The Signpost


Disinformation report

Anti-trans advocacy on Wikipedia: James Cantor and the failings of ArbCom

Contribute  —  
Share this
By Your Friendly Neighborhood Sociologist

James Cantor, a sexologist, has been in the news lately for anti-trans advocacy across the United States - serving as an expert witness while promoting misinformation for the Alliance Defending Freedom.[1][2][3] Many have noted the instrumental role he has created in testifying or providing disinformation and misinformation about trans healthcare.[4][5][6][7]

Less well known is the fact User:James Cantor also edited Wikipedia between 2008 and 2021 to promote anti-trans pseudoscience, defend his colleagues, and attack their critics in violation of Wikipedia's policies on conflicts of interest. His editing was scrutinized by the Arbitration Committee in the Sexology case (2013) - but he received no significant sanctions and was allowed to continue editing for years, until found to be abusing sockpuppet accounts. Here, I demonstrate that the committee's failure to act (due to its remit, not any particular arbitrators) caused years of damage to the Wikipedia's coverage of transgender topics and editing environment for transgender contributors.

Background information

Note: When used on their own, 'Cantor' refers to James Cantor/User:James Cantor and 'James' refers to Andrea James/User:Jokestress.

James Cantor was recently described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as part of an "old guard" of sexology researchers which advocated treating trans identity as mental illness with associated conversion therapy-style “cures”[1] - he worked at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) with Ray Blanchard, and Kenneth Zucker.[8][2] CAMH's gender identity clinic was led by Zucker and later shut down following allegations of conversion therapy[2][9] Cantor's professional focus was the research of paraphilias (an experience of recurring or intense sexual arousal to atypical objects, places, situations, fantasies, behaviors, or individuals.) He was an avid proponent of Blanchard's transsexualism typology; proposed in the 1980s, it argues that all transgender women fall into one of two categories: "homosexual transsexuals" (straight transgender women, posited to be extremely feminine gay men who desire heterosexual men) and "autogynophilic transsexuals" (all lesbian, bisexual, and asexual transgender women, posited to have a "paraphilic"/fetishistic sexual desire to be a woman) - this is unsurprisingly generally considered stigmatizing, incorrect, or both by the transgender community.[2][10] In 2003, J. Michael Bailey (another part of the "old guard"[1]) published The Man Who Would Be Queen, a book promoting Blanchard's typology. There was a large backlash from the LGBT community and transgender healthcare researchers. Cantor positively reviewed it, describing it as a sympathetic portrayal of "autogynephilic transsexuals" that explored the roots of their development.[11]

Cantor joins Wikipedia

In 2008, Alice Dreger wrote an article in the Archives of Sexual Behavior (whose editorial board contained Zucker, Bailey, Blanchard, and Cantor[12]) that accused Andrea James (who also edited Wikipedia as User:Jokestress), Lynn Conway, and Deirdre McCloskey of attempting to ruin Bailey over the book and censor scientific inquiry.[13] Dreger's account received a dozen critiques from a range of disciplines within the same issue for 1) downplaying how offensive the book was to transgender people, 2) attributing the backlash against the book to three individuals, and 3) partisan promotion of Bailey.[14]

That same year, Cantor pseudonymously joined Wikipedia as User:MarionTheLibrarian, making over 1,000 contributions to articles and discussions relating to his colleagues at CAMH, his opponents, Blanchard's typology, conversion therapy (particularly accounts that Zucker practiced it).[15] He would later state in an interview he joined to edit the articles of his colleagues and correct what he considered "misinformation".[16] As Marion, a mediation case was opened due to his POV editing of the articles for James, McCloskey, and Conway through citations to Dreger's piece.[17] During this, the other editor discovered his identity and took him to the COI Noticeboard for attacking Conway and James, shortly after which he started going by User:James Cantor and agreed not to edit The Man Who Would Be Queen or details of the controversy over Blanchard's typology.

