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*** Please Note This compilation of terms is a tool, a guide to decipher some of the difficult language that is being used when discussing oppression. It has been compiled from various sources and is certainly not comprehensive. It isn't intended to create more boxes or represent everyone's experience. It is merely an attempt to provide the context(s) in which these terms are commonly used. The usage of these terms varies across communities. My intention is not to be limiting or to set up exclusive categories with these definitions.

A - F

    Ableism
    Adultism
    Affirmative Action
    Ageism
    Ally
    Anti-Racism
    Anti-Semitism
    Assimilation
    Bias
    Bigotry
    Biphobia
    Bisexual/Bi
    Class
    Class Ally
    Class Identity
    Class Privilege
    Classism
    Cross-Cultural Communication
    Cross-Dresser
    Cultur
    Discrimination
    Diversity
    Dyke
    Emigration
    Ethnicity
    Ethnocentrism
    Faggot/Fag
    Feminism
    Fluid Identity
    FtM/MtF

G - L
    Gay
    Gender
    Gender Binary/Gender Dualism
    Gender Identity
    Genderism
    Hegemony
    Heterogenity
    Heterosexism
    Heterosexual
    Hispanic
    Homogeneity
    Homophobia
    Homosexual
    Immigartion
    Internalized Classism
    Internalized Homophobia
    Internalized Racist Oppression
    Internalized Racial Superiority
    Intersections of Oppression
    Intersex
    Latin@
    Lesbian

M - R
    Minority Group
    Multicultural
    Multiple Identities
    Nationality
    Oppression
    Paternalism
    Patrirachy
    People (Person, American) of Color
    Power
    Prejudice
    Privilege
    Queer
    "Race"
    Racism
    Religion
    Religious Oppression

S - Z
    Sexism
    Sexual Orientation, Sexual Preference, and Sexual Object Choice
    Sexuality
    Stereotype
    Tokenizing
    Trans
    Transgender
    Transsexual
    Transphobia
    Transvestite
    Transmen/Transwomen
    White Guilt
    White Supremacy


Ableism

    is a pervasive system of discrimination and exclusion that oppresses people who have mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. Like other forms of oppression, ableism operates on individual, institutional and cultural levels. Deeply rooted beliefs about health, productivity, beauty, and the value of human life, perpetuated by the public and private media, combine to create an environment that is often hostile to those whose physical, emotional, cognitive, or sensory abilities fall outside the scope of what is currently defined as socially acceptable. No word perfectly describes what the range of people with disabilities experience. We use the terms ableism or disability oppression because they reflect the viewpoint that people with disabilities or with physical or mental limitations, are considered to be inadequate in meeting expected social and economic roles. See also: Ableism, Accessibility and Inclusion

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Adultism

    Oppression of Young People (from the day they are born), based on their age, by care givers (who are used as the oppression agents) and by the society and its institutions. Because of the long history of adultism and its pervasive nature in our societies, essentially all people suffer from this oppression, and the resulting internalized oppression and distress patterns are severe. The oppression is expressed, for example, by treating the young person as weak, helpless and less intelligent. For many, there is verbal or physical abuse and sexual abuse. Oppression of young people conditions them to accept all other oppressions that exist in the society. See also: Treating Children as Equals

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Affirmative Action

    refers to social policies encouraging favorable treatment of socially disadvantaged minority groups, especially in employment, education, and housing, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, in order to reverse historical trends of discrimination and to create equality of opportunity.

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Ageism

    is the pervasive oppression of people based on their age. Discrimination comes from the societal myth that older and younger people cannot perform certain cognitive or affective standards in the same way simply because they are younger or older. Therefore, based on people's ages, they have unfairly prescribed roles. See also: Prejudice against older people and Treating Children as Equals

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Ally

    A person who supports marginalized, silenced, or less privileged groups without actually being a member of those groups. This person will often directly confront and challenge systems of oppression.

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Anti-Racism

    more than an intellectual opposition to the principles of racial supremacy, it is the recognition of racism as part of institutional structures and the struggle to stop power and gain based on racism and/or race bigotry

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Anti-Semitism

    Prejudice and/or discrimination, either personally or institutionally, against Semitic people (mostly Jews). This can be based on hated against Jews because of their religious beliefs, their perceived group mentality, and sometimes on the erroneous belief that Jews are a "race". See also: How to strengthen the Palestine Solidarity Movement by making friends with Jews

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Assimilation

    Assimilation-from the Latin, assimilare, to make similar-is the process whereby newcomers to society are encouraged to give up their cultural way of life and accommodate as quickly as possible to values and culture of the host society. It is an ethnocentric, one-way process of cultural exchange, in that only the newcomer is expected to adapt, with the implied promise that group acceptance will be the social reward.

