Categorization by ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, or disability can be the subject of controversy. Articles are sometimes classified by:

These discussions occasionally pop up on Wikipedia:Categories for discussion, tend to be controversial, and vary wildly in their outcome. Cross-categories are typically used to split larger categories (e.g. Category:LGBT sportspeople is used to reduce the size of Category:LGBT people).

This advice applies only to the main namespace (articles, including lists, disambiguation pages, navigation boxes, and templates normally used in articles). It does not restrict categories that are used for WikiProjects, e.g., articles supported by Wikipedia:WikiProject LGBT studies, or on other project pages.


See also: Wikipedia:Categorization of people

General categorization by ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, or disability is permitted, with the following considerations:

  1. Do not create categories that are a cross-section of a topic with an ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, unless these characteristics are relevant to the topic.
    For example, most sportspeople should not be categorized by religion, since being Catholic, Buddhist, or another religion is not relevant to the way they perform in sports.
  2. Terminology must be neutral.
    Derogatory terms, such as racial slurs, are not to be tolerated in a category name under any circumstances, and should be considered grounds for speedy deletion. Note that neutral terminology is not necessarily the most common term; a term that the person or their cultural group does not accept for themselves is not neutral even if it remains the most widely used term among outsiders.
    For example, "AIDS victims" is not an appropriate term for HIV-positive people. When in doubt, err on the side of respect.
  3. Subcategories by country are permitted, although terminology must be appropriate to the person's cultural context.
    For example, a Canadian of indigenous heritage is categorized at Canadian people of Indigenous peoples descent, not Native American people.
  4. Inclusion of people in a category related to ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, or disability must be based on reliable sources.
    For example, regardless of whether you have personal knowledge of a notable individual's sexual orientation, the article should only be added to a LGBT-related category after verifiable, reliable published sources that support the inclusion have been provided in the article.
  5. In almost all cases, gendered/ethnic/sexuality/disability/religion-based categories should be non-diffusing, meaning that membership in the category should not remove membership from the non-gendered/non-ethnic/etc. parent category. Note that the parent can still diffuse on other criteria (see Category:American politicians for an example of a category that has been fully diffused to sub-categories, but that has non-diffusing subcategories like Category:African-American politicians—meaning membership in Category:African-American politicians should not preclude membership in other diffusing subcategories of Category:American politicians).
  6. The "defining" principle applies to gendered/ethnic/sexuality/disability/religion-based categorization as to any other, i.e.:

    A central concept used in categorizing articles is that of the defining characteristics of a subject of the article. A defining characteristic is one that reliable sources commonly and consistently define[1] the subject as having—such as nationality or notable profession (in the case of people), type of location or region (in the case of places), etc.

In other words, avoiding categorizing by non-defining characteristics is a first step in avoiding problems with gendered/ethnic/sexuality/disability/religion-based categories.

By type

Ethnicity and race

Ethnic groups are commonly used when categorizing people; however, race is not. Ethnic groups may be used as categorizations, even if race is a stereotypical characteristic of the ethnic group, e.g. with African-Americans or Anglo-Indians. See Lists of ethnic groups for groups that are typically considered ethnic groups rather than races.

For example, we do have Category:Jewish musicians, but we should not have Category:Semitic musicians.

Citizenship, nationality (which country's laws the person is subject to), national origin, and national self-identity (which country the person feels closest to), although sometimes correlated with ethnicity, are not the same as ethnicity and are not addressed on this page.


A gender-specific category could be implemented where gender has a specific relation to the topic. For example, Category:Women contains articles such as International Women's Day, Women's studies, and female-specific subcategories. Similarly, Category:Men contains articles such as father, men's studies, boy and human male sexuality, as well as male-specific subcategories. Neither category, however, should directly contain biographies of individual women or individual men.

As another example, a female heads of government category is valid as a topic of special encyclopedic interest, though it does not need to be balanced directly against a "Male heads of government" category, as historically the vast majority of political leaders have been male. Both male and female heads of government should continue to be filed in the appropriate gender-neutral role category (e.g. Presidents, Monarchs, Prime Ministers, Governors General). Do not create separate categories for male and female occupants of the same position, such as "Male Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom" vs. "Female Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom".