Transgender scholars began to take note of the behavior. In 2009, a paper was presented at the International Foundation for Gender Education Conference which stated Cantor apparently spends a great deal of time trolling on Wikipedia and seemed to the author to be obsessed with trying to spin every entry that concerns transgender people and especially theories of trans etiology to conform to Blanchardian and Zuckerian ideology.[18] Shortly after, Lynn Conway wrote a report published on their university profile site arguing the same and stating Cantor has left permanent tracks all over Wikipedia, tracks that reveal just how far Zucker's operatives will go to suppress any criticism of their leader's work.[19]

In 2009, Cantor wrote his first article: the Feminine essence concept of transsexuality. An editor tried to delete it arguing it was a strawman created by and cited to Cantor's colleagues - but it was kept as editors argued there was enough sourcing. (Authors Note: It was only deleted this year after I came across it and nominated it for such on the grounds the page was based on citations never discussing the concept and primary sources from Cantor, Blanchard, and Bailey.) The same year, an administrator chided him for making legal threats against James at the Administrator’s noticeboard In 2010, a discussion was opened at the External links noticeboard by Cantor where it was shown that Cantor added external links to himself and colleagues. Uninvolved editors noted the COI, one directly asking him to please stop adding cites linked to yourself. Cantor argued he was an expert editor The next year, he was blocked for COI editing of Charles Allen Moser, who was a vocal critic of Blanchard’s typology.[20][21] In 2012, James attempted to delete the article gynandromorphophilia, written by Cantor, as a POVFORK of attraction to transgender people - the term was invented by Blanchard - but the discussion found no consensus. It was re-opened in 2013 on the same grounds but deferred due to ARBCOM case.

For context, we must summarize the state of the field at this point: in addition to numerous critiques by trans people, clinicians, and researchers described above, by 2013 there were multiple critiques of this theory.[22][10][23][24] In 2009, a study of trans people's perspectives on the typology concluded that a classification of the MTF population, based solely on sexual orientation, is fundamentally limited. An adequate understanding of this population will only be achieved if social dimensions of the transgender experience, as framed by age and ethnicity in particular, are fully considered.[25] In 2010, transfeminist scholar Julia Serano summarized the issue If proponents of autogynephilia insist that every exception to the model is due to misreporting, then autogynephilia theory must be rejected on the grounds that it is unfalsifiable and therefore unscientific. If, on the other hand, we accept that these exceptions are legitimate, then it is clear that autogynephilia theory’s two-subtype taxonomy does not hold true[22] At this point in time, there was agreement even among academic sources that theory was, if not debunked, heavily criticized and particularly by the transgender community.

In these years leading up to the Sexology case, Cantor repeatedly used Wikipedia as a venue to attack his critics and promote his theories, his colleagues, and himself. This was picked up on by transgender scholars at the time, including those he attacked. His theories, arguably in vogue in the preceding decade, were heavily criticized by the medical and transgender communities. Cantor contended in each dispute that unlike the “activists” who disagreed with him, he was an “expert”. With all these continuing issues, it’s no wonder the Arbitration committee soon became involved.

The Arbitration Committee and ARBSEX

The Arbitration Committee is often considered Wikipedia's supreme court - their job is to resolve conduct issues the community can't.[26] The Committee decided to review the case amidst a 2013 discussion at the Administrators Noticeboard proposing topic bans and sanctions for Cantor, James, and a number of involved parties.

As The Signpost reported at the time, the dispute between James and Cantor that started Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Sexology (2013) began on the hebephilia article but included articles on paraphilias and "transgenderism" - Cantor was accused of excessive self-citation and negatively editing James's article, James was accused of promoting WP:FRINGE theories.[27] The Arbitration Committee found Jokestress and James Cantor are involved in off-wiki advocacy or activities relating to human sexuality; the topic is a primary area that the two edit. The committee found James imported aspects of the controversy into the English Wikipedia to the detriment of the editing environment on sexuality-related articles. No findings of fact were proposed for Cantor (who had been criticized at COIN for joining to attack his critics).[27] This silence was juxtaposed with the committee stating it was a principle of the case that Guidelines on editors with a conflict of interest strongly discourage editors from contributing "in order to promote their own interests".

