Wikipedia:WikiProject LGBT studies/Guidelines
|This page is an essay on style. It contains the advice and/or opinions of one or more WikiProjects on how to format and present article content within their area of interest.
This advice page is not a formal Wikipedia policy or guideline and is not part of the Manual of Style. It might not provide valid criteria for failing a Good Article or Featured Article candidate, nor for a noticeboard action or other dispute. However, it may be consulted for assistance during any discussion about the style used in an article. The degree of consensus that went into creating this essay (a potential measure of the reliability of the advice) can be judged by consulting the history and talk pages.
A person's gender and sexuality is intimate to who they are and how that impacts their personal and professional life will vary. Extreme care should be taken to avoid undue weight focusing on these aspects in relation to the overall article. A statement "Smith is openly gay" may be all that is needed in many cases unless it can be tied to how it impacted Smith's career or life. Sometimes the fact that a person has come out is noteworthy itself, but it should be reported in the article dispassionately and neutrally: "In May 2009, in an interview with ABC News, Smith came out as transgender." It is helpful to readers to add the context, especially in the form of statements from the subject.
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a newspaper: We follow, not lead. Implicit in the policy on biographies of living people (BLP) is the understanding that Wikipedia articles should respect the basic human dignity of their subjects. Wikipedia aims to be a reputable encyclopedia, not a tabloid; our articles must not serve primarily to mock or disparage their subjects, whether directly or indirectly — for instance, it is not acceptable to use Wikipedia as a venue for outing people. Wikipedia's articles are mirrored and distributed globally, what we write here can negatively impact people's lives; even the families and friends of someone discussed in articles. This is of particular importance when dealing with individuals whose notability stems largely from their being victims of another's actions; Wikipedia editors must not act, intentionally or otherwise, in a way that amounts to participating in or prolonging the victimization. The correct balance must always be sought, and the highest ethical standards are an important part of Wikipedia's goals to produce and distribute content freely.
- Sexuality and gender identity are not interchangeable. However the two often intersect and defining the effects of each can be difficult if not impossible.
- The Wikipedia Manual of Style's guidelines on identity guide us to refer to transgender individuals according to the names and pronouns they use to identify themselves.
- Identification and categorization of people is bound by Wikipedia's policy on Biographies of Living Persons (BLPs). To add content on a person's religion, sexuality and gender variance you need reliable sourcing. After taking that into account:
- A living person may be categorized and identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) only if they themselves publicly identify as such, e.g., Billie Joe Armstrong.
- Specific categorization rules apply regarding gender, sexuality, and medical conditions.
- A deceased person may be categorized and identified as LGBTI if they had documented, notable relationships with their same sex or with both sexes, such as Marlon Brando.
How to write about transgender and non-binary people
As the guideline on birth names notes, the birth names of transgender and non-binary people should only be included in the lead sentence if the people were notable prior to coming out. (This accords with our principle to do no harm and give information due, not undue, weight.) Instead, this information may be woven into an "Early life" section — "Smith was born male but never felt this reflected who she was and she transitioned as soon as she was independent of her family." Ideally statements from the subject will help clarify how they saw themselves at the time so we can let them speak for themselves.
In cases where the prior name is known only as the result of being outed, editors may feel it would be giving it undue weight to include it in the article, unless it was subsequently widely reported in reliable sources. However, caution must be taken to avoid situations where Wikipedia may be unintentionally contributing to the prior name's dissemination through invalid circular referencing. (In 2014, for example, a noted transgender woman's birth name was added to her Wikipedia article on the basis that it had been revealed by a source. However, that source quickly withdrew its article out of respect for the subject's privacy rights. In attempting to keep the name in the article, some editors sought out new replacement sources, but it turned out that all of the new sources for her birth name had received the information from our article rather than the original source.
Transgender is an adjective; hence one says "Smith is a transgender woman" (or simply "a trans-woman"). The use of it as a noun (as in "Smith is a transgender", "the film features two transgenders") is often considered offensive, is deprecated by several style guides and other authorities, and should be avoided. Likewise, transsexual is an adjective, and should not be used as a noun. Transgendered is also offensive and deprecated by style guides and should also not be used. (Direct quotations, however, should not be altered.)
When to use gay or homosexual
When describing a living person, their documented preference for a description of sexual orientation should be used as a default. Where a self description is unavailable, gay or lesbian is preferred to homosexual in articles about living people. For historical articles, homosexual can be used as an accurate adjective describing the subject if roughly dating events before 1970, though discussing influence on modern gay culture may be appropriate. Generally homosexual should be confined to descriptions of sexual activity or clinical orientation.
Examples from independent style guides:
- The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage (5th ed., 2015, ISBN 9780812963892), "gay (adj.)": "preferred over 'homosexual' in most contexts. Generally confine 'homosexual' to specific references to sexual activity or clinical orientation."
- Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal Editorial Style Guide (CDC, ver. 5.1, 2015), "homosexual, bisexual, gay": "Using these terms as adjectives is acceptable, as in 'gay men,' and dependent on the author's discretion. However, avoid using these terms as nouns as they may too vague or perceived as pejorative. Sometimes the phrase 'men who have sex with men' or MSM is used because some of these men do not label themselves as gay, homosexual, or bisexual."
- Associated Press Style Book (2013, ISBN 9780465082995), "Gay": "Preferred over 'homosexual' except in clinical contexts or references to sexual activity".
- The Canadian Press Stylebook (2013), "Sexuality": "Gay is usually preferred as an alternative for homosexual men and is also commonly used for women, although lesbian is preferred by many women."
- BBC News Radio Newsroom Alphabetical Checklist (2012) "Gay": "some people believe the word "homosexual" has negative overtones, even that it is demeaning. Most homosexual men and women prefer the words 'gay' and 'lesbian'. Either word is acceptable as an alternative to homosexual, but 'gay' should be used only as an adjective."
Significant mass changes of articles from gay to homosexual, or the reverse, require a supporting specific consensus or are likely to be viewed as disruptive.
- Reuters Handbook of Journalism, "transgender": "Do not use transgender as a noun; no one should be referred to as 'a transgender.'"
- GLAAD Media Reference Guide, "Transgender Issues":
"Problematic: 'transgenders,' 'a transgender'
Preferred: transgender people, a transgender person
Transgender should be used as an adjective, not as a noun. Do not say, 'Tony is a transgender,' or 'The parade included many transgenders.' Instead say, 'Tony is a transgender man,' or 'The parade included many transgender people.'"
- Dictionary.com, "transgender": "The adjective is more common than the noun; in fact, some people reject the use of transgender as a noun."
- BBC News Style Guide, "Gender/sex": "Do not say 'transsexuals', in the same way we would not talk about 'gays' or 'blacks'."
- Dictionary.com, "transgender": "Some transgender people object to the adjectival variant transgendered, because the –ed suffix could imply that something 'happened' to make the person transgender."
- NPR Ethics Handbook, "'Memmos': Memmott's Missives & Musings, from the Standards & Practices Outbox": "Someone is 'transgender.' Do not write or say 'transgendered.'"
- GLAAD Media Reference Guide, "Transgender Issues": "Problematic: 'transgendered'. Preferred: transgender. The adjective transgender should never have an extraneous '-ed' tacked onto the end. An '-ed' suffix adds unnecessary length to the word and can cause tense confusion and grammatical errors. It also brings transgender into alignment with lesbian, gay, and bisexual. You would not say that Elton John is 'gayed' or Ellen DeGeneres is 'lesbianed,' therefore you would not say Chaz Bono is 'transgendered.'"