As most notable organized sporting activities are segregated by gender, sportsperson categories constitute a case where "gender has a specific relation to the topic". As such, sportsperson categories should be split by gender, except in such cases where men and women participate primarily in mixed-gender competition. Example: Category:Male golfers and Category:Female golfers should both be subcategories of Category:Golfers, but Category:Ice dancers should not have gendered subcategories. Category:Male actors and Category:Actresses, and Category:Male models and Category:Female models are also divided by gender.


Categories regarding religious beliefs or lack of such beliefs of a living person should not be used unless the subject has publicly self-identified with the belief in question (see WP:BLPCAT), either through direct speech or through actions like serving in an official clerical position for the religion. For a dead person, there must be verified reliable published sources that, by consensus, support the information and show that the description is appropriate. Religion is not heritable. Never categorize by a religion of any parents or other ancestors.


Categories regarding sexual orientation of a living person are subject to Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons § Categories, lists and navigation templates: such categories should not be used unless the subject has publicly self-identified with the orientation in question, and the subject's sexual orientation is relevant to their public life or notability, according to reliable published sources. For example, a living person who is caught in a gay prostitution scandal, but continues to assert their heterosexuality, may not be categorized as gay.

For a dead person, there must be a verified consensus of reliable published sources that the description is appropriate. Historically, LGBT people often did not come out in the way that they commonly do today, so a person's own self-identification is, in many cases, impossible to verify by the same standards that would be applicable to a contemporary BLP. For a dead person, a broad consensus of academic and/or biographical scholarship about the topic is sufficient to describe a person as LGBT. For example, while some sources have claimed that William Shakespeare was gay or bisexual, there is not a sufficient consensus among scholars to support categorizing him as such—but no such doubt exists about the sexuality of Oscar Wilde or Radclyffe Hall.

Categories that make allegations about sexuality—such as "closeted homosexuals" or "people suspected of being gay"—are not acceptable under any circumstances. If such a category is created, it should be immediately depopulated and deleted. Note that as similar categories of this type have actually been attempted in the past, they may be speedily deleted (as a G4) and do not require another debate at Wikipedia:Categories for discussion.

Disability, intersex, medical, or psychological conditions

There are several guidelines that apply to categorization of people with disabilities, intersex conditions, and other medical or psychological states or conditions.

  1. People with these conditions should not be added to subcategories of Category:People with disabilities, Category:Intersex people or Category:People by medical or psychological condition unless that condition is considered WP:DEFINING for that individual. For example, there may be people who have amnesia, but if reliable sources don't regularly describe the person as having that characteristic, they should not be added to the category.
  2. Categories which intersect a job, role, or activity with a disability or medical/psychological condition should only be created if the intersection of those characteristics is relevant to the topic and discussed as a group in reliable sources. Thus, we have Category:Deaf musicians and Category:Amputee sportspeople and Category:Actors with dwarfism since these intersections are relevant to the topic and discussed in reliable sources, but we should not create Category:Biologists with cerebral palsy, since the intersection of Category:Biologists + Category:People with cerebral palsy is not closely relevant to the job of biologist nor is it a grouping that reliable sources discuss in depth.
  3. The final rung rule described below also applies to disability- or medical/psychological-based intersection categories; such categories should not be the final rung in a category tree, and should not be created if articles can't be otherwise diffused into sibling categories. For example, even if reliable sources regularly discussed Category:Deaf flight attendants, this category should not be created since it would be a final rung category underneath Category:Flight attendants, which isn't otherwise able to be diffused.
  4. All such intersections between disability or medical/psychological conditions and other characteristics like jobs should be treated as non-diffusing categories, meaning that adding Category:Blind musicians should not remove the article from Category:Musicians or any of its diffusing subcategories. All such intersection categories should be considered as "extra" categories, and people should still be placed in all other categories for which they would qualify if they didn't have this condition. A person in Category:Actors with dwarfism is first and foremost an actor, and should be categorized alongside other actors who don't have dwarfism.

