Glossary of Terms
Here is a collection of terms that will help you to better navigate this project. The below definitions are meant to briefly address terms related to gender but not meant to exclusively define or explain them as several of these words label ever-changing communities. We encourage you to read these definitions, consider how you define these words, and pay attention to how you see and perceive them in your own community.
If you think these definitions could be better, or if something has been missed, please contact us.
- Cisgender and cissexual: Those who identify with the gender and/or sex they are assigned at birth.
- Evangelicalism: A Protestant branch of Christianity that has been prominent in the United States since the Great Awakening. The largest concentration of Evangelicals is found in the United States and is associated with politics and social issues. Evangelical “in the original sense of the word [is] a life-giving word, good news, a joyful announcement.”2
- Feminism: "Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression,"3 which affects all people. (This movement includes many branches and histories - Black, Chicana, Brazilian, Indian, anti-racist, liberal, radical, etc)
- Forgiveness: The chosen work to repair and reconcile relationships in which you have harmed or been harmed; promoted in Evangelical and Feminist communities.
- Gender: The word “gender” describes a person’s gender identity (ex/ female, male, both, or neither), their gender expression and gender roles (whether they act feminine, masculine, both, or neither), or the privileges, assumptions, expectations, and restrictions they face due to the sex others perceive them to be.1
- Gender Queer: "Those who identify outside of the male/female binary."1
- Intersectionality: Based on the belief that people belong to more than one community, intersectionality is the theory that people experience multidimensional aspects of their identities and discrimination. A term coined by civil rights activist, theorist, and Feminist, Kimberlé Crenshaw, it encourages us to reflect on how violence, poverty, race and ethnicity, and sexuality are experienced differently by different people and in different situations.
- Intersex: "Those who are born with a reproductive anatomy that does not fit the typical definitions of female or male."1
- Sex: The word "sex” commonly refers to whether a person is physically male and/or female. "Because the physical traits that we most often take into account when describing “sex” are biological in origin there is a tendency to see sex as being a “natural” aspect of gender. However... Cultural expectations and assumptions play a large role in shaping how we determine and consider sex." The word “sex” primarily refers to a person’s physical femaleness and/or maleness, but can also refer to the social and legal classes that are associated with a person's physical sex.1
- Systems of Power: Systems of power are the structures that interconnect and oppress or privilege people in ways that are out of their control. For example, racism, sexism, xenophobia, heterosexism, ageism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism all privilege a group of people with a certain identity, or perceived identity, and oppress another group in ways that are not the fault of individual action. Intersectionality helps us see how these oppressions and privileges connect.
- Transgender: “Now that we understand “sex” and “gender,” we can begin to consider the word transgender, which is perhaps one of the most confusing and misunderstood words in the English language. While the word originally had a more narrow definition, since the 1990s it has been used primarily to describe those who defy societal expectations and assumptions regarding femaleness and maleness; this includes people who are transsexual (those who live as members of the sex other than the one they were assigned at birth), intersex, and gender queer, as well as those whose gender expression differs from their anatomical or perceived sex (including cross dressers, drag performers, masculine women, feminine men, and so on).” 1
- Womanism: "A social change perspective rooted in Black women’s and other women of color’s everyday experiences and everyday methods of problems solving in everyday spaces, extended to the problem of ending all forms of oppression for all people, restoring the balance between people and the environment/nature, and reconciling human life with the spiritual dimension.”4
1. Ideas and direct quotes from: Serano, Julia. Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and th Scapegoating of Femininity. Cambridge, MA: Seal Press, 2007.
2. Boff, Clodovis and Leonardo Boff. Introducing Liberation Theology. Kent, England: Burns and Oates, 1987. P. 90.
3. hooks, bell. Feminism is for Everybody: Pasionate Politics. Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2000.
4. Phillips, Layli, ed. A Womanist Reader. London: Routledge, 2006.