Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Gender identity

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This is both a collection of information on Wikipedia's gender identity guidelines, including a table of community discussions, and draft working towards gaining wider attention and consensus.

Current guideline[edit]

Main biographical article on a person whose gender might be questioned
Give precedence to self-designation as reported in the most up-to-date reliable sources, even when it doesn't match what is most common in reliable sources. When a person's gender self-designation may come as a surprise to readers, explain it without overemphasis on first occurrence in an article.
Any person whose gender might be questioned should be referred to by the pronouns, possessive adjectives, and gendered nouns (for example "man/woman", "waiter/waitress", "chairman/chairwoman") that reflect that person's latest expressed gender self-identification. This applies in references to any phase of that person's life, unless the subject has indicated a preference otherwise. Avoid confusing constructions (Jane Doe fathered a child) by rewriting (e.g., Jane Doe became a parent). Direct quotations may need to be handled as exceptions (in some cases adjusting the portion used may reduce apparent contradictions, and "[sic]" may be used where necessary). MOS:MULTIPLENAMES calls for mentioning the former name of a transgender person if they were notable under that name. In other respects, the MoS does not specify when and how to mention former names, or whether to give the former or current name first.
Referring to the person in other articles
Use context to determine which name or names to provide on a case-by-case basis. Generally, do not go into detail over changes in name or gender presentation unless they are relevant to the passage in which the person is mentioned.


  1. When choosing how to refer to a transgender subject, consider the use-mention distinction. Before using a transgender person's former or legal name, consider only mentioning it instead. And before mentioning it, consider not including it at all. For example, the article Switched-On Bach mentions but doesn't use Wendy Carlos's former name: "Switched-On Bach is the first studio album by the American composer Wendy Carlos, released under her birth name Walter Carlos".
  2. Before including a transgender subject's former name inline, consider including it as a footnote instead. In the article about The Matrix the writers/directors are credited as the Wachowskis with a footnote adding that they were originally credited as The Wachowski Brothers.
  3. If a transgender subject's former or legal name is not well known or widely reported, don't include it, even if it appears in a few reliable sources.
  4. Avoid using an out-of-date, pre-coming-out photo of a transgender subject as a lead image. If no other photos are available, it is generally better to have no lead image at all. In general, avoid using pre-coming-out photos unless the subject's pre-transition appearance is especially well-known and notable. The article about The Wachowskis, for example, is better without any pre-coming-out photos since the way they looked is not well known as they shied away from public appearances. Conversely, the Caitlyn Jenner article does contain photos from before her transition because she was a well known Olympic athlete, so her appearance at the time is relevant to the article, though none are in the lead section.
  5. If consensus cannot be reached over which pronouns to use for a subject, rewriting to avoid pronouns altogether may be considered. However, this can make the article very awkward or confusing to read and therefore should only be done as a last resort


Discussion timeline[edit]

A central table of community discussions on gender identity from throughout Wikipedia. For anyone interested in discussing or changing our gender identity guidelines, it's helpful to become familiar with prior discussions on the topic. (Requests for Comment and Requested Moves are in bold.)