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Bias

    An inclination or preference either for or against an individual or group that interferes with impartial judgment.

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Bigotry

    An unreasonable or irrational attachment to negative stereotypes or prejudices.

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Biphobia

    The fear or hatred of bisexual people. This term addresses the ways that prejudice against bisexuals differs from prejudice against other queer people. There is often biphobia in gay, lesbian, and trans communities, as well as straight communities.

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Bisexual/Bi

    Someone who is or is capable of being attracted to members of both sexes or genders as prescribed by the binary gender system. Many people avoid this term because of its implication that there are only two sexes/genders to be sexually attracted to and thus reinforces the binary gender system.

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Class

    A class consists of a large group of people who occupy a similar economic position in the wider society based on income, wealth, property ownership, education, skills, or authority in the economic sphere. Class affects people not only on an economic level, but also on an emotional level.

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Class Ally

    A person from the more privileged classes whose attitudes and behaviors are anti-classist, who is committed to increasing his or her own understanding of the issues related to classism, and is actively working towards eliminating classism on many levels.

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Class Identity

    A label for one category of class experience, such as ruling class, owning class, middle class, working class, poor

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Class Privilege

    Fruits of the many tangible or intangible unearned advantages of "higher" class status, such as personal contacts with employers, good childhood health care, inherited money, speaking the same dialect and accent as people with institutional power.

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Classism

    Prejudice and/or discrimination, either personally or institutionally, against people because of their real or perceived economic status or background. See also: Confronting Classism

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Cross-Cultural Communication

    interaction between cultures resulting in an exchange of meaning through symbols and message systems.

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Cross-Dresser

    Someone who enjoys wearing clothing typically assigned to a gender that that individual has not been socialized as, or does not identify as. Cross-dressers are of all sexualities and do not necessarily identify as transgendered. "Cross-dresser" is frequently used today in place of the term transvestite.

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Cultur

    Culture is the sum total of human creations-material and non-material-that comprise the complex pattern of living that directs human social life, and is handed down through generations by communicative interaction rather than by genetic transmission.

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Discrimination

    Unequal treatment of people based on their membership in a group. In contrast to prejudice, discrimination is behavior. To discriminate is to treat a person, not on the basis of their intrinsic individual qualities, but on the basis of a prejudgment about a group. discrimination can be either de jure (legal as in segregation laws) or de facto(discrimination in fact without legal sanction.

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Diversity

    By "diversity" is meant all the differences that people bring to an organization or group. It has two dimensions: the primary or Horizontal (mainly biological, usually visible-the little memes: age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disabilities), and the secondary or Vertical (psycho-socio-spiritual, usually invisible-the big vMEMEs: values system, worldviews, mindsets, ethics, paradigms, core intelligences). These differences have the potential of giving rise to conflicts, but if managed well can result in a synergetic unity, where the effect of all working together is greater than the sum total of all the parts working independently.

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Dyke

    Used as a derogatory term applied to lesbian, bisexual, and queer women. Some have reclaimed this word as a symbol of pride and strength.

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Emigration

    To leave a country.

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Ethnicity

    A group of people thought to have (or believe they have) a common way of thinking, feeling and acting, based on a shared common geographic and social history.

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Ethnocentrism

    An attitude that one's own culture, society, or group is inherently superior to all others. Judging other cultures by your own cultural standards and since, of course, other cultures are different, they are therefore inferior. Ethnocentrism means an inability to appreciate others whose culture may include a different racial group, ethnic group, religion, morality, language, political system, economic system, etc. It also means an inability to see a common humanity and human condition facing all women and men in all cultures and societies beneath the surface variations in social and cultural traditions.

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Faggot/Fag

    Used as a derogatory term for gay, bisexual, and queer men. Some have reclaimed this word as a symbol of pride and strength.

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Feminism

    a term commonly and quite indiscriminately used. Some of the currently used definitions are: (a) a doctrine advocating social and political rights for women equal to those of men; (b) an organized movement for the attainment of these rights; (c) the assertion of the claims of women as a group and the body of theory women have created; (d) belief in the necessity of large-scale social change in order to increase the power of women.

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Fluid Identity

    The concept that identity is not rigid, but can and does change. This idea is often used in terms of gender, sexuality, and race, as well as other factors of identity. This concept is fundamentally contrary to binary systems. A person who feels her/his identity is fluid often believes that rigid catagories ar oppressive and incapable of accurately describing her/his experience and identities.