The Arbitration Committee enabled discretionary sanctions for all pages dealing with transgender issues and paraphilia classification (e.g., hebephilia). Shortly after, the Chelsea Manning Naming Dispute Arbitration Case clarified it applied to transgender people's pronouns and names. (a breakdown of the evolution of the sanction into it's modern form can be found here) James and Cantor were given a mutual interaction ban (barring interactions between the two editors or editing of their pages); though unlike Cantor, the arbitrators banned James from human sexuality (later expanded to include gender in 2019). During the evidence gathering phase of the case, multiple editors argued that Cantor had COI issues - particularly with regards to his editing of articles of his opponents, his incivility (writing off those who disagreed with him as "activists"), and his POV-pushing; meanwhile defenses of his behavior included Importantly, Dr. Cantor does not edit war. Cantor probably should not edit BLP articles of his opponents and he made POV edits to start with, but then [was] very reasonable and respectful of consensus when presented with non-adversarial arguments. [28][28]

The committee proposed indefinitely prohibiting Cantor from editing hebephilia, biographies of sexology researchers, and related advocates while allowing him to edit talk pages, which would have required 6 votes.[27] It failed as 3 supported the measure, 3 opposed, and 2 abstained - the latter 5 saying future misbehavior from him could be covered by the discretionary sanctions.[27][29] One arbitrator had withdrawn[27], having presciently asked during the decision workshop Why isn't Cantor being subjected to the same topic ban as Jokestress?.[29]

During the case an arbitrator noted the decision in no way implies a side is "right", hence the reason for the "limits of arbitration" principle. There are issues here with discussions over what constitutes reliable sources and fringe theories that are not addressed by the decision.[29] To understand this, the committee does not actually exist to figure out who is actually right or wrong in a dispute, they focus on conduct, often serving the side with the greater social capital and capacity to mobilize.[26] Former arbitrator User:Joe Roe commented below on an earlier draft of this piece that the case represents the same structural failing in Arbcom's 2019 Antisemitism in Poland case, where they failed to recognize misinformation against a minority due to their inability to look into the content dispute. This is not to cast blame on any arbitrator during the case - it is a repeated structural failing of ArbCom that their hands are tied when it comes to investigating the content of disputes.

But thus, the committee kicked the can down the road - they weren't going to say whether his views were FRINGE. At least, right after the case, the 3rd attempt to delete Gynandromorphophilia was successful.

The aftermath

After the case, Cantor's behavior was bolder: he continued editing until 2021 and made a lifetime total of approximately 8000 edits across multiple accounts - most if not all containing major conflicts of interest.[30][31][32][33] He created at least two new accounts[34] to continue his COI editing, particularly to skirt the IBAN with James, in 2013[32] and 2015.[33] As the admin who would block him summarized when he did, his behavior represented longtime evasion of scrutiny (given that all of the accounts involved have been active in the same topic area for several years) The subterfuge acknowledged, we can analyze his public activities.

Skipping forward to his public comments on the arbitration case, in 2015 he bragged in an interview that when he started writing on Wikipedia, I started hearing those very same sentences getting quoted almost verbatim by major media outlets. I can’t help but think that if we, meaning the topic experts who are around (and could be around) didn’t put that information in there, what would these media outlets be saying then?[16] He'd tell the Kinsey Institute in 2017 that Wikipedia supported my dissemination of science over the activists who disliked what the science said. Reddit, however, banned me from posting in the psychology group because a single moderator disliked that same science. [35] His use of Wikipedia to promote his views and use of the Sexology decision as a shield is evident. But, when we consider the well-documented gender bias on Wikipedia or the systemic pressures faced by transgender people affecting their educational opportunities [36][37] or the pathologization of transgender people by the medical community[38] questions of cultural hegemony and systemic bias arise.

