Search for "Bradley Manning" on Wikipedia and you are directed to the entry for "Chelsea E. Manning," reflecting the soldier's name preference. A website contributor, "Morwen," aka Abigail Brady, began making the changes almost immediately after Manning made her statement on the Today show.
"I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility)."
Since Wikipedia serves as a major information source for a wide segment of the public, this is an important step toward people knowing Manning's proper name.
Wikipedia has a standing well-established policy for using people's preferred identity in posts. Brady says she was one of the individuals who helped to put it in place.
But the changes weren't made seamlessly. There was heated discussion on the talk page about whether the change should be made. Many didn't know the policy; others hadn't seen the announcement. But there were some who disagreed with honoring Manning's choice.
"A number of us have been arguing all afternoon," says Brady. "Our manual of style is very clear and has been for years, but as it is quite an obscure issue we do get people righteously wading in with no understanding of the subject."
"At worst they are using it as a platform for hate speech (there haven't been many of these today, at least.) At best they are relatively clueless but unhelpfully raise the same pro forma objections like they are something new," she adds.
While Wikipedia footnoted the source of the name change, it refreshingly didn't feel the need to have an explanation for why the entry was updated to reveal the current correct language.
Unfortunately, others have failed to follow suit. The New York Times even referred to her as "him" in its article about Manning's pronoun preferences.
Contact Justine Sharrock at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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