Artists and authors: a forum against transphobia on Wikipedia

Gender bias and other demonstrations of sexism do not spare Wikipedia. Besides the content of some articles and the majority of men contributing to the online encyclopedia, the volume of articles dedicated to male personalities is significantly higher than those dedicated to women or people belonging to the LGBT community. And, on these few occurrences, misgendering and other blunders such as the use of ” deadname » [le nom assigné à une personne transgenre à sa naissance, et donc abandonné ensuite] are debated.

Last June, the other comic strip Jul’ Maroh (Blue is a warm colour) reported his misgenering and the repeated use of his ” deadname on the Wikipedia page dedicated to him. In an Instagram post, he explained: [J]I’m still shaking, since yesterday. There is a transphobic and violent situation regarding my gender identity and my name on Wikipedia. It’s not just about me, but also about how transgender people are treated on this encyclopedia. »

Two other authors also report the presence of their “deadname” on the page dedicated to them on Wikipedia. Sabrina Calvo who, among other things, received the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire in 2018 with her novel Toxoplasma, published by La Volte. But also Axelle Lenoir, Canadian cartoonist and cartoonist who, in addition to her “deadname”, sees a pre-transition photo appear on the page.

A lack of diversity

For Jul ‘Maroh then begins a long work of research and a real fight to restore the truth. He will find support from other transgender personalities agreeing to testify. The collective long forum published this week by The Obs result of these weeks of research for ” demonstrate the extent of the phenomenon and its repetitive aspect “.

The forum begins by recalling that 80% of the platform’s contributors are men. She also cites the initiative of the project of the group The Pageless, initiated by the French-speaking Wikipedia. The latter was born from an observation: in 2016, ” more than 85% of biographies in French were biographies of men “. It is inspired by the English-language Women in Red and Art+Feminism projects. He reports on his page on the evolution of the proportion of representation: “ In September 2022, Wikipedia in French has 537,192 biographies of men, against 128,966 of women, or only 19.336%. »

Then, the collective recalls the various moral violence observed against trans, non-binary and intersex people: “ Spousing, deadnaming, maintenance of pre-transition photo portraits, harassment of trans personalities to offer them appointments with the aim of “verify their identity”intimidation of wikipedists who denounce moral violence against us, attempt to delete articles if the moral relentlessness does not succeed, temporary or permanent blocking of user accounts, withdrawal of articles concerning us from certain portals […] “.

Wikipedia has not yet responded to the group’s requests. Similarly, the forum highlights the absence of ” training or conclusive recommendation page to understand transgender issues in today’s world.

Confusing or non-existent guides

On the Wikipedia page on writing a biography of a living person, the French guide to writing style makes no mention of gender issues. He simply clarifies that the tone ” must be neutral and factual “.

On the other hand, its Anglophone counterpart, the Manual of styling, offers another perspective: a whole section is devoted to gender identity. There is even mention of the conduct to be followed when citing the “deadname” of trans or non-binary people. ” If a transgender or non-binary person was not notable under a previous name, they should not be included on any page, even as a citation, even if there are reliable sources “.

For people who have known fame before coming out, the treatment is quite different. “ The former name of a transgender or non-binary person should be included in the first sentence of the article on their main biography only if they were notable under it. Then follow the examples of Chelsea Manning and, more recently, actor Elliot Page.

A debate that does not date from yesterday

Chelsea Manning is known as the source of Wikileaks. In 2013, the editorial staff of its Wikipedia page stirred up the site’s arbitration committee, causing a real split. Should we use the “deadname” of the latter or not? The debate led to a number of editors being banned from working on articles related to trans subjects or people for discriminatory speech, recalls an article by the Guardian.

The demands and demands are clear for the collective behind the podium: “We expect the entire French-speaking Wikipedia to take real measures so that no pre-transition photos and no deadnames are used in public articles without the consent of the trans or intersex person concerned.»

Elements of investigations and conclusions drawn from research were transmitted “to interested journalists, to the Defender of Rights and to the Trust & Safety organization which monitors respect for human rights within Wikipedia“.

Photo credits: illustration, demonstration during the World Day against LGBTIphobia, in 2012 (LGBTI75, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Artists and authors: a forum against transphobia on Wikipedia

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