An adjustment made to policies, programs, and/or practises to enable individuals to benefit from
and participate in the provision of services equally and perform to the best of their ability.
Accommodations are provided so that individuals are not disadvantaged on the basis of the
prohibited grounds of discrimination identified in the Ontario Human Rights Code or other similar
codes. Accommodation with dignity is pursuing the principle that our society should be
structured and designed for inclusiveness.
A person who works to end a form of oppression that gives them privilege(s). Allies listen to,
and are guided by, communities and individuals affected by oppression. Forms of oppression
include: ableism, ageism, audism, classism, biphobia, homophobia, transphobia, racism,
sexism, and others.
Beliefs, actions, policies and movements developed to actively identify and eliminate prejudice,
stereotyping, and discrimination on the basis of race.
A person who experiences little or no sexual attraction to people of any gender.
A person who is attracted to people of more than one gender.
Negative attitudes, feelings, or irrational aversion to, fear or hatred of bisexual people and their
communities, or of behaviours stereotyped as bisexual, leading to discrimination, harassment or
violence against bisexual people.
A person whose gender identity is in alignment with the sex they were assigned at birth.
Cisnormativity refers to the commonplace assumption that all people are cisgender and that
everyone accepts this as “the norm.” The term cisnormativity is used to describe systemic
prejudice against trans people. This form of systemic prejudice may go unrecognized by the
people or organizations responsible.
A system of oppression that considers cis people to be superior to trans people. It includes
harmful beliefs that it is “normal” to be cis and “abnormal” to be trans. Examples include
scrutinizing the genders of trans people more than those of cis people or defining beauty based
on how cis people look.
The process of focusing on and devaluing people’s differences in order to dominate and control
them, including various economic, political and social policies by which a powerful group
maintains or extends control over other people or areas.
The ability to maintain an interpersonal stance that is oriented towards the perspective of
another person. Involves conscious reflection on one’s own perspective and biases as well as
openness to another person’s perspective in order to effectively communicate across difference.
Under the medical model, this term refers to a limitation or loss of physiological abilities,
whether apparent or not. These can be physical, cognitive, learning, and visual disabilities.
Under the social model, disability is identified as a disadvantage or restriction of activity caused
by systemic barriers, negative attitudes, and exclusion by society.
Any form of unequal treatment based on a ground protected by human rights legislation, that
results in disadvantage, whether imposing extra burdens or denying benefits. Discrimination
can be intentional or unintentional; and it may occur at an individual or systemic level. It may
include direct actions or more subtle aspects of rules, practices and procedures that limit or
prevent access to opportunities, benefits, or advantages that are available to others.
A group that is considered more powerful and privileged in a particular society or context and
that has power and influence over others.
Drag Queen/Drag Queen
Someone who uses extreme gender presentation and plays on stereotypes as a basis for
performance pieces. Drag performers can be of any gender identity or sexual orientation.
Duty to Accommodate
The legal obligation that employers, organizations, service providers and public institutions have
under human rights legislation to ensure fair and equal access to services in a way that respects
the dignity of every person, if to do so does not create undue hardship. The principle of dignity
strives to maximize integration and promote full participation in society, in consideration of the
importance of privacy, confidentiality, comfort, autonomy, individuality and self-esteem.
The practice of ensuring equal treatment to all people, without consideration of individual and
The practice of ensuring fair, inclusive and respectful treatment of all people, with consideration
of individual and group diversities. Access to services, supports and opportunities and attaining
economic, political and social fairness cannot be achieved by treating individuals in exactly the
same way. Equity honours and accommodates the specific needs of individuals/ groups.
A socially defined category or membership of people who may share a nationality, heritage,
language, culture, and/or religion.
A person who is attracted to people of the same gender.
Gender can refer to the individual and/or social experience of being a man, a woman, or neither.
Social norms, expectations and roles related to gender vary across time, space, culture, and
Genderqueer (or Non-Binary)
Individuals who do not follow gender stereotypes based on the sex they were assigned at birth.
They may identify and express themselves as “feminine men” or “masculine women” or as
androgynous, outside of the categories “boy/man” and “girl/woman.” People who are non-binary
may or may not identify as trans.
A social system whereby people are thought to have either one of two genders: “man” or
“woman.” These genders are expected to correspond to birth sex: male or female. In the gender
binary system, there is no room for living between genders or for transcending the gender
binary. The gender binary system is rigid and restrictive for many people whose sex assigned
at birth does not match up with their gender, or whose gender is fluid and not fixed.
