The Wookieepedia Deadnaming Vote That Never Should Have Happened

Trans lives matter.

Trans rights are human rights.

Project Stardust sees you and we know watching the Wookieepedia events unfold hurt. We believe that the fandom as a whole has a duty to ensure that better days are ahead. Positive change is slow, but is worth the fight. 

This article is meant to be a concise summary of the key moments that unfolded in the last week. The following could be triggering for some people because of the discussion of deadnaming that occurred and is described here. At the end of the article, there is a list of links to trans resources. It includes both support for trans community members and educational resources for those who wish to be a better ally. If we’ve missed something, let us know!

Earlier this week, contributors to the Star Wars fan wiki Wookieepedia brought to attention an alarming ongoing vote: whether or not to use deadnames when referencing real-world creators on various Wookieepedia pages.

Rightfully, the fandom – both the fan community itself and Fandom, the host of the wiki – responded with a big deserving “Nope.” 

But the conversations that have emerged as a result – the fact that this was even a debate among people with power on the site in the first place, the fact that cisgender editors were being asked to vote on the rights of transgender people at all – have unsettled many fans, especially those who identify as transgender or have transgender loved ones. 

In the meantime, here’s a breakdown of what happened. Because on the surface, it’s quite simple.

  • An already-existing policy on the site stated that “Articles for real-world people, such as actors and authors, shall be titled according to their actual credited name in a Star Wars work, whether that be an abbreviation/stage name or pseudonym.”
  • In 2019, artist Robin Pronovost asked that their deadname be removed from the site. An editor removed it, followed by another changing it back to the deadname. This back-and-forth continued among editors for a while.
  • In 2020, Daniel M. Lavery’s article was flagged for removing their dead name, prompting another round of discussions as to the policy.
  • When it became clear that the above policy had the potential to harm individuals who have changed their names after coming out as transgender, Wookieepedia’s forums decided to put the issue to a vote.
  • Importantly, the vote began at the request of a trans editor who had been pushing back against the policy. During the vote, the changes around Pronovost’s article were brought up, deadnaming the artist in the process.
  • 32 Wookieepedia editors voted in support of changing the policy in order to ban the practice of deadnaming on the site. 12 voted against the policy change.
  • After a series of bans and understandable uproar, Fandom finally stepped in, put a stop to the vote, and changed the policy itself.

According to CBR, the official statement from Tim Quievryn, Fandom’s Director of Community Safety, reads:

“Having reviewed the situation, and in keeping with the evolving understanding of these issues, Fandom has determined that, while it may not have been the intention, knowingly using a deadname in an article title is a violation of our Terms of Use. This is a global determination, meaning it applies to all wikis — including Wookieepedia.”

Even though deadnaming is now prohibited across Fandom’s wiki sites, that doesn’t erase the pain many are feeling knowing their rights could have been in jeopardy at all – that someone with power once again was almost allowed to get away with dehumanizing them for simply asking they be referred to by their name.

Let us be clear: the vote should not have occurred. Respecting trans rights and lives means supporting their wishes in moments such as this. As allies who share this fandom space our duties include: listening to the trans voices in our community,  respecting their voices and their concerns, and seeking to understand their fears and frustrations. Let trans voices be heard.

If you are reading this, and you have been made to feel like you do not deserve a place in this community, please know that here, with us:

You belong

You matter. 

You deserve better. 

Project Stardust is actively working to devote more time and resources to fully consider what Star Wars means to trans fans. We believe that this issue and related issues of belonging in fandom cannot be addressed totally in one article about these events. If you’d like to share your experiences or have feedback on how we can do this, please email us at theprojectstardust@gmail.com

For community resources and to learn more about trans rights:

The This Is The Way: Trans Rights Are Human Rights fundraiser, organized by members of the Star Wars community, is still ongoing. Despite surpassing a $20,000 milestone, there are those within our community and apart from it who need all the help we can offer.

Black Trans COVID-19 Fund Community Response

Trans Lifeline: Home 

Peer2Peer.Live: Identity is Content 

GLAAD Transgender Resources

Black Trans Travel Fund

Pronoun Etiquette – Robot Hugs 

International – The Trevor Project

Trans Resources 

TransPulse Resource Locator – Transpulse & TransGender Pulse Transgender Resources 

The Okra Project 

Mission Statement and History | blacktransmedia

Mermaids: Homepage

Trans Empowerment

Editor’s Note: the timeline has been updated to convey the full extent of the chronology of the concerns around Wookieepedia’s policy.