Want to be a better ally to other groups but don’t know your ABCs from your LGBTs? It’s never too late to learn!

Our friends from Gef.im have put together this handy guide to some terms you may frequently come across when discussing diversity in society.


For a start – LGBTQIA+ is an umbrella term that seeks to encompass as many different queer identities as possible into one big community. It basically includes anyone who doesn’t fit into the categories of ‘straight’ and ‘cisgender’ (more on that later!). 

This includes those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual – but there are many more identities too, hence the plus.


So, what’s discrimination then? Well that basically means when we treat people unequally based on conscious or unconscious prejudice. Essentially, we might not even mean to be doing it! 

People can discriminate against others on a whole range of factors, not just sexual orientation or race. It can also cover things like gender, economic class, disabilities, age, or even religion.

Sexual orientation

Sexual orientation refers to how we are physically, romantically or emotionally attracted to another person. This isn’t the same as gender identity, even though it’s in the same umbrella term as aforementioned.

Gender identity

What’s gender identity then? Well, this refers to how we perceive ourselves. Are we male, female or something else, like non-binary, which basically means you don’t fit into either neat label or maybe feel like your gender is a bit more fluid. 


Transgender people tend to feel they are different than whatever sex they were assigned at birth – that their external body doesn’t match up with what how they perceive themselves internally. They may access hormone therapy or even gender affirming surgeries to transition – to make what they look like on the outside, match what they feel on the inside.


You may have heard the term cisgender mentioned when discussing transgender issues in the news or when speaking to people. This just means that your gender identity ‘matches up’ with what you were assigned at birth.

For example, you were determined to be a girl when you were born – and that still holds true as an adult.


What happens when all of these various identities collide? That’s intersectionality. This term recognises that we’re all made up of multitudes – we have a gender identity, a race, a class status, a marital status and maybe even a religious identity. The ways these cross over and impact our lives is known as being intersectional.

Cultural appropriation

Some other buzz words bouncing around the news and on social media in recent years are cultural appropriation. What does this mean and why does it rule out that costume you’re debating for Hop-tu-Naa later this year? Well this basically is the wrong use of cultural symbols or customs for purposes they weren’t designed for. 

It’s taking something deeply sentimental or important to a race, religion or culture and using it without understanding why that may be wrong. Certain items of clothing, for example, are nothing more than fabric for one group, but may be deeply significant or even sacred for another. 

Institutional racism

Institutional racism, meanwhile, refers specifically to the ways in which race is ingrained into how the world works. 

A hangover of colonialism, institutional policies and practices often create different outcomes and opportunities for different groups, and the same is not always expected from all groups, whether intentional or not. You often hear this brought up in terms of hiring in companies, and even treatment in healthcare. 

Unfortunately, the world is designed to work well for the cisgender white male above everyone else – and we’ve not unlearned that just yet.

This is designed to be a short guide – so doesn’t cover everything in great detail. This Mongoose encourages wider reading! Don't stop with our hot takes at gef.im, the internet is your oyster.