TARDIS Data Core Needs to Cut the Transphobic Bullshit

(48 comments)

The TARDIS Data Core has never been a great site. This ranges from its extraordinarily dubious content decisions such as individually listing every floor of the spaceship in World Enough and TIme to be mentioned in the episode to its outright pernicious decisions like having pages for "rape" and for individual racial slurs that exist to document every single case across all of Doctor Who where they have come up. And this badness has been known to take an overtly queerphobic tinge, such as the decision to jettison categories listing LGBTQ characters in Doctor Who because, and I quote, "We write articles in the past tense from an 'end of the universe' POV. The Category:LGBT individuals, makes no sense for me as it's a very 20th to early 21st century view point" and "If the concept of LGBT existed in the DW universe we'd have a page for it, and we don't, cause it's really not something that's given a lot of thought as a defined concept." (It's not clear why categories such as "human secretaries," "victims of the bubonic plague," and of course "gamers" are more relevant at the end of the universe.)  And of course there's the incredible epic saga of the Zygon penis.

Nevertheless, recent events are bad even by their standards. An editor has recently been doing the very good and useful work of cleaning up mentions of trans people's deadnames across the project. Although there are a handful of cases where it is necessary to disclose a trans person's deadname, it's an exceptionally short list. Deadnames are both deeply inessential information and information that it does harm to disclose. This is even true, to be clear, for cases where the deadname is widely and publicly known. I'm under no illusions that mine is remotely a secret; it's still distressing to hear it. There re a few cases where the information might be necessary. But even in those, slowing down and applying some creative thinking can usually find an adequate alternative. (For instance, in the most justifiable case—an academic citation to something published under a deadname—one can easily just use the correct name and append a parenthetical note "published under a different name," indicating that whoever wants to go looking for this article might want to search by title instead of author.)

Anyway. Because there is absolutely no reason for a public wiki to be using people's deadnames, an editor went through and did the sensible thing, namely removing them all. These edits got reverted, and then, for good measure, the editor who reverted them, Shambala108, blocked the editor who made the changes for a stunningly long six months, despite the fact that the feud had not yet risen to the definition of an edit war and the fact that Shambala108 had been involved in the feud. Then, for good measure, all of their edits were reverted and all pages involving trans people were locked so that nobody could remove the deadnames anywhere on the wiki.

When another editor attempted to follow up on this decision, they got the reply shown to the right here. It is difficult to figure out exactly what to even say to an epic of faux politeness and condescension like this. One is tempted to just try to pick one's favorite terrible phrase in it. "The solution, if we manage to respect each other enough tor each it, will be a compromise between the needs of the trans community and the needs of the DW fan community" is probably mine—a classic of narccisism and egregiously misplaced priorities that instantly reminds one of how and why Ian Levine has managed to be a major figure in the community despite, well, everything. 

Nevertheless, let's take a deep breath and patiently respond to this, because it's worth capturing the sheer level of disingenuity involved here. The case being made is that the wiki needs to respect the credits on the Big Finish website because "if searching for a name on the BF website yields no hits because there the name is completely different, then we have effectively misled the reader." But the TARDIS Data Core already duplicates the relevant information—the page on Jay Harley, for instance, already contains a list of all of the television and Big Finish stories they worked on. Why would anybody looking at this list go "oh, well, I think I'll go pull up the Big Finish site and search by name to get the exact same information?" Except it's actually even more brain-meltingly vacuous than that, because in most of the cases the deadnames are being included in articles on the stories themselves. So this hypothetical use case involves a reader who has pulled up a specific article on a specific story then going to the Big Finish website and attempting to search for the story by the writer's name, then simply giving up instead of trying the more obvious route of searching for the story itself or, and I'm just throwing out wild possibilities here, just clicking the link to the Big Finish page at the bottom of the fucking article and not bothering with the search function in the first place.

No. The idea that a writer's deadname is some essential piece of information for the TARDIS Data Core to include is obvious nonsense. What's going on here is blatantly a bunch of people lashing out because they are upset by the idea that they might have to consider the needs of marginalized people when talking about their beloved television show. It is part and parcel of the long pattern of queerphobic decision making on the part of a wiki that is increasingly obviously a stain on the community. (And tellingly, Shambala108 was also involved in the decision to delete all the queer categories, proclaiming that they "serve no purpose") It is malicious, it is hateful, and it needs to stop.

In light of this, it is worth returning to Amorkuz's lengthy apologia for deadnaming and picking out the other big candidate for my favorite terrible line in it: "I am asking you and any other trans people that feel offended to stand down and give us time to make this decision in peace and quiet."

Respectfully, I am asking any trans people and any allies we have in the Doctor Who community to do nothing of the sort. 

Comments

Nilso 8 months, 2 weeks ago

There is no excuse for deadnaming in 2019. Everyone still calls me Theresa, even though I fully transitioned last fall. Hopefully it stops soon

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Comment deleted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Christopher Brown 8 months, 1 week ago

I am deeply sorry you're having to go through that.