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FtM/MtF

    Two more genders. Also abbreviations used to refer to specific members of the trans community. FtM or F2M, stands for female-to-male, as in moving from the female pole of the spectrum to the male. MtF, or M2F, then, refers to people moving from the male location to the female. FtM is sometimes, though not always, synonymous with transman. Similarly, one who identifies as MtF might also identify as a transwoman.

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Gay

    Someone who is primarily and/or exclusively attracted to members of their own sex or gender. In certain contexts, this term is used to refer only to those who identify as men.

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Gender

    A. In its most accepted definition, gender refers to the social roles (e.g., men, women) and characteristics that develop through cultural interpretations of biological or anatomical sex. In this definition, sex is seen as natural, and gender as the social construction that stems from readings of sex. B. A societal construct referring to roles, characteristics, behaviors, appearances, and identities that develop through cultural interpretations of genetic sex. one's sense of being woman, man, girl, boy, androgynous, or something else entirely, or of being perceived as woman, man, etc.
    Related exercise: Learning Social Roles: Boy/Girl Piece

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Gender Binary/Gender Dualism

    A system that defines and make room for two and only two distinct, natural, and opposite genders (i.e., male and female). These two genders are defined in opposition to each other, such that masculinity and femininity are seen as mutually exclusive. In this system, there is no room for any ambiguity or intermingling of gender traits.

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Gender Identity

    The gender with which a person identifies, or is identified. This can be different from a person's assigned gender, which is determined as birth to be male or female or manipulated to resemble one or the other. It is important to note that gender identity, biological sex, and sexuality are not necessarily linked.

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Genderism

    is the systematic oppression of individuals whose actions, and other mannerisms, do not fulfill a society?s prescribed gender roles. Embedded in individual, cultural/societal, and institutional beliefs that there are, and should be, only two genders, genderism targets any individual who does not conform to ?acting like a boy? or ?acting like a girl.?

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Hegemony

    Total control of ideological, economic & military of a society by a person or particular group.

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Heterogeneity

    similar

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Heterosexism

    The concept that heterosexuality and only heterosexuality is natural, normal, superior, and required. This can refer to any institution or belief system that excludes or makes invisible questioning, lesbian, non-labeling, bisexual, transgender, queer, and gay people, as well as any system that constructs queer sexualities as deviant, wrong, or immoral. Heterosexism is deeply rooted in the culture and institutions in our society. Homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia all stem from and are supported by heterosexism. Heterosexism enforces and is enforced by a binary gender system. Binaries similarly enforce racism and other systems of power.

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Heterosexual

    A person who is primarily and/or exclusively attracted to members of a gender or sex which is seen to be "opposite" or other than the one with which they identify or are identified. See also: What is Heterosexual Privilege?

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Hispanic

    For a history of the term, read the article Hispanic vs. Latino

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Homogeneity

    different

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Homosexual

    A person who is primarily and/or exclusively attracted to members of what they identify as their own sex or gender. Because the term can have connotations of disease and abnormality, some people do not like to identify as homosexual. Others do not feel that it accurately defines their chosen identity.

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Homophobia

    The fear or hatred of gays, lesbians, or queer-identified people in general. This can be manifested as an intense dislike or rejection of such people, or violent actions against them. See also: Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism

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Immigration

    To arrive at a country.

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Internalized Classism

    The acceptance and justification of classism by working class and poor people. Examples include: feelings of inferiority to higher-class people; disdain or shame about traditional patterns of class in one's family and a denial of heritage; feelings of superiority to people lower on the class spectrum than oneself; hostility and blame towards other working-class or poor people; and beliefs that classist institutions are fair.

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Internalized Homophobia

    The fear or hatred of, or discomfort with one's own queer sexuality. Internalized homophobia is linked to low self-esteem and is presumed to be a contributing factor in the high rates of suicide among queer teens.

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Internalized Racist Oppression

    the internalization by people of color (POC) of the images, stereotypes, prejudices and myths promoted by the racist system about POC in this country. Our thoughts and feelings about ourselves, people of our own racial group or other POC are based on these racist messages we receive from the broader system. It is a multi-generational process.

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Internalized Racial Superiority

    a multigenerational process of receiving, acting on, internalizing, invisibilizing, and legitimizing a system of privilege.

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Intersections of Oppression

    These occur when an individual is defined by more than one oppressed element of their identity. Often these intersections are used to further oppress an individual; this manifests frequently in situations where an individual is forced to choose one oppressed element of their identity over another for political reasons.

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Intersex

    An anatomical variation from typical understandings of male and female genetics. The physical manifestation, at birth, of genetic or endocrinological differences from the cultural norm. Also a group of medical conditions that challenge standard sex designations, proving that sex, like gender, is a social construct. Intersex and transgender folks share some overlapping experiences and perspectives, but the terms are not synonymous, and the issues are not the same. "Intersex" or "intersexual" is used today in favor of the term "hermaphrodite".