In 2013, Cantor attempted to delete Margaret Nichols with no mention of the relevant COI and failed, being the sole proponent of deletion with 6 editors disagreeing - he bludgeoned almost all of them. For context, in one of the 2008 same-issue reviews of Dreger's piece, Nichols had sharply criticized Bailey, his book, Blanchard's typology, and CAMH, not to mention Cantor himself (of whom she said many would consider their pathology-paradigm perspectives unenlightened).[39] In 2016 he used a sock to try deleting it again, agreed with himself, and two real editors agreed and thus the article was deleted. In 2015 he unsuccessfully attempted to delete the biography of sexologist David Oliver Cauldwell, arguing he wasn't notable.

In 2015, he reported User:Sceptre, a transgender editor who'd participated in the sexology case, for referring to Zucker as a child-abuser for his conversion practices after the clinic closed and arguing Cantor should fuck the hell away from the Autogynephilia article (which Cantor was attempting to restore following a prior merge). Sceptre had cited an article published 2 days prior in that statement which said Zucker believes it is both ethical and possible to direct a young child’s gender identity to match their biological sex through practices including limiting patients’ cross-gender behaviour and Zucker indicated his therapy would prevent children from growing up to be transgender.[40] - Sceptre was blocked.[41] During that case, multiple editors noted that he not only continued to edit articles where COIs where apparent, but even edited those he'd specifically pledged not to after switching from Marion to his real name - nothing came of it.[41] Some rebutted that editing his field of expertise wasn't a COI. In 2019, he was taken to ANI for stating "most activists [critical of Blanchard] are autogynephilic mtfs" in an edit summary - it was found to be an acceptable way to refer to people.[42][43][44] Some called for a topic ban for his promotion of fringe theories, others opposed it calling it thought policing or political correctness, some of them acknowledging the term is a slur - Cantor repeatedly doubled down on his use of the term and referred to the Sexology case as evidence his editing was all above board: the ArbCom decision shows that all findings faulted [Jokestress's] behavior, not mine, and topic banned her, not me. How explicit would his insults need to have been to receive sanction: would all the people who oppose the theory I support are people who get off on being women have been enough? That year, he also removed his non-binding pledge to avoid a subset of COI articles from his userpage.[45]

At the same time, Cantor was active in the real world. In 2016, he argued on his blog that the majority of transgender children grow out of it based on outdated and flawed research.[46] In 2018 the Alliance Defending Freedom hired him to help ban transgender girls from girls' school sports teams.[47] In 2020, he was temporarily banned from the listserv of Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality for what the president described as a pattern of harassment against several other members – even after those other members had repeatedly asked him to stop, at which point he resigned.[48] That same year, he argued on his blog that conversion therapy has never been practiced on transgender people so shouldn't be made illegal in Canada.[49] His attempts soon thereafter to edit the CAMH page to downplay the conversion therapy allegations against them are therefore not shocking.[50]

Finally, in 2021, two of his sockpuppets, User:Starburst9 and User:Banglange, were discovered and he was blocked for violation of sockpuppeting policies and his IBAN with James.[34] The top edited articles for Starburst9? Those include Sexual addiction, James Cantor, and Andrea James. For Banglange? The top three are Kenneth Zucker, James Cantor, and Andrea James. In a fitting irony, in 2022 a judge ruled that Cantor lacked expertise in gender-affirming care and gave him "very little weight"[51] Humorous, but in Florida, he was hired by the state to defend a ban on public funding for gender-affirming healthcare[52] and in Texas to defend investigating parents of transgender children for child abuse,[46] Since 2021, the same year as his block, he testified in 25 cases seeking to restrict transgender rights in the U.S. after being asked to do so by the Alliance Defending Freedom, often citing his colleagues at CAMH.[2] In 2023, he estimated he's doubled his income through this testimony and said he closed his clinical practice to handle the case-load.[2]

Take-aways from sexology

A WP:FRINGE sexologist known for his pathologizing views on transgender people edited Wikipedia's articles - on trans topics, his critics, and the researchers he worked with - for over a decade. Primarily, this is an example of the WP:Al Capone effect (an essay written inspired by this piece's anology) - like Capone getting got on tax evasion rather than organizing crime - Cantor was not banned for years of COI editing, offensive comments, and civil POV pushing, but for doing so with sockpuppets. Even then, civil was in the eye of the beholder, as his work was long considered derogatory and pathologizing. What should we make of this?