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Jarl 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Things are pretty dire when that other doctor who wiki from the place with all the terrorists has a better track record for deadnames

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Dan 8 months, 2 weeks ago

The what?

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Vadron 5 months, 4 weeks ago

I second Dan's question. What the sugar-bowl are you talking about?

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Kit Power 8 months, 2 weeks ago

...I gotta be honest, nobody in 2019 should be putting the words 'final solution' anywhere near policy relating to LGBT+, either. I mean, damn.

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Dan 8 months, 2 weeks ago

It says "final resolution". Regardless: I mean, it's overly-written and wrong-headed enough without putting something in there that isn't really there surely?

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Etana Edelman 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Has Tardis Data Core ever not sucked
Also I'm not sure if I should put this here because it's not really relevant but speaking of shitty Who fans, the Twitter account @WhoDiscussions has been posting support for Michael Jackson lately. A couple weeks ago they posted quite a lot of Tweets trying to discredit the accusers and proclaim Jackson's innocence. I'd tweet this but I only have 30 followers. Sorry for the hijack.

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Neo 8 months, 2 weeks ago

What was most chilling to me was "We record the reality as it is". Disgusting and very loaded statement. So infuriating. The maintenance of the "gamer" article under that broken methodology is such a bizarrely on-theme bit of ridiculousness that it reads like satire.

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Lambda 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Likewise, claiming to have an 'end of the universe' POV, and dismissing something as a 'very 20th to early 21st century view point', when they actually have an early 21st century viewpoint, being, as they are, people in the early 21st century, and they don't know what an end of the universe POV is because it hasn't happened yet.

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Sleepyscholar 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Without getting all UNIT dating controversy on us here, wouldn't you have said their attitude is more 20th century than 21st? Certainly reminds me more of the England of Love Thy Neighbour, Jim Davidson and Mind Your Language than it does of 2019.

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Jarl 8 months, 2 weeks ago

I know when I'm moderating a discussion between adults about a sensitive topics, ih yeah, my go-to reference is the Punisher.

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Przemek 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Yeah, that bit killed me.

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Comment deleted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Comment deleted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Graham 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Respectfully, do you really think this is the best approach to sorting out the issue? Rather than write a forceful post like this which says 'The TARDIS Data Core has never been a great site', do you think a more effective approach would be to not criticise them, as therefore they would likely resent you and not listen to you. A positive approach would more likely convince the editors, as there is less toxicity; I understand your anger, but I feel that it may not actually work, and if anything this might may things worse.

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Elizabeth Sandifer 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Cool concern trolling bro

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Graham 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Not concern trolling, I am a trans ally who is scared by the approach taken on issues such as this. I am fearful that it is not helping.

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Elizabeth Sandifer 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Mhmm.

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Graham 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Just because we have different opinions on approaches doesn't mean we can't agree overall. With respect, I'd prefer you to critically engage we've what ive said than calling me a troll and dismissing me without argument.

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Dan 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Haha. You are so sealion-ey.

"do you think a more effective approach would be to not criticise them, as therefore they would likely resent you and not listen to you"

The logic here. If being criticized prevents them from examining their own beliefs, they are hardly likely to listen anyway are they.

Elizabeth doesn't even come across as particularly angry in this article. She's stating a case based on what are clearly facts. Is she supposed to keep quiet and send an email to TDC?

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Comment deleted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Christine 8 months, 2 weeks ago

You say this after relaxed, cordial approaches have failed to convince them of anything.

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Graham 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Yes, calm, positive approaches may not work, but an angry hostile attitude like this may actively make the situation worse.

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Christine Kelley 8 months, 2 weeks ago

lol

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Elizabeth Sandifer 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Let's call this discussion finished, shall we?

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Sean Dillon 8 months, 2 weeks ago

When has "not bringing up criticism of a problem" ever worked to solve the problem? Like, how do you even approach a problem without even having the criticism spelt out? And, for that matter, what would be a more positive approach to this problem? Just letting it fester until it alienates the voices of dissent, thus removing the "problem"? Or do you just want to wait for the site that hosts the wiki to intervene like they did with the Zygon cocks?

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Elizabeth Sandifer 8 months, 2 weeks ago

See my comment to Christine above.

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Sean Dillon 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Yeah, I didn't see the comment until after I posted. Sorry.

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Dan 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Same.

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Comment deleted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Daru 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Wow that’s one hella toxic site I’ll be making sure I still stay away from. What a retrograde pile of rubbish by the sound of it.

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Przemek 8 months, 2 weeks ago

What the actual fuck.

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Anon 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Been a wiki user forever and I'm so grateful to see their admins finally being called out for the rampant transphobia on the site. Maybe not the best example since it's finally been resolved, but it took them FOREVER to come around to using singular "they" for the Doctor and the Master, with the debate being reopened multiple times by (you guessed it) Shambala108.