How a person publicly expresses or presents their gender. This can include behaviour and
outward appearance such as dress, hair, make-up, body language, and voice. A person’s
chosen name and pronoun are also common ways of expressing gender. All people, regardless
of their gender identity, have a gender expression and they may express it in any number of
A person’s internal and individual experience of gender. It is a person’s sense of being a
woman, a man, both, neither or anywhere along the gender spectrum. A person’s gender
identity may be the same as or different from their sex assignment at birth.
The gender binary influences what society considers “normal” or acceptable behaviour, dress, appearance, and roles for women and men. Gender norms are a prevailing force in our everyday lives. Strength, action, and dominance are stereotypically seen as “masculine” traits, while vulnerability, passivity, and receptiveness are stereotypically seen as “feminine” traits. A woman expressing masculine traits may be chastised as “overly aggressive,” while a man expressing “feminine” traits may be labelled as “weak.” Gender norms can contribute to power imbalances and gender in equality in the home, at work, and in communities.
The culturally and historically specific expectations and restrictions that are placed on a person based on whether they are assigned female or male at birth. Can be empowering, oppressive, or neutral.
The representation of gender as a continuum, as opposed to a binary concept.
A course of comments or actions, such as unwelcome attention, jokes, threats, remarks, name calling, touching or other behaviours that are known, or ought reasonably to be known, to be
unwelcome, offensive, embarrassing, humiliating or demeaning. Harassment under human
rights legislation is based on the prohibited/protected grounds.
Criminal acts which promote hatred against identifiable groups of people, motivated by bias,
prejudice or hate. Although individuals and groups that promote this destructive form of human
rights-based discrimination often defend their right to “free speech,” it is a criminal offense to
disseminate hate propaganda and/or to commit hate crimes
Refers to the commonplace assumption that all people are heterosexual and that everyone
accepts this as “the norm.” The term heteronormativity is used to describe prejudice against
people that are not heterosexual, and is less overt or direct and more widespread or systemic in
society, organizations, and institutions. This form of systemic prejudice may even be
unintentional and unrecognized by the people or organizations responsible.
The assumption that everyone is heterosexual and that heterosexuality is superior and
preferable. The result is discrimination against bisexual, lesbian and gay people that is less
overt, and which may be unintentional and unrecognized by the person or organization
Negative attitudes, feelings, or irrational aversion to, fear or hatred of gay, lesbian, or bisexual
people and communities, or of behaviours stereotyped as “homosexual.” It is used to signify a
hostile psychological state leading to discrimination, harassment or violence against gay,
lesbian, or people.
The universal entitlement that all people should have access to freedom, justice and protection
from discrimination and harassment, and that people should have equal access to a climate that
preserves that dignity and worth of individuals and groups.
An approach that aims to reach out to and include all people, honouring the diversity and
uniqueness, talent, beliefs, backgrounds, capabilities and ways of living of individuals and
An umbrella term for self-identified descendants of pre-colonial/pre-settler societies. In Canada
these include the First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples as separate peoples with unique
heritages, economic and political systems, languages, cultural practises, and spiritual beliefs.
While the collective term has offered a sense of solidarity among some indigenous
communities, the term should not serve to erase the distinct histories, languages, cultural
practices, and sovereignty of the more than fifty nations that lived in Canada prior to European
When members of a marginalized group accept negative aspects of stereotypes assigned to
them by the dominant group, and begin to believe that they are inferior. The incorporation by
individuals within an oppressed group of the prejudices against them within the dominant
society can result in self-hatred, self-concealment, fear of violence, feelings of inferiority,
resignation, isolation, and powerlessness. It is a mechanism within an oppressive system for
perpetuating power imbalance.
A term coined by black feminist legal scholar Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe the ways in
which our identities (such as race, gender, class, ability, etc.) intersect to create overlapping and
interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.
A person born with sex characteristics (chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals) that
do not fit the typical medical definitions of male or female bodies.
A woman who is attracted to women.
The hatred and denigration of women and characteristics deemed feminine.
Men who have sex with men.
Alternative pronouns that are gender neutral and preferred by some non-binary and gender
diverse persons. Some examples are “ze/hir” and “ey/em”, etc.
An umbrella term for gender identities that fall outside of the man-woman binary.
The obvious and subtle ways dominant groups unjustly maintain status, privilege and power
over others, using physical, psychological, social, or economic threats or force. Frequently, an
explicit ideology is used to sanction the unfair subjugation of an individual or group by a more
powerful individual or group, which causes injustices in everyday interactions between
marginalized groups and the dominant group.