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Latin@

    For a history of the term, read the article Hispanic vs. Latino

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Lesbian

    One who identifies as a woman who is primarily and/or exclusively attracted to others who identify as women.

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Minority Group

    A Minority Group is any group that is socially defined as different from the dominant group in society, is at a power disadvantage, receives less than its proportionate share of scare resources due to its power disadvantage, and finds its differential treatment justified in terms of socially define differences.

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Multicultural

    Many or multiple cultures. The United States is multicultural because its population consists of people from many different cultures.

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Multiple Identities

    The concept that a person's identity does not rest on solely one factor, e.g., sexual preference, race, gender, etc. Hence, no single element of one's identity is necessarily supreme, although certain identities can take precedence over others at certain times.

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Nationality

    A group of people thought to have (or believe they have) a common geo-political identity.

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Oppression

    1. Prejudice and power. 2. A systematic social phenomenon based on the difference between social groups that involves ideological domination, institutional control, and the promulgation of the oppressor group's ideology, logic system and culture on the oppressed group. The result is the exploitation of one social group by another for its own benefit, real or imagined.

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Paternalism

    more accurately Paternalistic Dominance, describes the relationship of a dominant group, considered superior, to a subordinate group, considered inferior, in which the dominance is mitigated by mutual obligations and reciprocal rights. The dominated exchange submission for protection, unpaid labor for maintenance. ....As applied to familial relations, it should be noted that responsibilities and obligations are not equally distributed among those to be protected: the male children's subordination to the father's dominance is temporary; it lasts until they themselves become heads of household. The subordination of female children and of wives is lifelong. Daughters can escape it only if they place themselves as wives under the dominance/protection of another man.

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Patriarchy

    In its narrow meaning, patriarchy refers to the system, historically derived from Greek and Roman law, in which the male head of the household had absolute legal and economic power over his dependent female and male family members. .....Patriarchy in its wider definition means the manifestation and institutionalization of male dominance over women and children in the family and the extension of male dominance over women in society in general. It implies that men hold power in all the important institutions of society and that women are deprived of access to such power. It does not imply that women are either totally powerless or totally deprived of rights, influence, and resources.

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People (Person, American) of Color

    The term people of color was adopted to refer in a positive way to all people who are not considered "white" by "white people." In American "racial" terms, it refers to any one who claims other than European ancestry on either side of their family. It is a proud heritage representing 80% of the world population (but only 20% of the U.S. American population).

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Power

    The ability to exercise control. Having access to systems and resources as legitimated by individuals and societal institutions.

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Prejudice

    A positive or negative attitude toward a person or group, formed without just grounds or sufficient knowledge--will not be likely to change in spite of new evidence or contrary argument. Prejudice is an attitude.

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Privilege

    An "unearned advantage" that works to "to systematically overempower certain groups" in society/the world. Privilege assigns dominance simply based on gender, race, sexuality, nationality, among other factors of identity. Privilege is "an invisible package of unearned assets" that members of privileged groups "can count on cashing in every day," but about which they "are meant to remain oblivious." (Peggy McIntosh, "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.")

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Queer

    An umbrella identity term encompassing lesbians, questioning people, gay men, bisexuals, non-labeling people, transgendered folks, and anyone else who does not strictly identify as heterosexual. "Queer" originated as a derogatory word. Currently, it is being reclaimed by some people and used as a statement of empowerment. Some people identify as queer to distance themselves from the rigid catagorizations of "straight" and "gay". Some transgendered, lesbian, gay, questioning, non-labeling, and bisexual people, however, reject the use of this term due its connotations of deviance and its tendency to gloss over and sometimes deny the differences between these groups.

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"Race"

    - it is NOT based on biology; it is a CREATED category with historical roots used to classify groups of people.
    - historically it was not determined by skin colour but by class inequalities (for example, the English defined the Irish as a "lower" race.)
    - during colonial expansion by European nations, race was defined in terms of skin colour where non-white people were considered "lower" races.
    - today, relationships between differently raced people are still determined by this moment in history and remain unequal, where white people have the most power and privilege and are considered the norm (ie. non-raced.)
    - it is important to understand that white is also a created racial category.
    - it is also important to understand that though racial categories derived from oppressive contexts, they can also be reclaimed and used as forms of resistance by communities of colour.

