IMDb Reverses Transgender Birth Name Policy

GLAAD previously criticized movie database for practice it referred to as “deadnaming”

Last Updated: August 13, 2019 @ 10:21 AM

IMDb, the Internet Movie Database, is reversing its policy of listing the birth names of transgender individuals on their biographical pages after receiving criticism from the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD back in June.

The company will now allow for the removal of a person’s birth name if the name is not “broadly publicly known and the person no longer voluntarily uses their birth name,” according to an IMDb spokesperson. The person or their representative needs to contact IMDb customer support to request a birth name removal, and every occurrence of their name will be removed subject to a review process.

However, IMDb says that if an individual was previously credited on screen under a birth name, the credited name will remain listed in the credits section of the respective IMDb page in parentheses.

IMDb says the change comes in response to feedback received from transgender customers and other “entertainment industry thought-leaders.”

In June, GLAAD criticized IMDb for revealing trans actors’ birth names, which the group referred to as “deadnaming” and said amounted to an invasion of privacy. GLAAD further backed an actors’ guild legal challenge seeking to restrict what personal information the database could reveal.

Both GLAAD and SAG-AFTRA responded to the change in policy by saying that it’s an imperfect solution and that the database still has work to do in protecting the privacy of trans individuals.

“Revealing a transgender person’s birth name without permission is an invasion of privacy that can put them at risk for discrimination,”  Nick Adams, GLAAD’s director of transgender media said in a statement. “IMDb’s new policy is a step in the right direction and gives some transgender professionals in the entertainment industry the dignity and respect that they’ve long deserved – however, it remains imperfect.”

“Trans people with credits under their old name for work in front of or behind the camera will still be affected by IMDb’s determination to publish outdated information,” Adams continued. “The platform still has a long way to go in maintaining the privacy of all the entertainment industry professionals listed on the site. GLAAD and SAG-AFTRA, along with trans people working in Hollywood, will continue to advocate that IMDb create policies that respect everyone’s privacy and safety.”

SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris also provided a statement to TheWrap saying that the policy is a “half-measure” and that IMDb has admitted to invading the privacy of performers.

“While this half-measure is a step forward in protecting the personal safety of and reducing employment discrimination for transgender people, in revising its birth name policy, IMDb admits to invading the privacy of performers and putting them at risk for discrimination. IMDb can make no principled distinction to justify its arbitrary choices about when to invade the privacy of performers,” Carteris said.

Read the full statement from an IMDb spokesperson below:

In response to feedback we received from our transgender customers and other entertainment industry thought-leaders, IMDb has recently updated our birth name policy.

IMDb now permits the removal of birth names if the birth name is not broadly publicly known and the person no longer voluntarily uses their birth name. To remove a birth name either the person concerned or their professional industry representative simply needs to contact IMDb’s customer support staff to request a birth name removal.

Once the IMDb team determines that an individual’s birth name should be removed subject to this updated process, we will review and remove every occurrence of their birth name within their biographical page on IMDb.

For birth name removal requests pertaining to titles in which a person was credited on-screen as their birth name, their credited name will remain listed in the credits section of applicable IMDb name and title pages in parentheses. This is in order to continue providing IMDb’s hundreds of millions of customers worldwide with comprehensive information about film and TV credits, thereby preserving the factual historical record by accurately reflecting what is listed on-screen.