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Under pressure from LGBTQ community, IMDb finally lets people remove birth names

Deadnames are finally dead on the Internet Movie Database.

Under pressure from LGBTQ community, IMDb finally lets people remove birth names
[Photo: Flickr user Ken Lund]

IMDb, the internet’s go-to resource for film and TV information, has finally relented to pressure from the LGBTQ community and is revising its policy on whether birth names must be included in its listings.

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Variety reports that a spokesperson for the site announced the revision on Monday, saying, “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.” It’s a win for the LGBTQ community and its allies, who view so-called deadnaming—or revealing the usually misgendered birth name of a trans person—as a painful, hateful, discriminatory act. Actress Laverne Cox has called deadnaming “the ultimate insult.” Nick Adams, director of trans representation at GLAAD, said last year, “To reveal a transgender person’s birth name without their explicit permission is an invasion of privacy that only serves to undermine the trans person’s true authentic identity, and can put them at risk for discrimination, even violence.” IMDb’s policy change reflects that reality.

The move also marks an evolution for IMDb, which in the past has adamantly refused to change the information it publishes on its site, even in the face of lawsuits filed by the very industry it covers. Last year, IMDb successfully argued that a California law—backed by the Screen Actors Guild and others—that made it illegal for IMDbPro to publish actors’ ages was unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds, even though the practice reportedly made it easier for Hollywood to discriminate based on age. That lawsuit is currently being appealed.

An IMDb spokesperson told Variety that removing a birth name from the database will now simply require reaching out to IMDb’s customer support staff to request a birth name removal. The spokesperson told Variety, “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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Melissa Locker is a writer and world renowned fish telepathist.

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