Date Y/M Subsection Page Conclusion/Notes
2004/6 Trans people and pronouns Manual of Style/Biography The use of pronouns on the article Patrick Califia was discussed, but not concluded. The main propositions were to use only masculine pronouns or feminine pronouns when referring to time before Patrick's transition and masculine after. Discussion was primarily about clarity for the reader e.g.: alignment with Patrick's presentation and the (then) recency of his transition. Patrick's identity was also discussed in terms of how it might make Patrick feel (who was contacted but didn't seem to reply) and respect for his current identity.
2006/1 Identity Manual of Style First instance of gender identity guidance. Original wording: Where known, use terminology that subjects use for themselves (self identification). This can mean calling an individual the term they use, or calling a group the term most widely used by that group. This includes referring to transgender individuals according to the name and pronoun they use to identify themselves.
2007/4 Transgender pronoun / identity Manual of Style
2007/8 Pronouns Chevalier d'Éon
2007/9 Transgender pronoun issue Manual of Style
2008/8 Gender Manual of Style
2009/2 Gender of gender-ambiguous persons Manual of Style
2009/6 Gender pronouns Manual of Style
2010/6 HTML comment for trans women Village pump
2010/6 Manning's sexuality/gender identity Chelsea Manning
2010/9 It is relevant that Manning is transgender Chelsea Manning
2011/4 Pronouns Sonia Burgess
2011/8 Renée Richards, and Gender Identity Manual of Style
2011/12 Singular They use because the subject prefers to use gender neutral pronouns Manual of Style
2012/5 Fundamental problems with MOS:IDENTITY Village pump
2012/6 New template for trans women Village pump
2012/8 Proposal to modify MOS:IDENTITY Village pump
2013/8 Chelsea Manning move request 1 Chelsea Manning
2013/10 Chelsea Manning move request 2 Chelsea Manning Chelsea Manning's page was moved from her former to her current name about a month and a half after she came out. The debate over the move received some outside media coverage. (See: the media section at the top of Talk:Chelsea Manning.)
2014/9 Should the historic figure of the Chevalier d'Éon be referred to as a man or a woman? Chevalier d'Éon
2014/10 Birth Name Laverne Cox
2015/6 Problem analogous to the above discussion Village pump
2015/6 MOS:IDENTITY clarification Village pump It was decided that in the 1976 Summer Olympics article, Caitlyn Jenner should be referred to as male rather than female. This was a partial rejection of the Manual of Style's gender identity guidelines, which, at the time, were unequivocal: Wikipedia favors self-designation [of gender identity], even when usage by reliable sources indicates otherwise. Any person whose gender might be questioned should be referred to by the pronouns, possessive adjectives, and gendered nouns (for example "man/woman", "waiter/waitress", "chairman/chairwoman") that reflect that person's latest expressed gender self-identification. This applies in references to any phase of that person's life, unless the subject has indicated a preference otherwise.
2015/6 Birth name in parenthetical Caitlyn Jenner
2015/7 Clarifying/updating WP:BIRTHNAME with respect to MOS:IDENTITY Village pump It was decided that that Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biography § Names should be updated to say that a trans or non-binary person's former name should only be mentioned in the lead if they were notable under that name.
2015/8 Pronoun pref Manual of style
2015/9 Requested move 15 September 2015 Sonia Burgess
2015/9 MOS:IDENTITY clarification close Manual of Style
2015/9 Outing and Wikipedia Manual of Style/Biography
2015/9 Cisgender is mainstream and germane, Should all of the uses of cisgender be included in this article? Caitlyn Jenner
2015/9 MOS:IDENTITY clarification close Caitlyn Jenner
2015/10 Preparing two proposals that would change transgender policy Manual of Style/Biography
2015/10 References to academic publications with transgender authors Manual of Style
2015/10 Parallel discussion on transgender authors in citations Village pump
2015/10 Clarifying MOS:IDENTITY in articles in which transgender individuals are mentioned in passing Village pump A few months after Caitlyn Jenner came out, the scope of the MoS's gender identity guidance was essentially narrowed to main biographical articles. For those, editors were still advised to use the person's latest expressed gender self-identification for any phase of that person's life. But for articles where a trans person was just mentioned in passing, the MoS now offered little guidance except that editors should use context to determine how to refer to them.
2016/1 "The Wachowskis" vs "The Wachowski Brothers" The Matrix
2016/3 Gender changes and deadnaming Manual of Style
2016/5 RfC: How should the directors of this film be presented in the lead? The Matrix
2016/8 RfC: Allow inclusion of former names in lead section of biographies covering transgender and non-binary people Manual of Style/Biography
2016/11 Retroactive use of transgender pronouns in indirect quotations? Manual of Style
2016/12 RFC: Gender Albert Cashier
2017/4 No birth name Laverne Cox
2017/5 Naming transgender people in other articles than their main biographical article Manual of Style
2017/5 RfC regarding MOS:GENDERID for genderqueer people Requests for comment
2018/3 Applications of the transgender/non-binary birth name guidelines Manual of Style/Biography
2018/3 Photo, RfC on article image Daniel Mallory Ortberg It was decided that it was better not to have a photo for writer Daniel Mallory Ortberg than to have an old photo from before he was out.
2018/4 MOS:GENDERID Manual of Style
2018/6 Guidelines regarding birth names of trans individuals Village pump
2018/7 Deadnaming trans people Manual of Style
2018/07 Request for Comment about pronoun usage Albert Cashier Albert Cashier was a Union soldier who was assigned female at birth and lived as a man for over 50 years. In 2016 it was decided that the article could refer to Cashier with female pronouns. But in 2018 it was decided that the article should be rewritten to avoid pronouns entirely.
2018/8 WP:GENDERID advice requested Village pump
2018/9 More recent pictures The Wachowskis It was unanimously decided that, for the The Wachowskis article, it was better to not have a lead image than to have an old photo where one of the two sisters was not out.
2019/1 Gender information Village pump
2019/1 Request for Comment - Crediting the Wachowskis The Matrix (franchise) It was decided that Lana and Lilly Wachowski should be credited as The Wachowskis in the leads and infoboxes of articles about films they made before they came out as women, with footnotes detailing how they were originally credited.
2019/2 Pronouns Rose McGowan
2019/2 The Signpost: Humour: Pesky Pronouns Wikipedia Signpost
2019/2 The Signpost: Humor deletion discussion Miscellany for deletion
2019/3 MOS:GENDERID and death, MOS:GENDERID Suggested change Manual of Style
2019/3 Recent move, Requested move 12 March 2019 Sonia Burgess It was decided that the article on human rights lawyer Sonia Burgess should use her female name as the title, regardless of the fact that she was still presenting as male at work when she died.
2019/5 Requested move 1 May 2019: Genderqueer → Non-binary Non-binary gender The fourth contentious RM discussion about whether to move the Genderqueer page. A narrow consensus was reached to move the page to Non-binary gender.
2019/5 second alleged perpetrator (minor) STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting Discussion over how to refer to a suspect in a 2019 school shooting who is reported to be transgender. A consensus formed to use his chosen name, but to also mention his legal name.
2019/6 RFC about Tilda Swinton List of people with non-binary gender identities Tilda Swinton made comments about her gender that some people interpreted as her coming out as non-binary, but it was decided the situation was not clear-cut enough to put her name on a list of people with non-binary identities.
2019/7 Extended-confirmed-protected edit request on 18 July 2019 Stephanie Hirst The subject of an article requests, on the talk page, that her former name be removed from the article.

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