Transphobic and offensive edits to a handful of transgender-related Wikipedia entries are apparently originating from an IP address in the U.S. House of Representatives on Capitol Hill, LGBT rights groups say.
The edits came to light in recent days via the @congress-edits Twitter account, which automatically posts anonymous Wikipedia edits from congressional IP addresses, and now, LGBT groups are calling attention to the edits to the articles — like “Transphobia,” “Gender Identity Disorder,” and Orange Is the New Black, among others.
“Taxpayer resources in Congress should be used properly, not going to juvenile, yet dangerous, transphobic hate,” Mara Keisling, executive director at National Center for Transgender Equality told BuzzFeed. And Human Rights Campaign, in a statement Thursday said it is calling on House Speaker John Boehner to launch an investigation into the edits, saying the edits were made on “taxpayer-provided equipment on Capitol Hill.” Jeff Krehely, vice president and chief foundation officer at HRC, said the edits are “deeply troubling.”
The edits can be traced back to the IP address, 22.214.171.124, according the change logs of the Wikipedia pages in question.
An edit made to the Orange Is the New Black article changed a description of Emmy-nominated actress Laverne Cox, who is an out transgender woman, to describe her as “a real man pretenting to be a woman.” Specifically, the original text uses the description, “… the first ever women-in-prison narrative to be played by a real transgender woman” which was edited to say, “… first ever women-in-prison narrative to be played by a real man pretending to be a woman.”
Additional edits were made to several other transgender-related articles, which the groups said were offensive and intolerant.
Keisling said that when she first started meeting with congressional staff as an advocate on Capitol Hill a decade ago she used to have to ask if people knew what the word transgender meant. But because of growing public acceptance and awareness of transgender people, she hasn’t gotten that question in a while.
“But this clearly shows that we’ve got so much work to do,” she said. “But importantly, so does this Hill office. Perhaps instead of dallying and spreading misinformation, they should get back to what’s important—representing their constituents and solving serious national problems.”
“It’s chilling to think that this dangerous misinformation about transgender Americans could be coming from our nation’s Capitol,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “At a time when transgender people still face horrific rates of violence, trailblazers like Laverne Cox are helping millions understand that ignorance like this can have life-threatening consequences.”
A message was left with the Wikimedia Foundation seeking comment.