Some I've spoken to have suggested it belies a shift in what is WP:FRINGE: his views, while deeply offensive, were in vogue in 2008, or even 2013 during the sexology case. But reliable sources were clear, even then, that the majority of the LGBT community found those views offensive. Others chalked it up to early Wikipedia's deference to experts and greater rein given to them in their topic areas - his WP:COI was seen as a boon rather than a detriment. We can understand this as an interplay between systemic bias and scientism (the argument that science and the scientific method are the only way to understand the world). We had a scientist say trans women are fetishists, we had researchers say his evidence was faulty, and LGBT people calling it bullshit. In choosing who is reliable, Wikipedia broadly considered his views more reliable than those of the LGBT community.

To what extent was the Arbitration committee responsible? In one sense, completely, and in another, not at all. The individual arbitrators were not at fault but structural failings in the remit of Arbcom itself - it wasn't their job to figure out who was spreading misinformation so they didn't.

Alas, it's clear that through their inaction the Arbitration Committee prioritized a small clique of sexologists and their thoughts on a minority demographic over the demographic itself, who overwhelmingly said their work was pathologizing and didn't represent the community accurately.[53] Their decision emboldened him further and was used as a trump card whenever his behavior was called into question. As Sceptre put it in WP:ARBSEX, a facet of the case was encyclopedic treatment of a maligned minority, especially when said maligning comes from otherwise reliable sources - regrettably this structural failing, a complete focus on conduct in a vacuum from content, wouldn't be the last and continues to be unaddressed to this day.

Wikipedia's editors are undoing his damage to our coverage of transgender topics to this day. Hopefully, we won't repeat the same mistakes when dealing with such behavior in future and the community can figure out how to stop these issues in futures - while it's a sobering tale, Wikipedia is slowly recovering and we can only hope that the times they are a-changin'. - YFNS

About the author

I'm User:Your Friendly Neighborhood Sociologist, a 20 year old lesbian trans woman from New York, a computer scientist, and a sociologist - on Wikipedia I focus on trans history/rights/healthcare and housing rights in NYC. I joined Wikipedia when I was 18 because I saw many articles concerning trans topics were non-existent, out of date, pathologizing, or contained misinformation - so I've been working to fix them since. I was once banned from editing all queer topics (now successfully appealed, obviously[1]). This piqued my interest in the sociological history of how Wikipedia has handled queer topics, which led me to investigate this case. I've written 25 articles and a selection of my work is available at on my userpage. This is my second piece for the signpost, I previously helped write French Wikipedia grapples with names and pronouns for transgender people and my essay WP:No queerphobia was republished here during Pride month. - YFNS

