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IMDb allows transgender people to remove birth names, with warnings

You can no longer find Laverne Cox's birth name on her IMDb page.
Photo: Getty Images

After criticism, IMDb has decided to allow transgender moviegoers to remove their birth names in credits – in some circumstances. As it stands, the site will allow users to remove a person's birth name if that person no longer voluntarily passes it, and it is not widely known to the public.

The revised policy refers to the practice of "deadnaming." In the trans community, it specifically refers to when someone refers to a transgender with the name they used before transitioning – either intentionally or unintentionally. The issue arose earlier this year when IndieWire reported that IMDb refused to remove the birth name of two carriers with large TV credits, even though the site did not have its consent to publish the names. In the report, IMDb cited anti-discrimination laws as a reason for not removing birth names, even though they were lobbying from the Hollywood leadership, talent agencies and GLAAD. The stated logic allowed a group to change certain information would open the floor for other groups to do the same. Later in June, the SAG-AFTRA trade union announced a coalition with national LGBTQ groups against the practice.

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Variety broke the news of the revised policy in an exclusive on Monday, quoting an IMDb spokesman saying: "IMDb now allows the removal of birth names if the birth name is not widely known and the person no longer voluntarily uses his birth name. "The spokesman also clarified that" When the IMDb team decides that an individual's birth name should be removed – provided the updated process – we will review and remove every occurrence of their birth name within their biographical page on IMDb. "

While politics is a step in the right direction, it obviously has some gaps. IMDb stated that in the event that a trans person was credited prior to the transition, their birth name would remain listed in points within brackets. This applies to professionals who work in front of or behind the camera. The New York Times noted that although actress Laverne Cox's page no longer mentions her birth name, both Chaz Bono and Caitlyn Jenner's birth names are listed for productions they played in before moving on and their biography pages.

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