People are so complex that it is impossible to whittle them down to simple definitions. While it is understood people should not see one another in terms of labels, there needs to be a basic understanding of each others' differences. The diversity dictionary is meant to serve as a means to educate. If you have any recommendations or suggestions for changes, email



Adrogyne/Adrogynous/Adrogyny (n) – 1. A person whose biological sex is not readily apparent, whether intentionally orunintentionally. 2. A person whose identity is between the two traditional genders. 3. A person who rejects gender roles entirely.

African American (n) - 1. Refers to Black individuals living in the United States with African ancestry. 2. Refers to individuals of African heritage living in the United States having similar experiences, culture heritage and ancestry of former slaves. 3. (adj) - Relating to the culture of African Americans.

Agism (n) - Discrimination of individuals based on their age, i.e. of the elderly based on the notion that they are incapable of performing certain functions such as driving, or of the young based on the notion that they are immature and therefore incapable of performing certain tasks.

Ally (n) - An individual that supports the struggles of a group; not part of the group him/herself.

Antisemitism(or Anti-Semitism) (n) - Hatred toward Jews; prejudicial belief in the "racial" or religious inferiority of Jews. The term itself was first used in 1879.

Asian American – 1. (n) Refers to individuals living in the United States with Asian ancestry. 2. (adj) Relating to the culture of Asian Americans.

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Bigendered/Dual Gendered (v) – A person who possesses and expresses a distinctly masculine persona and a distinctly feminine persona. Is comfortable in and enjoys presenting in both gender roles.

Biological Sex (n) – Classifies a person through any combination of body type, chromosomes (genetics), hormones, genitals, and reproductive organs.

Bisexual (n) - Individuals attracted to members of all genders.

Butch (adj) – 1. Masculine or macho dress and behavior, regardless of “sex” or “gender-identity.” 2. A sub-identity of lesbian or gay based on masculine or macho dress and behavior.

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Class (n) - Category of division based on economic status; members of a class are theoretically assumed to possess similar cultural, political and economic characteristics and principles.

Classism (n) - Discrimination based on class.

Cross Dresser (n) – One who enjoys dressing as the gender opposite to that which matches their biological sex.

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Diaspora (n) - A historical dispersion of a group of people deriving from similar origins, i.e. the African Diaspora includes African Americans, Africans, Caribbeans, Afro-Russians, Black Brazilians, Afro Latinos etc.

Disadvantaged (adj) - 1. A historically oppressed group having less than sufficient resources to fund all of basic needs; without expendable income. 2. A group characterized by disproportionate economic, social, and political disadvantages.

Discrimination (n) - A biased decision based on a prejudice against an individual group characterized by race, class, sexual orientation, age, disabilities, etc . . .

Diversity (n) - A situation that includes representation of multiple (ideally all) groups within a prescribed environment, such as a university or a workplace. This word most commonly refers to differences between cultural groups, although it is also used to describe differences within cultural groups, e.g. diversity within the Asian-American culture includes Korean Americans and Japanese Americans. An emphasis on accepting and respecting cultural differences by recognizing that no one culture is intrinsically superior to another underlies the current usage of the term.

Drag Queen/King (n) – A man or woman dressed as the opposite gender, usually for the purpose of performance or entertainment. Many times overdone or outrageous and may present a “stereotyped image.”

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Emigrant (n) - One who leaves his/her country of origin to reside in a foreign country.

Essentialism (n) - The practice of categorizing a group based on an artificial social construction that imparts an "essence" of that group, which homogenizes the group and effaces individuality and difference.

Ethnicity (n) - A quality assigned to a specific group of people historically connected by a common national origin or language. Ethnic classification is used for identification rather than differentiation.

Ethnocentrism (n) - A practice of unconsciously or consciously privileging a certain ethnic group over others. This involves judging other groups by the values of one's own group.

Eurocentrism (n) - The practice of consciously or unconsciously privileging the culture of Europe over othercultures.

European American - 1. (n) An individual living in the United States with European ancestry. 2. (adj) - Relating to the culture of European Americans.

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F to M / FTM / F2M – Female to male. Abbreviation used to specify the direction of sex or gender role change, usually used by those who identify as transsexual.

Feminism (n) - Movement advocating equal rights, status, ability, and treatment of women, based on the belief that women are not in any way inferior to men.

Femme (adj) – 1. Feminine or effeminate dress and behavior, regardless of “sex” or “gender-identity.” 2. A sub-identity of lesbian and gay based on feminine or effeminate dress and behavior.

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Gay – 1. (n) People whose sexual and romantic feelings are mostly for the same gender: men who are attracted to men, and women who are attracted to women. Gay is a term that generally refers to males. 2. (adj) Pertaining to homosexuality.

Gender (n) - System of sexual classification based on the social construction of the categories "men" and "women," as opposed to sex, which is based on biological and physical differences, which form the categories “male”, and "female."

Gender Assignment (v) – The cultural assignment of a person’s gender, usually at birth. In western culture this is typically done by physicians by observation of the sex organs at birth.

Gender Attribution – The way we perceive others’ gender, which affects the way we relate to that person, typically without thought.

Gender Bending (v) – Dressing or behaving in such a way as to question the traditional feminine or masculine qualities assigned to articles of clothing, jewelry, or mannerisms.

Gender Blending (v) – The crossing or challenging of traditional gender boundaries.

Gender Fuck – Presentation of extremely conflicting gender characteristics.

Gender Identity – Characterization of an individual who identifies with a gender, which is out of synch with their biological sex.

Gender Roles (n) – Sex role behaviors that a culture assigns to a given gender. Jobs, economic roles, chores, hobbies, dress, parenting, etc.

