Trans actors criticise IMDb for publishing birth names without consent

Two transgender actors have spoken out about having their birth names published on the IMDb website without their permission.

Representatives of the actors, who spoke anonymously, told IndieWire they had not been able to remove the information from the website, despite lobbying from their management, agencies and the LGBTQ advocacy organisation GLAAD.

Speaking to the website, IMDb responded: “IMDb is committed to being the most comprehensive source of movie, TV and celebrity information.

“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.”

Deadnaming is the action of calling a transgender person by their former name instead of their new name, as a deadname is the name of a trans person prior to their transition.

It can feel invalidating and disrespectful as it highlights that the individual is not supported in their transition process, whether it’s before, during or after.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 22: TV Personality Caitlyn Jenner attends the Face Forward's 10th Annual "La Dolce Vita" Themed Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on September 22, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images)

Caitlyn Jenner was deadnamed by Amir Khan last year (Greg Doherty/Getty)

IMDb representatives told the website that an “edit” button is available on each page so registered users can submit corrections, but actors have highlighted they were unable to use the button.

One actor said they were not able to get IMDb to remove their birth name until 2017 after several months of campaigning.

Although their name was changed on their profile, the birth name still appears in the “bio” section and next to the roles they played.

The actor said: “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.

“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.”

Last year, Twitter banned misgendering or deadnaming transgender people as part of a crackdown on harassment and abuse.

The hateful conduct policy previously banned “repeated and/or non-consensual slurs, epithets, racist and sexist tropes, or other content that degrades someone.”

It now specifies that “this includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals” — deliberately referring to a transgender person with the wrong pronouns or using their pre-transition name.

Last year, former boxing champion Amir Khan misgendered Caitlyn Jenner on a Snapchat post where he labelled the former athlete with her deadname.