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Racism

    Racial and cultural prejudice and discrimination, supported intentionally or unintentionally by institutional power and authority, used to the advantage of one race and the disadvantage of other races. The critical element that differentiates racism from prejudice and discrimination is the use of institutional power and authority to support prejudices and enforce discriminatory behaviors in systemic ways with far- reaching outcomes and effects. See also: Unlearning Racism

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Religion

    A group of people thought to have (or believe they have) a common belief system concerning ultimate meaning at (usually) assumes the existence of the supernatural.

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Religious Oppression

    is the subordination, marginalization and persecution of an individual or group based on their religious or non-religious belief and/or practices. Occurring on the individual, cultural/societal, and institutional levels, religious oppression stems from opposing dualistic beliefs around religion, as well as certain teachings and traditions. Much like ethnocentrism, the dominant religious group of the society becomes engrained in its customs and traditions ? including those that are secular/non-religious (e.g. court system, swearing on the Christian Bible).

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Sexism

    Sexism is the outward manifestation of an inward system of values deliberately designed to structure privilege by means of an objective, differential, and unequal treatment of women, for the purpose of social advantage over scarce resources. This values system gives rise to an ideology of supremacy which justifies power of position by placing a negative meaning and value on perceived or actual biological/cultural differences.

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Sexual Orientation, Sexual Preference, Sexual Object Choice

    These terms refer to categories of sexuality, as indicated by the object of one's sexual desire (e.g., memebers of the "opposite sex/gender, member of any gender, etc.). "Sexual orientation" can imply biological roots of sexual attraction, whereas "sexual preference" and "sexual object choice" may connote an element of choice. Some people who see all these terms as loaded prefere the more general term "sexuality".

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Sexuality

    This term can be used as a general term to refer to sexual orientation, sexual object choice, or sexual preference. It can also be used to describe the nature of one's desire, e.g., SM, monogamy, polyamory, etc.

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Stereotype

    A set of beliefs, generalized about a whole group of people.

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Tokenizing

    The action of making a member of a marginalized and/or oppressed group a spokesperson for that entire group, usually for the benefit of a larger, more privileged group.

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Trans

    Abbreviation for transgender, transsexual, or some other form of trans identity. "Trans" can invoke notions of transcending beyong, existing between, or crossing over borders. See also the Transgender Terms Sheet

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Transgender

    This term has many definitions. It is frequently used as an umbrella term to refer to all people who deviate from their assigned gender or the binary gender system, including intersex people, transsexuals, cross-dressers, transvestites, gender queers, drag kings, drag queens, two-spirit people, and others. Some transgendered people feel they exist not within one of the two standard gender catagories, but rather somewhere between, beyong, or outside of those two genders. The term can also be applied exclusively to people who live primarily as the gender "opposite" to that which they were assigned at birth. These people may sometimes prefer the term "transsexual".

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Transsexual

    A perosn who has altered or intends to alter their anatomy, either through surgery, hormones, or other means, to better match their chosen gender identity. As a medical term, transsexual was coined in the 1950s to refer to individuals who desire not tonly to live as another gender, but also to change their bodies through surgery to reflect the gender that often feels more "natural" or authentic. This group of people is often divided into pre-op(erative), post-op, and non-op transsexuals. Due tot he high cost, not all transsexuals can have genital surgery. Others do not feel that surgery is necessary, but still maintain a transsexual identity.

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Transphobia

    The fear or hatred of transgendered and transsexual people. Like biphobia, this term was created to call attention tot he ways that prejudcie against trans people differs from prejudice against other queer people. There is often transphobia in gay, lesbian, and bisexual communities, as well as straight communities.

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Transvestite

    1. Two more gender categories. Also terms used to identify distinct members of trnas communities. Transwomen refers to transgendered women, or women whose history transcends the gender binary. Transmen, similarly, refers to transgendered men, or men whose history transcends the gender binary.
      A frequent response of white persons to learning about white privilege. White guilt makes white individuals feel shameful about the history of oppression of people of color and the role white persons have played in perpetuating that system, as well as their individual complicity with that system.
      A system, historically constructed by white peoples, European nations and the United States, to exploit and oppress nations and peoples of color. The point of the system is to maintain and perpetuate wealth, power and privilege for nations and peoples of European descent. White privilege is also a system, institutionally based, that (1) rewards and privileges white people solely because of their skin color and European origins; and (2) exempts whites and European-descended peoples from oppression. White supremacy anchors white privilege and racial oppression in our society, meaning that it is not simply about individual prejudice. Individual and organizational acts of racial prejudice are rooted in, and replicate, an entire social construct of white supremacy. See also: What is White Supremacy?
  1. See 'Cross-Dresser'

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    Transmen/Transwomen

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    White Guilt

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    White Supremacy

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