Special subcategories

Dedicated group-subject subcategories, such as Category:LGBT writers or Category:African-American musicians, should be created only where that combination is itself recognized as a distinct and unique cultural topic in its own right. If a substantial and encyclopedic head article (not just a list) cannot be written for such a category, then the category should not be created. Please note that this does not mean that the head article must already exist before a category can be created, but that it must at least be possible to create one.

Generally, this means that the basic criterion for such a category is whether the topic has already been established as academically or culturally significant by external sources. If this criterion has not been met, then the category essentially constitutes original research. Although there are exceptions, this will usually mean that categories relating to social or cultural subjects are more likely to be valid than others.

Remember as well, that a category is not automatically a valid substitute for a list. If the category's head article could never be anything more than a bulleted list of individuals who happen to meet the criteria, then a category is not appropriate.

For example, LGBT writers are a well-studied biographical category with secondary sources discussing the personal experiences of LGBT writers as a class, unique publishing houses, awards, censorship, a distinctive literary contribution (LGBT literature), and other professional concerns, and therefore Category:LGBT writers is valid. However, gay people in linguistics do not represent a particularly distinct or unique class within their field, so Category:Gay linguists should not be created. For similar reasons, Category:African-American musicians is valid, but Category:African-American surgeons should not exist.

Similarly, an "(ethnicity) politicians" category should only be created if politicians of that ethnic background constitute a distinct and identifiable group with a specific cultural and political context. There is no significant or notable difference in context between being a German American politician and a Swedish American politician. But an American politician of Native American descent is a different context from an American politician of European background. Thus, Category:Native American politicians is valid, but Category:German American politicians and Category:Swedish American politicians should not exist. The basis for creating such a category is not the number of individuals who could potentially be filed in the group, but whether there's a specific cultural context for the grouping beyond the mere fact that politicians of that ethnic background happen to exist.

Whether such a grouping constitutes a positive or negative portrayal of the racial or sexual group in question is also not, in and of itself, a valid criterion for determining the legitimacy of a category. At all times, the bottom line remains can a valid, encyclopedic head article be written for this grouping?

Other considerations

People who occupy the grey areas are not a valid argument against the existence of a category; if they do not fit, they simply should not be added to it.

Concerns about the neutral point of view status of a particular category must be weighed against the fact that not having such a category may also unacceptably advance a particular point of view. Your personal feelings should not enter into the matter: if a category meets the criteria defined above, then it is permitted, and if the category does not meet the criteria, then it is not permitted. This is the only way in which the myriad points of view on the matter can be realistically reconciled into a relatively neutral position.

Be aware as well, that under these criteria, categories may change over time. Something that is not currently an appropriate category may become a valid one in the future, or vice versa, if social circumstances change. The criterion of whether an encyclopedic article is possible should be the gauge. If a new field of social or cultural study emerges in the future and lends itself to an encyclopedic article, the related categories will then become valid even if they have previously been deleted.

Ghettoization: final rung

Whenever possible, a valid occupational subcategory should be structured and filed in such a way as to avoid "ghettoizing" people, but at the same time, Wikipedia rules about redundant categorization should also be respected. It is entirely possible to meet both of these expectations simultaneously; if you can't, consider alternative ways of defining the category. For instance, if you cannot create "Category:Gay politicians from Germany" without ghettoizing people from Category:German politicians, then it may be more appropriate to eliminate the more specific category and simply retain Category:Gay politicians and Category:German politicians as two distinct categories, or to refile people from the parent category into more specific subcategories based on the particular political body their career is associated with (e.g. "Category:Members of the Bundestag", "Category:Chancellors of Germany", "Category:Ministers-President of Brandenburg" or "Category:Mayors of Berlin").

Also in regards to the "ghettoization" issue, an ethnicity/gender/religion/sexuality/disability subcategory should never be implemented as the final rung in a category tree, unless the parent is (or will become) purely a container category. If a category is not otherwise dividable into more specific groupings, then do not create an E/G/R/S subcategory. For instance: if Category:American poets is not realistically dividable on other grounds, then do not create a subcategory for "African-American poets", as this will only serve to isolate these poets from the main category. Instead, simply apply "African-American writers" (presuming Category:Writers is the parent of Category:Poets) and "American poets" as two distinct categories.


  1. ^ in prose, as opposed to a tabular or list form

See also