ND, means having a brain that functions in ways that diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of ‘normal.’ A person whose neurocognitive functioning diverges from dominant societal norms in multiple ways – for instance, a person who is Autistic, dyslexic, and epileptic – can be described as multiply neurodivergent. The terms neurodivergent and neurodivergence were coined by Kassiane Asasumasu, a multiply neurodivergent neurodiversity activist.” From Nick Walker (


“Neurotypical, often abbreviated as NT, means having a style of neurocognitive functioning that falls within the dominant societal standards of ‘normal.’ Neurotypical can be used as either an adjective (‘He’s neurotypical’) or a noun (‘He’s a neurotypical’).” From Nick Walker (


Exists when one social group, whether knowingly or unconsciously, exploits another social group for its own benefit.

Individual Level: Beliefs or behaviors of an individual person; conscious or unconscious actions or attitudes that maintain oppression.

Institutional Level: Institutions such as family, government, industry, education, and religion are shapers of, as well as shaped by, the other two levels. The application of institutional policies and procedures in an oppressive society run by individuals or groups who advocate or collude with social oppression produces oppressive consequences.

Societal/Cultural Level: Society’s cultural norms perpetuate implicit and explicit values that bind institutions and individuals; cultural guidelines, such as philosophies of life and definitions of good, normal, health, deviance, and sickness, often serve the primary function of providing individuals and institutions with the justification for social oppression.


Revealing a person’s sexual or gender identity, HIV status, or Immigration status without the person’s expressed consent or permission. Outing someone should never occur; it is a violation of privacy and an inherently harmful act. It removes the person’s choice to come out, and potentially puts their safety at risk. (Source: LGBTQ and ALL “What is Outing and Why is it Harmful?”)

Person First Language

Person first language emphasizes the person before their identity. This identity may include a disability, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender. Some examples of person first language are “women of color” and “person with a disability.”   Always check in with someone to find out their preferred language preferences, as some may prefer Identity First Language to reflect that their identity is an essential part of who they are. How a person chooses to self-identify is up to them, and they should not be corrected if they choose not to use first person language. (Source: EARN “Person First and Identity First Language") (See also: Identity First Language)

In terms of mental/emotional wellness - a phobia is a marked and persistent fear “out of proportion” to the actual threat or danger the situation poses after taking into account all the factors of the environment and situation. Historically this term has been used to inaccurately refer to systems oppression (i.e. homophobia has been used to refer to heterosexism).
Positive Body Image

Having a positive body image refers to feeling satisfied with one’s body. It includes accepting how the body looks, appreciating what the body can do, having a broad concept of beauty, and having a body image that is stable. Someone who has a positive body image understands that their self worth does not depend on their appearance. (Source: Medical News Today “What is body image?”)


A set of unearned benefits given to people who fit into a specific social group. These unearned benefits are given to and held by a group in power (or in a majority). They necessitate the oppression and suppression of minority groups in order to uphold these privileges. Privileges must be acknowledged, and may pertain to ability, class, education,  gender, sexuality, race, religion, and more. This concept has roots in W.E.B DuBois’ work on “psychological wage” and white people’s feelings of superiority over Black people. Peggy McIntosh wrote about her privilege as a white woman and developed an inventory of unearned privileges that she experienced in daily life because of her whiteness. (Source:  UC Davis “LGBTQ+ Glossary" | Rider University “Privilege and Intersectionality” | Peggy McIntosh “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”) (See also: White Privilege

A social construct that divides people into distinct groups based on characteristics such as physical appearance, ancestral heritage, cultural affiliation, cultural history, ethnic classification, based on the social, economic, and political context of a society at a given period of time.
The systematic subordination of marginalized racial groups (Indigenous/Native American, Black, Chicanx, Asian, Pacific Islander, and non-white Latinx people, non-white Middle Eastern people, etc.) who have relatively little social power in the United States, by members of the agent/dominant/privileged racial group who have relatively more social power (white).
A personal or institutionalized system of beliefs and practices concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, often grounded in belief in and reverence for some supernatural power or powers; often involves devotional and ritual observances and contains a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
The pervasive system of discrimination and exclusion that oppresses people who have bodies that society has labeled as “overweight,” as well as people of short stature. Fat oppression, more specifically, highlights the ways that Fat people experience and navigate a world and institutions that are not built with their histories, needs, and body size in mind. This often takes the form of labeling these bodies as unhealthy, undesirable, and lazy and fails to complicate narratives around health and healthy living.
Social Identities
Social identity groups are based on the physical, social, and mental characteristics of individuals. They are sometimes obvious and clear, sometimes not obvious and unclear, often self-claimed, and frequently ascribed by others.
Social Justice

A goal and a process in which the distribution of resources is equitable in a society and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. Begins with an acknowledgment that oppression and inequity exist and must be actively dismantled on all levels. (Adams, Bell, & Griffin.)

Socio-Economic Class

Social group membership based on a combination of factors including income, education level, occupation, and social status in the community, such as contacts within the community, group associations, and the community's perception of the family or individual.

Having to do with deep feelings and convictions, including a person’s sense of peace, purpose, connection to others, and understanding of the meaning and value of life; may or may not be associated with a particular set of beliefs or practices.

A generalization applied to every person in a cultural group; a fixed conception of a group without allowing for individuality. When we believe our stereotypes, we tend to ignore characteristics that don’t conform to our stereotype, rationalize what we see to fit our stereotype, see those who do not conform as “exceptions,” and find ways to create the expected characteristics.


Regardless of one’s background and status, one is perceived by other people as white. This does not mean that one internally identifies as white, and does not mean they want to be perceived as white; it is a circumstantial experience. One may not be actively trying to pass as white, but they are granted White Privilege for being white-appearing. (See Also: White-Passing) (Source: Raven Schwam Curtis, “White Passing Versus White Appearing: What’s the Difference?”


“The additional privilege some people of color are afforded when some of their features, such as skin color or hair texture, cause them to be [taken] as white”. White-passing individuals are using their agency to be perceived as white, so that they may be granted privileges, generally for survival, that would not be granted to them if they were seen as part of their marginalized racial identity. While not always, this is usually an act of survival. (See also: White-Appearing) (Sources: Fem Magazine, “Feminism 101: What is White Passing Privilege?”,;  Raven Schwam Curtis, “White Passing Versus White Appearing: What’s the Difference?”,

White Privilege

A set of unearned and unquestioned advantages, entitlements, benefits, and choices bestowed on people simply because they are white. Generally, white people who experience such privilege do so without being conscious of it. Despite white people being unconscious of their privilege, they may still benefit from and act in ways that uphold it. Peggy McIntosh wrote about her privilege as a white woman and developed an inventory of unearned privileges that she experienced in daily life because of her whiteness. (Source: UF “Terminology” | Peggy McIntosh “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”) (See also: Privilege


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