IMDb Changes Policy of Publishing Birth Names After Outcry from Transgender Community

IMDb is now accepting changes to its birth name policy after prominent members of Hollywood’s transgender community criticized the company for “dead-naming.”

The popular movie industry website has been under fire for months after members reported their birth names being publicized without their consent. IMDb announced the reversal in a statement to Variety, where it also outlined how industry professionals can contact the website to have the name removed.

“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 statement read.

Actress and activist Laverne Cox, one of the people affected by the policy, spoke out against IMDb just a day before the revision was announced.

“The process of dead-naming trans people is deeply, deeply traumatizing for a lot of us,” the Orange Is the New Black star told IndieWire, according to the outlet. “It’s tied to a larger system of disavowing who we are on a fundamental level in terms of our gender identity.”

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She continued, “Respecting trans people not wanting to be dead-named is a tricky thing. It’s very, very complicated because there’s a website that wants to be fully comprehensive, and then there’s just the deep, deep trauma and the abuse that actually can happen, too, when someone is dead-named. Abuse is often attached to that, and violence is often attached to that.”

On Tuesday, LGBTQ organization GLAAD praised IMDb for changing its policy to serve its transgender users better, but outlined ways in which the platform’s new system is still “imperfect.”

“Revealing a transgender person’s birth name without permission is an invasion of privacy that can put them at risk for discrimination,” said 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their old name for work in front of or behind the camera will still be affected by IMDb’s determination to publish outdated information,” the statement continued.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.”

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