IMDB Allows Trans Actors to Remove Birth Names After Backlash

Indya Moore in Pose (2018) Titles: Pose, Giving and Receiving People: Indya Moore © 2018, FX Networks. All Rights Reserved.
FX Networks

IMDb will allow its users to remove birth names from the site following an outcry from transgender activists and actors, who criticized the Amazon-owned site for publishing their birth names without their consent.

“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,” an IMDb spokesperson told Variety this week.

The site said users can contact support staff to request the removal of a birth name.

“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.”

The use of a transgender person’s birth name without that person’s consent is often referred to as “deadnaming.”

SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents movie and TV actors, called IMDb’s decision a step forward for transgender people but still criticized the site for its privacy policies.

“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,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris in a statement.

“IMDb can make no principled distinction to justify its arbitrary choices about when to invade the privacy of performers.”

SAG-AFTRA is waging a separate battle against IMDb over the display of actors’ ages on the site.

The site had previously declined to change its birth-name policy, citing the need for historical and biographical accuracy. “Our users trust that when they use IMDb, they are receiving comprehensive and accurate biographical information,” the site said.

But pressure from activists ramped up in recent months, with GLAAD leading a group of other LGBTQ advocacy groups.

GLAAD said in a statement on its official Twitter account: “@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.”

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