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Definitions continued

Indigenous persons: Indigenous persons includes those who are part of the Indigenous communities of Turtle Island and those who identify as Aboriginal, Métis, First Nations, and Inuk/Inuit. Within each of these terms are multiple unique and overlapping histories, identities, and traditions. The term Indigenous seeks to encompass a people with a collective history of existing prior to, experiencing oppression from, and ongoing resistance from colonialism.

Racialized persons: can include all non-white communities. However, due to the distinct forms of oppression experienced by Indigenous and Black communities, placing them within the term ‘racialized’ risks erasing these realities. For this reason, we try to be specific about which and how communities are impacted by different issues discussed.

Cis- : the prefix cis identifies people whose gender aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth. Ex. a cis-man is someone who was deemed “a boy” at birth and continues to feel comfortable and happy identifying their gender as a man.

Trans-: the prefix trans describes people whose gender is different than the sex they were assigned at birth. Ex. someone might be trans and non-binary, meaning they do not align with their assigned sex from birth, nor are they a man or woman, or they might be a transwoman, meaning they do not align with their assigned sex from birth, and they are a woman. Note: sometimes people describe (for example) a transwoman as someone who “identifies as a woman.” While this phrasing may feel okay for some transwomen, we encourage participants to remember that transwomen do not only “identify as women,” but that they are women. As such, it is more inclusive to not use the words “identify as,” and instead use “is a woman.”

Intersex: intersex includes a variety of circumstances in which the genitalia (reproductive organs) of a person does not fit strictly into either mainstream expectation of “male” or “female” genitalia. As described by the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) “[like the color spectrum] nature presents us with sex anatomy spectrums. Breasts, penises, clitorises, scrotums, labia, gonads—all of these vary in size and shape and morphology. So-called “sex” chromosomes can vary quite a bit, too. But in human cultures, sex categories get simplified into male, female, and sometimes intersex, in order to simplify social interactions, express what we know and feel, and maintain order. So nature doesn’t decide where the category of “male” ends and the category of “intersex” begins, or where the category of “intersex” ends and the category of “female” begins. Humans decide.” For more information on intersex identity, take a look at the ISNA’s website and FAQs.

Criminalization: Criminalization is the process of making people or activities “criminal,” and naturalizing this criminality – as if it is inherently true that the activity or person is criminal. It is a way of making us believe that something is “bad” because it is “criminalized.” This typically happens through law, policy, and the language used by the people in power to describe situations and people. Common examples include the creation of laws that restrict and control how, where, when, who, and why someone may be involved in:

  • sex work (ex. if sex work is illegal, those who take part in sex work become “criminals” in the eyes of law and society at large)
  • substance use (ex. if a substance is illegal, the person using the substance becomes “criminal”)
  • citizenship (ex. the phrase “illegal immigrants” criminalizes those who move across borders without documents)
  • panhandling (ex. if it is illegal to do subsistence work like panhandling, this criminalizes those who panhandle, who are often unhoused and/or unemployed members of our communities)

Stigmatization: Stigmatization is the exclusion, disapproval, or discrimination against someone due to perceived social attributes. Someone may be stigmatized for their gender, sexuality, race, culture, mental/emotional health, occupation, or activities they take part in. Stigmatization often occurs on a broad societal level and is reinforced by laws, policies and people in power. Stigmatization can be the direct result of criminalization or from mainstream narratives more broadly.

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