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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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They don't want to go to Chelsea
Unlike some academics, I've always had a lot of time for Wikipedia. It can be a great place to begin research, I tell my students, though it's a bad place to finish. I've chipped in a few pounds whenever Jimmy Wales's face has appeared at the top of a page asking me for cash.

It's disappointing, then, to find that, having been one of the first organizations to respect Chelsea Manning's statement regarding her gender and name - a move that has since been followed, with varying degrees of completeness and good grace, by much of the world's media - Wiki has now reverted to calling her "Bradley", at least for the next 30 days.

Behind this reversion lies an intense and sometimes acrimonious debate amongst Wikipedia editors and admins. I don't pretend to understand the rather Byzantine process by which disputes are resolved within Wiki, but the conversation is an object lesson in how cissexism works today, amongst people who no doubt think of themselves as tolerant and open minded. The dismissal of the well-documented evidence of the harm done to trans people, both psychological and in terms of physical threat, by misgendering, as well as the underlying assumptions that for trans people (as opposed to, say, Lady Gaga, John Wayne and the Duchess of Cambridge) self-determination is in the gift of the cis majority, here wearing the baggy cloak called "consensus", and that Wiki editors with no experience in the subject are better placed to pronounce on trans issues than trans people - well, it's all rather depressing. Next time sunny Jim comes calling, my donation will be going elsewhere - probably to Trans Media Watch.

I know someone who was a serious and hard-working editor of Wikipedia until he* was consistently and viciously trolled and caught in edit wars because he was open about his genderqueer gender identity and his feminism. I know a straight cisgender former Wikipedia editor who found and provided evidence, supplied by Carter's closest friend and bandmate, that singer Dave Carter was in the process of transition and taking estrogen at the time of death. All my cis friend's edits to this effect were consistently removed, allegedly because his evidence wasn't strong enough, but clearly because the other editors didn't understand or respect the concept of being transgender. So Wikipedia's collective ignorance on trans issues has been going on for years, because although individual editors have fought for trans issues, a mass of privileged heteronormative cis guys have yelled them down. Crowdsourcing: sources the ignorance of crowds.

*Current preferred pronoun; at the time, he identified as outside the gender binary, and I don't recall what pronouns he used then

I know a straight cisgender former Wikipedia editor who found and provided evidence, supplied by Carter's closest friend and bandmate, that singer Dave Carter was in the process of transition and taking estrogen at the time of death. All my cis friend's edits to this effect were consistently removed

You're right: it's mentioned in an adjunct article, but nowhere in the article actually about Carter. Whose songs I love. Aaaargh.

(no subject) - rymenhild, 2013-09-02 06:38 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2013-09-02 06:44 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - sovay, 2015-03-11 04:51 am (UTC)(Expand)
- rymenhild, 2015-03-11 08:59 pm (UTC)(Expand)
Yuck. But on the other hand, thanks for introducing me to Dave Carter!

(no subject) - sovay, 2013-09-02 06:49 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2013-09-02 06:50 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - sovay, 2013-09-06 05:29 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2013-09-06 07:16 am (UTC)(Expand)
Have to say that wiki is a disaster area for historical research- it tends to repeat all the lazy assumptions caused by a refusal to return to primary sources.

Being written out of existence online? Well, there's a novelty! :oS

It can be a great place to begin research... though it's a bad place to finish.

This, in spades. Wiki is too random to be considered reliable.

It depends very much on what sort of stuff you tend to look up. There are a lot of pockets of excellence that haven't attracted anyone with silly theories. My sister says there are great swaths of very accurate info in her field (microbiology), for instance, though I would predict that anti-vaccinators go after certain articles regularly.

(no subject) - readthisandweep, 2013-09-03 09:41 am (UTC)(Expand)
Thanks for writing this.

I'm going to continue to engage with the project, to try and get it fixed. I wish I could say I was optimistic about that.

I wish you luck!

Having been campaigning on this issue for the better part of forty years I find it gets more, not less depressing as the years go by!

Happy to help, if help I have!

What seems to be going on in the section you link to is that Wales is hairsplitting over whether calling a transgendered person by the abandoned name is an act of violence or not. Either way, it's a side point to the glaring fact that Wikipedia accepts all kinds of ridiculous adopted names without having to vote on whether they're acceptable.

And, by the way, since the pro-change writer cited the Duchess of Cambridge as someone whose choice of changed name was accepted without a demur, I note that media writers are constantly still referring to her as Kate Middleton, and this doesn't cast doubt on what her right moniker is.

By the way, have you looked at your Wikipedia entry?

By the way, have you looked at your Wikipedia entry?

I try not to think about it! My entry was created by an old friend - who nevertheless cut off contact with me when I transitioned. Later (but before said transition) I edited it to give it neutral pronouns, etc., but some time after that it was the site of a ridiculous edit war between a couple of Wiki people who tried to assess whether I was worthy of inclusion by counting how many libraries held my books, and then decided to move all that data into the entry itself (re-introducing gendered pronouns in the process). It's a total mess, in short. Like my website, it's on the list of "Things I'll deal with when I have the reserves to do so."

(no subject) - kalimac, 2013-09-02 07:39 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2013-09-02 09:02 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kalimac, 2013-09-02 10:11 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - ethelmay, 2013-09-02 11:09 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2013-09-03 07:23 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2013-09-03 07:23 am (UTC)(Expand)
A few friends have been speaking of this with him in terms of what is helpful and unhelpful. I think he'd prefer to be helpful, fwiw.

(I'm David Gerard, the other Wikipedia admin who moved the article to Chelsea. I am also presently attempting to work within the process to get this fixed. I think I can say it's no secret that a lot of Wikimedia Foundation staff and board members are bloody horrified about this, and do appreciate that it's just as if people had voted 250-200 in favour of endorsing gross racism as policy.)

(no subject) - kalimac, 2013-09-03 10:27 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - reddragdiva, 2013-09-03 10:42 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - kalimac, 2013-09-03 11:10 am (UTC)(Expand)
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - reddragdiva, 2013-09-03 01:45 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2013-09-03 04:31 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - ethelmay, 2013-09-03 09:10 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - reddragdiva, 2013-09-03 10:43 am (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - steepholm, 2013-09-03 10:51 am (UTC)(Expand)
(Deleted comment)
In this case at least, it's clearly WP rather than WMF, which is at least slightly reassuring.

(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - cmcmck, 2013-09-03 04:22 pm (UTC)(Expand)
(no subject) - reddragdiva, 2013-09-03 08:44 pm (UTC)(Expand)