A person who is attracted to other people regardless of gender.
The experience of being viewed as something by other people in a given context. Meaning
varies depending on the context in which it is used. Trans people use the word ‘passing’ to
mean being perceived by others as the gender they identify and/or present as. A person with a
disability who is not currently using a mobility device may experience ‘passing’ as able-bodied.
A gay man who comes across as stereotypically masculine may experience ‘passing’ as straight
despite not identifying that way.
The practice, state or ability of having more than one intimate, sexual and/or romantic
relationship at the same time.
Access to privileges such as information/knowledge, connections, experience and expertise,
resources and decision making that enhance a person’s chances of getting what they need to
live a comfortable, safe, productive, and profitable life. Each person has different levels of power
in different contexts depending on a personal combination of privileges and oppression.
An abbreviation referring to an HIV positive person.
Unearned power, benefits, advantages, access and/or opportunities that provide unfair
advantage for members of the dominant group(s) in society. People are not always aware of the
privileges they have. Examples include: cissexual privilege, straight privilege, male privilege,
An umbrella term used and reclaimed by some whose sexual orientations and/or gender
identities fall outside of cisgender/straight norms.
A period where a person explores their own sexual identity, orientation, and/or gender.
Culturally or socially constructed divisions of humankind, are based on distinct characteristics that
can be based on: physicality, culture, history, beliefs, and practices, language, origin, etc. Racial
discrimination is prohibited within Canada as part of the Canadian Human Rights Act, and the
United Nations has a committee devoted to the elimination of racial discrimination.
The classification of people as either male, female, or intersex. Sex is usually assigned at birth
and is based on an assessment of a person’s reproductive systems, hormones, chromosomes,
and other physical characteristics.
The direction of one’s attraction. Some people use the terms gay, straight, bi, pan, or lesbian to
describe their experience.
An attitude that promotes and embraces the diversity of human sexuality, focusing on;
advocating for a consent-oriented culture, safe sex awareness, and comprehensive sex
education that incorporates unbiased methods in its approach.
Social Determinants of Health
Things that are needed for people to avoid illness and to be physically, mentally and socially
healthy (e.g. income, employment, housing, access to services).
A concept based on a vision of society in which the distribution of resources is equitable and
individuals and groups are given equal opportunity, fairness, civil liberties, and participation in
the rights, freedoms, and responsibilities valued by society.
When a trans person is not “out” about being trans in their social circles (with friends,
employers, colleagues). There are many different levels of being stealth, but in some cases a
trans person may need to end contact with those who once knew them as their assigned at birth
sex, move to new locations, or get a new job. These changes are significant, and may be due to
personal reasons or based on physical, cognitive and/or emotional safety.
A person who is attracted to people of the opposite gender.
The practice of making a symbolic effort towards involving an underrepresented group of
individuals under the guise of inclusivity or equality, and is often seen within a group, committee,
organization, or workplace. The action itself or the type of involvement of the underrepresented
is limited, and the false appearance of inclusivity or equality can then be used to promote a false
appearance that hides deeper systemic issues within the organization.
An umbrella term referring to people whose gender identities differ from the sex they were
assigned at birth. “Trans” can mean transcending beyond, existing between, or crossing over
the gender spectrum. It includes but is not limited to people who identify as transgender,
transsexual, non-binary or gender non-conforming (gender variant or genderqueer).
Refers to a range of social, legal, and medical changes that some trans people may pursue to
affirm their gender identity.
A person who was assigned female at birth and identifies as a man.
Negative attitudes, expressed through cultural hate, individual and state violence, and
discrimination directed toward trans women and trans and gender non-conforming people on
the feminine end of the gender spectrum.
Negative attitudes and feelings and the aversion to, fear or hatred or intolerance of trans people
and communities. Like other prejudices, it is based on stereotypes and misconceptions that are
used to justify discrimination, harassment and violence toward trans people, or those perceived
to be trans.
A person whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth. They may or may not
undergo medically supportive treatments to align their bodies with their gender identity, such as
hormone therapy, sex reassignment surgery or other procedures or changes. This term is dated
and can be considered offensive if someone does not use it to refer to themselves.
A person who was assigned male at birth and identifies as a woman.
An umbrella term encompassing gender and sexual diversity in Indigenous communities. Two
Spirit people often serve integral and important roles in their communities, such as leaders and
healers. There are many understandings the term Two Spirit – and this English term does not
resonate for everyone. Two Spirit is a cultural term reserved for those who identify as Indigenous.
Women who have sex with women