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b c "Foundations of the Contemporary Anti-LGBTQ+ Pseudoscience Network". Southern Poverty Law Center. 2023-12-12.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Montpetit, Jonathan; Gilchrist, Sylvène (Oct 21, 2023). "U.S. conservatives are using Canadian research to justify anti-trans laws". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
  3. ^ Drennen, Ari (2024-06-27). "New York Times quotes psychologist linked to extremist groups to fearmonger about gender-affirming care". Media Matters for America. Retrieved 2024-06-28.
  4. ^ McNamara, Meredithe; McLamore, Quinnehtukqut; Meade, Nicolas; Olgun, Melisa; Robinson, Henry; Alstott, Anne (2024). "A thematic analysis of disinformation in gender-affirming healthcare bans in the United States". Social Science & Medicine. 351: 116943. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2024.116943.
  5. ^ Caraballo, Alejandra (2022). "The Anti-Transgender Medical Expert Industry". Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics. 50 (4): 687–692. doi:10.1017/jme.2023.9. ISSN 1073-1105.
  6. ^ Wuest, Joanna; Last, Briana S. (2024). "Agents of scientific uncertainty: Conflicts over evidence and expertise in gender-affirming care bans for minors". Social Science & Medicine. 344: 116533. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2023.116533.
  7. ^ "Manufacturing the doubt that fuels the network". Southern Poverty Law Center. December 12, 2023. Retrieved 2024-07-14.
  8. ^ "Group dynamics and division of labor within the anti-LGBTQ+ pseudoscience network". Southern Poverty Law Center. 2023-12-12.
  9. ^ "CAMH to 'wind down' gender identity clinic after review of services". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Dec 15, 2015.
  10. ^ a b Veale, Jaimie F.; Clarke, David E.; Lomax, Terri C. (2012). "Male-to-Female Transsexuals' Impressions of Blanchard's Autogynephilia Theory". International Journal of Transgenderism. 13 (3): 131–139. doi:10.1080/15532739.2011.669659.
  11. ^ Cantor, James (Summer 2003). "Book review: The Man Who Would Be Queen" (PDF). Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Issues (American Psychological Association) Newsletter. 19 (2): 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-27.
  12. ^ "Editors". Archives of Sexual Behavior.
  13. ^ Dreger, Alice D. (2008). "The Controversy Surrounding the Man Who Would be Queen: A Case History of the Politics of Science, Identity, and Sex in the Internet Age". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 37 (3): 366–421. doi:10.1007/s10508-007-9301-1. PMC 3170124. PMID 18431641.
  14. ^ "Archives of Sexual Behavior | Volume 37, issue 3".
  15. ^ "MarionTheLibrarian - Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org) - Edit Counter - XTools".
  16. ^ a b "Becoming a Wikipedia editor for sex and sex violence pages [Interview excerpt]". SexologyToday.
  17. ^ "Wikipedia:Mediation Cabal/Cases/2008-06-01 Lynn Conway". August 6, 2022 – via Wikipedia.
  18. ^ Ryan, Ruby (2009-02-06). The Transgender Tipping Point: It is Not the Transperson Who is Disordered but the Society in which S/he Lives (PDF). International Foundation for Gender Education Conference (IFGE-2009): Alexandria, Virginia. Vol. 2-20-09.
  19. ^ Connway, Lynn (April 30, 2009). The War Within: CAMH battles notorious reputation of Zucker s and Blanchard's gender clinics with scathing report (PDF) (Report).
  20. ^ "Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/IncidentArchive693".
  21. ^ Moser, Charles (2010-06-30). "Blanchard's Autogynephilia Theory: A Critique". Journal of Homosexuality. 57 (6): 790–809. doi:10.1080/00918369.2010.486241. ISSN 0091-8369. PMID 20582803. Retrieved 2024-06-28.
  22. ^ a b Serano, Julia M. (2010-10-12). "The Case Against Autogynephilia". International Journal of Transgenderism. 12 (3): 176–187. doi:10.1080/15532739.2010.514223. ISSN 1553-2739.
  23. ^ Winters, Kelley (2006-02-03). "Gender Dissonance: Diagnostic Reform of Gender Identity Disorder for Adults". Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality. 17 (3–4): 71–89. doi:10.1300/J056v17n03_04. ISSN 0890-7064.
  24. ^ Samons, Sandra L. (October 12, 2012). When The Opposite Sex Isn't: Sexual Orientation In Male-to-Female Transgender People. Taylor & Francis. pp. 64–70. ISBN 978-1-136-91486-7.
