imdb
[photo via Unsplash]

IMDb has updated their policy after coming under fire for allegedly publishing the birth names of actors who are transgender without their permission.

The entertainment website shares information about films, tv, video games and more about cast, production and more.

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According to IndieWire, two transgender actors who have major television credits previously spoke about the issue. They said they could not get their birth names removed from their biographies on the site. Those actors have remained anonymous in the reports. They claim their management and GLAAD have done “extensive lobbying” and the site will not comply.

“It feels very exposing to have that information out there against my will as it is a private thing, and I would like to choose who I get to share it with,” one actor said. “With all the trans-related violence and murder, it seems very obtuse to refuse to remove information that could quite literally put people in danger.”

IMDb previously made a statement to IndieWire about the allegations.

“IMDb is committed to being the most authoritative and complete source of film, TV and celebrity information,” the statement begins. “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”. 

The statement added that there is an “edit” feature where any user can add or correct content.

Now, the company has updated the 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,” a spokesperson told Variety. “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”. 

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However, this doesn’t mean it will change for past films and shows. If an actor was credited under their birth name in a previous work, that name will still show up. This doesn’t change even if a user updates their profile. 

 “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,” the spokesperson said of that move. 

GLAAD, a media-monitoring organization focused on LGBT-related content, explains the dangers of deadnaming. It can be “a tremendous source of anxiety, or it is simply a part of their life they wish to leave behind”. 

It’s been reported that many other sites, such as Biography.com and Wikipedia don’t publish birth names. Wikipedia once published an actor’s birth name on their site. When the actor contacted Wikipedia, the platform complied. 

Other sites such as Twitter have policies against misgendering or deadnaming those who are transgender.

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