Glass Ceiling (n) - Term for the maximum position and salary some claim minorities and women are allowed to reach without any chances of further promotion or advancement within an employment scenario.

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Hermaphrodite (n) – A person who is biologically intermediate between male and female. (a). “True hermaphrodite” – a person with both ovarian and testicular tissue, i.e. a person with ambiguous gonads. (b). “Pseudo-hermaphrodite” – a person with two ovaries or two testes, but ambiguous genitals. The term “Intersexual” is now commonly preferred.

Heterosexism (n) - Social structures and practices which serve to elevate and enforce heterosexuality while subordinating or suppressing other forms of sexuality.

Heterosexual (adj) - Pertaining to individuals attracted to the opposite sex.

Hispanic American - 1. (n) Individuals living in the United States with ancestry from Hispanic, that is Spanish or Portuguese, speaking countries. 2. (adj) - Pertaining to Americans with direct ancestry from Hispanic, or Spanish or Portuguese speaking countries.

Hispanic American (n) - Individuals living in the United States with ancestry from Hispanic, that is Spanish or Portuguese, speaking countries.

Homosexual (adj) - Individuals attracted to members of one's own gender.

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Immigrant (n) - A person who resides in a nation, country, or region other than that of his/her origin. Also known as nonnative, outlander, outsider, alien, etc . . . (ant. emigrant)

Indigenous (adj.) - Originating from a culture with ancient ties to the land in which a group resides.

Intersexual (n) – A person who is biologically intermediate between male and female. Formerly known as hermaphrodism, it is an umbrella term used for several conditions that result in individuals having partially or fully developed sex organs of both genders.

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Jew(s) (n) - members of a people based on a background of shared historical experience and of religious heritage (Judaism). Membership is through birth or conversion. Not all Jews are religious. Most North American Jews are descended from immigrants from Eastern Europe. Jews can be understood in both ethnic and religious terms.

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Latino/a (n) - Individual living in the United States originating from, or having a heritage relating to Latin America.

Lesbian – 1. (n) Term used to refer to women whose sexual and romantic feelings are mostly for the same gender. 2. (Adj) - Pertaining to female homosexuality.

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Minority (n) - Term used to describe a group that represents a relatively smaller percentage of the overall population of a nation/state/ continent etc.

Multiculturalism (n) - The practice of acknowledging and respecting the various cultures, religions, races, ethnicities, attitudes and opinions within an environment.

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National origin (n) - System of classification based on nation from which a person originates, regardless of the nation in which he/she currently resides.

Native-American (adj) - Refers to the descendants of the various indigenous populations that occupied the land now designated America.

Neo-Colonialization (n) - Term for contemporary policies adopted by international and western "1st world" nations and organizations that exert regulation, power and control over poorer "3rd world" nations disguised as humanitarian help or aid. These policies are distinct from but related to the "original" period of colonization of Africa, Asia, and the Americas by European nations.

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Oriental (adj) - Relating to or deriving from the language, traditions, or cultures of the peoples of Asian nations in the region designated as "the Orient," or "the East," by Europeans. This term is conspicuously euro centric as "the East" is constructed as being opposed to a fixed reference point, "the West," or Western Europe.

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Pan-Africanism (n) - 1. Describes the theory relating to the desire to educate all peoples of the African Diaspora of their common plight and of the connections between them, e.g. a problem faced by one group affects the lives of other groups as well. 2. Theory relating to the desire to link all African countries across the continent through a common government, language, ideology, or belief.

People of color (n) - A term used to describe all non-white racial or ethnic groups.

Prejudice (v) - Exerting bias and bigotry based on uniformed stereotypes.

Privilege (n) - Power and advantages benefiting a group derived from the historical oppression and exploitation of other groups.

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Queer – An umbrella term that can refer to anyone who transgresses society’s view of gender or sexuality. The definitional indeterminacy of the word Queer, its elasticity, is one of its constituent characteristics: “A zone of possibilities.”

Questioning – A term used to refer to an individual who is uncertain of her/his sexual orientation oridentity.

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Race (n) - 1. Classification of humans based on genetic characteristics. 2. Classification of people based on common nationality, history, or experiences.

Racism (n) - An act of discrimination based on an ideology of racial superiority.

Religion (n) - 1. An organized belief system based on certain tenets of faith. 2. A belief in a supreme supernatural force or god(s)

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Sex (n) – 1. System of sexual classification based on biological and physical differences, such as primary and secondary sexual characteristics, forming the categories "male" and "female" as opposed to gender which is based on the social construction of the categories "men" and "women." 2. A classification based on reproductive biology. Most people think of sex as wholly bipolar, with male and female as the only possibilities; more precisely, it is a continuum with most individuals concentrated near the poles.

Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS) – A surgical procedure, which changes one’s primary sexual organs from one sex to another.

Stereotype (v) - To categorize people based on an artificial construction of a certain group designed to impart the "essence" of that group, which homogenizes the group, effacing individuality and difference.

Social Constructionism (n) - A perception of an individual, group, or idea that is "constructed" through cultural and social practice, but appears to be "natural," or "the way things are." For example, the idea that women "naturally" like to do housework is a social construction because this idea appears "natural" due to its historical repetition, rather than it being "true" in any essential sense.

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Tolerance (n) - Acceptance and open-mindedness to different practices, attitudes, and cultures; does not necessarily mean agreement with the differences.

Transgender – An umbrella term for people who transgress society’s view of gender as necessarily fixed, unmoving, and following from one’s biological sex. Transgendered people can include transsexuals, cross-dressers, drag kings/queens, masculine women, feminine men, and those who defy what society tells them is appropriate for their gender.

Transsexual – One who identifies as a gender other than that of their biological sex.

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