On the topic of the Big Finish website, though... how hard would it be for them to remove Jay Harley's deadname from the multiple pages on which it appears?

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Comment deleted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Gavin Burrows 8 months, 2 weeks ago

It is a close-run thing, but my personal favourite phrase…

“One of the admins is trans themselves, meaning we have all the understanding of the sensitivities we need.”

In other news, one of the cops beating you up is black themselves, so racism cannot be a factor here. We’re glad we’ve been able to reassure you in this way. Particularly around the upper torso.

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Tom B 8 months, 2 weeks ago

I can't see how they can honestly claim that the concept of LGBT doesn't exist in the Doctor Who Universe given the prominence of gay characters starting (openly) in RTD's era, and the concept of gender fluidity in Doctor Who starting with Moffat (your choice as to whether to count The Curse of Fatal Death or to start while he was showrunner and had Time Lords changing sex), culminating in the latest incarnation of the Doctor being female.

Are the admins making the decisions on this just admins for the TARDIS Data Core wiki specifically, or are they general admins for fandom.com? If the former, perhaps escalating it to fandom.com, pointing out to them what Amorkuz pointed out to the TARDIS Data Core peopleabout deliberate deadnaming running afoul of the Hate Crimes Act of 2003 in Britain, would help put on some pressure? Given that law, there shouldn't be much need to consider anything but eliminating the deadnames.

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Przemek 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Ah, but you see, the terms "LGBT" and "gender fluidity" have never been used on the show! Obviously they can't exist.

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Rodolfo Piskorski 8 months, 1 week ago

"culminating in the latest incarnation of the Doctor being female."

Oh my god, this is horrible and shameful, but I confess I did a double take when I read this. I had forgotten the Doctor was a woman, such was my disappointment with season 11. After season 11 ended, I have had almost no contact with anything DW-related at all. So in that sentence in a context of Moffat Who, I felt slightly lost with a reference to a female Doctor. *sigh*

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Comment deleted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Przemek 8 months, 2 weeks ago

My favourite bit has to be "This will not be decided by force. Nothing ever is. (...) I am asking you and other trans people that feel offended to stand down".

What can I do to help?

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Comment deleted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Jeff Heikkinen 8 months, 2 weeks ago

This is in no way meant as any sort of gotcha, but if you feel this strongly about deadnames, why is yours still all over the "Buy Our Books" link on this very page?

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Elizabeth Sandifer 8 months, 2 weeks ago

It's less "gotcha" than just kind of sad that you need the difference between other people asserting a trans person's deadname and a trans person neglecting to update an old webpage to remove it explained to you.

Here. Let me offer two analogous statements so you can really drink in how bad your point is.

"Why do you care what name I call you if you haven't even gone through the process of a legal name change yet?"

"You must not care about your three newest books if you haven't added them to this page."

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Jeff Heikkinen 8 months, 1 week ago

I am not making any kind of "point", I'm simply asking a question about something I was curious about. You seem to be reading in some kind of hostility that was not intended. I'm sorry you feel that way but at the same time I don't see how that was a reasonable or proportionate response to anything I said.

(While I'm on the topic some of the Last War in Albion pages are similarly out of date, in ways totally unrelated to your deadname. Actually, I personally care far more about that than what name is being shown on the books page, I just thought *you* might be more concerned about the latter in view of what you say about the topic in this article.)

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Comment deleted 8 months, 1 week ago

Vadron 7 months, 1 week ago

While there is no love lost between me and the Tardis Data Core (I am currently banned there, by the Amorkuz fellow, though for circumstances not related to *this* particular bit of drama), I feel it is somewhat unfair to equate Shambala's attitude with Levine's.

You see, when Shambala speaks of the needs of the community, it is not in the sense that “if the Doctor Who fans want to hear people's deadnames they have priority”, but in the “no one breaks the site rules until they have been officially repealed, for any reason, ever” sense. The Tardis Wiki has always been defined by having a draconian, labyrinthine set of rules, being unwilling to go through the hassle of ever revising them, and then reigning down holy fire on anyone who breaks them "knowingly" — the quotation marks being because the "knowingly" part is usually handled on a guilty-till-proven-innocent basis. (It is somewhat amusing to me that they've essentially turned themselves into the Time Lords. This is kind of like people looking like their dogs, except with Wikis.)

As later installments in the Tardis Deadname Saga proved, Shambala has actually no objection to changing the Wiki's policy on deadnames, and will no doubt be just as unforgivingly brutal in enforcing the "no deadnames" rules as they were on defending the use of deadnames so long as *that* was the Wiki's de-facto policy.

It's obviously a failing, but not the one you seem to ascribe to them, so I just thought I'd offer my two cents.

(As for this policy — as a cis person my gut feeling was that information, whether unpleasant or otherwise, is still information, and that the name should probably be mentioned once somewhere on the person's page, though certainly not widely reproduced all over the website. But your and other trans people's input has made me rethink the point, as it has for some other Tardis editors.)

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