  25. ^ Nuttbrock, Larry; Bockting, Walter; Mason, Mona; Hwahng, Sel; Rosenblum, Andrew; Macri, Monica; Becker, Jeffrey (2011-04-01). "A Further Assessment of Blanchard's Typology of Homosexual Versus Non-Homosexual or Autogynephilic Gender Dysphoria". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 40 (2): 247–257. doi:10.1007/s10508-009-9579-2. ISSN 0004-0002. PMC 2894986. PMID 20039113.
  26. ^ a b Grisel, Florian (2024). "Canceling Disputes: How Social Capital Affects the Arbitration of Disputes on Wikipedia". Law & Social Inquiry. 49 (2): 1060–1081. doi:10.1017/lsi.2023.15. ISSN 0897-6546.
  27. ^ a b c d e "Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2013-04-22/Arbitration report".
  28. ^ a b "Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Sexology/Evidence".
  29. ^ a b c "Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Sexology/Proposed decision".
  30. ^ "James Cantor - Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org) - Edit Counter - XTools".
  31. ^ "MarionTheLibrarian - Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org) - Edit Counter - XTools".
  32. ^ a b "Starburst9 - Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org) - Edit Counter - XTools".
  33. ^ a b "Banglange - Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org) - Edit Counter - XTools".
  34. ^ a b "Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations/James Cantor/Archive".
  35. ^ Lehmiller, Justin (2017-09-28). "The Kinsey Institute Interview Series: A Conversation with Dr. James Cantor". kinseyinstitute.org. Retrieved 2024-06-28.
  36. ^ Siegel, Derek P. (2019-10-01). "Transgender experiences and transphobia in higher education". Sociology Compass. 13 (10). doi:10.1111/soc4.12734. ISSN 1751-9020.
  37. ^ Hafford-Letchfield, Trish; Pezzella, Alfonso; Cole, Laura; Manning, Rebecca (2017-01-01). "Transgender students in post-compulsory education: A systematic review". International Journal of Educational Research. 86: 1–12. doi:10.1016/j.ijer.2017.08.004. ISSN 0883-0355.
  38. ^ Kronk, Clair A.; Dexheimer, Judith W. (2021-12-01). "An ontology-based review of transgender literature: Revealing a history of medicalization and pathologization". International Journal of Medical Informatics. 156: 104601. doi:10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2021.104601. ISSN 1386-5056. PMID 34649111.
  39. ^ Nichols, Margaret (2008). "Dreger on the Bailey Controversy: Lost in the Drama, Missing the Big Picture". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 37 (3): 476–480. doi:10.1007/s10508-008-9329-x. PMID 18431629.
  40. ^ Cross, Jessica Smith (2015-03-22). "Outcry prompts CAMH to review its controversial treatment of trans youth". Metro News Canada. Archived from the original on 2015-03-22. Retrieved 2024-06-28.
  41. ^ a b "Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents".
  42. ^ "Blanchard's transsexualism typology: Difference between revisions". 2019-09-06.
  43. ^ "User talk:James Cantor/Archive 2".
  44. ^ "Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/IncidentArchive1017#Transphobic comments".
  45. ^ "User:James Cantor: Difference between revisions - Wikipedia".
  46. ^ a b Taylor, Goldenstein (July 9, 2022). "Texas judge blocks two CPS investigations of transgender health care for kids". Houston Chronicle.
  47. ^ "Arkansas federal judge strikes down transgender care law. What about Alabama's?". 21 June 2023.
  48. ^ "Leading gay sex researcher claims he was 'emotionally blackmailed' over anti-trans essay in defence of JK Rowling". 26 August 2020.
  49. ^ Cantor, James (October 13, 2020). "Bill C-6". Retrieved 2024-06-28.
  50. ^ "Centre for Addiction and Mental Health: Difference between revisions - Wikipedia". en.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 2024-06-28."Centre for Addiction and Mental Health: Difference between revisions - Wikipedia". en.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 2024-06-28.
  51. ^ "Biased Science in Texas & Alabama". medicine.yale.edu. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  52. ^ Hiltzik, Michael (2022-06-03). "Column: Florida's DeSantis launches new attack on his state's transgender citizens". Retrieved 2024-06-28.
  53. ^ Sánchez, Francisco J.; Vilain, Eric (2012-10-29). Handbook of Psychology and Sexual Orientation. Oxford University Press. pp. 42–54. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199765218.003.0004.
S
In this issue
+ Add a comment

