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'Deadnaming': Trans Actors Blast IMDB For Publishing Birth Names; Site Defends Its Policy

A view of IMDb signage during a party, hosted by IMDb, celebrating Bryce Dallas Howard receiving an IMDb STARmeter Award on January 25, 2016 in Park City, Utah.
Andrew Toth / Contributor / Getty Images
 

Two trans actors have gone on the warpath against the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) for allowing their birth names to be published in their bio pages.

 

According to IndieWire, the two trans actors, both of whom wished to remain anonymous, have lobbied IMDB to have their birth names removed, a practice colloquially known as "deadnaming," to no avail.

"Speaking on condition of anonymity, representatives for two trans actors with major television credits told IndieWire that they have not been able to remove this information from IMDB, even after extensive lobbying from management, representatives at one of the top three Hollywood agencies, and GLAAD, the leading LGBTQ media advocacy organization," reports the outlet.

The LGBTQ community has repeatedly spoken out against deadnaming on multiple platforms, including Wikipedia, saying it causes "feelings of dysphoria, invalidating their identities, and negatively impacting job prospects."

"We contacted them immediately and they gave us a total non-apology," an anonymous trans actor told IndieWire. "Claiming that it’s public information and they do this with everyone."

 

Trans actor Jake Graf, who transitioned before his film career began, told IndieWire that the prospect of "deadnaming" is horrifying to transgender people

"If that were to happen to me, obviously I’d be horrified," Graf said. "It just seems like an infringement of privacy. It seems like you’re outing someone. On so many levels, it seems wrong."

 

Wikipedia and Biography.com do not publish names without consent of the individual being written about. An actor told IndieWire that Wikipedia removed his name after it got published. Twitter also recently updated its "hateful conduct policy" to include "misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals."

Another actor told the outlet that IMDB changed their name on their profile only after "months of back and forth," though their birth name still appears in the bio section.

In response to the backlash, IMDB issued a statement to Deadline in which they said that users can use the "Edit" button to correct their page if they desire it, noting that birth names are a matter of public record and that they will not "alter or remove correct factual information from our records."

IMDb is committed to being the most authoritative and complete source of film, TV and celebrity information. Our users trust that when they use IMDb, they are receiving comprehensive and accurate biographical information.

IMDb strives to represent an individual’s gender identity while also accurately reflecting cast and crew listings as they appear in a production’s on-screen credits at the time of original release. When we become aware via our standard data contribution methods that an individual has changed their gender and/or name, we use the new gender and/or name on their page and credits. For productions they previously worked on, their credited name is also available in parentheses, in order to accurately reflect what was listed on-screen. This process is applied uniformly, consistently and without bias to preserve the factual historical record. For any individuals who wish to specify their preferred pronouns these can be recorded as part of their biography section.

Every page on IMDb has an ‘Edit’ button which any registered user can use to submit additions or corrections to IMDb content. Additionally, we have customer support staff to handle any question or request which, for any reason, can’t be communicated via our standard data contribution forms.

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