Discuss this story

These comments are automatically transcluded from this article's talk page. To follow comments, add the page to your watchlist. If your comment has not appeared here, you can try purging the cache.
== Mistake or systematic failure? ==

Thanks for this very interesting and important article, Your Friendly Neighborhood Sociologist. Cantor went out of his way to encourage me as a newbie editor, so it's saddening to learn that he was and is using Wikipedia to further bigotry.

Anyway, I happened to come across this article before it was published, so I hope you don't mind if I leave some thoughts here for you to take or leave.

I sadly don't think we can chalk up ArbCom's failure in the Sexology case to a mistake. That is, I don't think it's as simple as the 2013 ArbCom just fucking up, and that if circumstances were different or if it were a different set of people they'd have got it right. Crucially, I also highly doubt that, faced with a similar case, we'd do any better now.

I'm not too familiar with the Sexology case but it has strong parallels to the 2019 antisemitism in Poland case, where the committee of the time (which included me) also fucked it up and missed an opportunity to put a stop to damaging disinformation targeted against a minority. I deeply regret that, and I don't mean to excuse myself or by implication the 2013 committee on Sexology, but I do think that the main factors in both cases were structural. More specifically, the bad decision grew out of ArbCom's framing as a body that can only pay attention to "conduct" and not content. So not only are arbs not selected to have the skills and knowledge necessary to deeply engage with content disputes, they are actively discouraged from doing so. This happens both through the structure of the arbitration process and what the community expects of arbs. In antisemitism of Poland, the real substance of the case was a dispute over reliability and NPOV in historiographical sources. But even if I had the time or expertise to dive into that, I had a strong feeling that doing so wasn't my job and that if I tried I would be criticised. So instead we looked at conduct—who said what, who reverted who, and so on—and as a result missed the fact that the guy who was behaving the worst was actually the one who was right on the issues.

I see something similar in Sexology. To reach the right conclusion, the arbs should have dived into the sources and the content arguments that were presented to them and seen that Cantor's views were fringe. Instead, they took the easy route and looked at which side was the worst-behaved. And I wouldn't discount the influence of Cantor's credentials here: he was one of very, very few active editors who could also claim to be a tenured and published expert (with a Wikipedia page!), and that produced an aura. For a group of pseudonymous Wikipedians to challenge him and say he's wrong in his area of purported expertise would have been a bold move. You're right that the COI aspect should have countered this, but we were also much less serious about COI back in 2013. Again, it's not to say they couldn't do these things or didn't have a choice, but the deck was stacked against the proper outcome. Maybe had the case happened in 2024, now that trans issues are better understood by the general public, it would have be easier to spot and name Cantor as a fringe figure, but I wouldn't put money on it.

So I don't, unfortunately, believe that we'll better with issues like this in the future. Not until the community accepts the fact that, just like their a intractable conduct disputes that can't be satisfactorily solved through consensus, there are intractable content disputes that can't be satisfactorily solved by amateurs discussing what reliable sources say. These should be sent to a body that is equipped to deal with them, not shunted to an ArbCom that deliberately has its hands tied behind its back when it comes to content. – Joe (talk) 10:34, 6 July 2024 (UTC)[reply]

P.S. I've shamelessly stolen your analogy in the last section for Wikipedia:Al Capone effect, I hope you don't mind. – Joe (talk) 11:58, 6 July 2024 (UTC)[reply]
@Joe Roe No problem, thank you so much for the feedback! You put it very well, particularly the structural issues with Arbcom focusing on conduct over content. Additionally, the notes on the COI issues being treated differently in WP's early years and the weight of credentials - others noted those too but it's been hard to find a RS or policy or etc to cite to bring it up. Would you mind if I refer to your note and explanation in the piece? Also, if you have RS touching on any of those concerns (conduct v content, early COI editing, credentialing) I'd appreciate those too!
Finally, good artists copy, great authors steal :p - don't mind at all and very much appreciated the essay! Best, Your Friendly Neighborhood Sociologist ⚧ Ⓐ (talk) 23:13, 8 July 2024 (UTC)[reply]



       

The Signpost · written by many · served by Sinepost V0.9 · 🄯 CC-BY-SA 4.0