IMDb Is Listing Transgender Actors’ Birth Names

Image via FX

Should We Be Protesting This Invasion Of Identity?

By now, I’m sure if you’re a part of the LGBTQ community, the struggle of our transgender brothers and sisters has touched our hearts. Chances are you have personally befriended a transgender person or simply empathize with their journey. Working in the entertainment industry, I’ve seen a growth in transgender representation both in front of and behind the cameras of Hollywood. I’m excited to witness transgender actors in the waiting room to audition for a role they normally wouldn’t have been seen for years ago. The outcry of having transgender actors is sometimes confusing: One cannot be an actor without taking the proper steps to enhance their talent, so people need to actually be good before they get hired. But, I think we can all agree we’re moving along slowly but surely in the entertainment industry. If you haven’t been hypnotized by the incredible ensemble on Pose or recognized Laverne Cox’s ability to land a role, you certainly have some studying to do. Yet, there seems to be a bit of an invasion of identity on one of the most popular entertainment websites.

According to The New York Times, the industry website IMDb is seemingly refusing to remove transgender actors birth names from their entertainment profiles. The practice of revealing a transgender person’s birth name is called “deadnaming”. IMDb released a statement, claiming they are dedicated to being the “most complete source of film, television, and celebrity information.” AKA: They aren’t going to remove birth names because they want to be entirely accurate on industry persons. Which, I completely understand – but, I can’t help but feel this is pretty cruel. I also have a nickname, but it likely won’t be on my tombstone. A transgender person’s identity and chosen name is in reality, them. For someone like Lady Gaga who bounces back and forth from her stage name to birth name, I think it’s entirely fine she has her most accurate information on the website and the like. However, transgender individuals should absolutely have the right to this information being released or not. Currently, IMDb is ignoring all requests to remove birth names. It kind of seems wrong. These performers are not someone like P!nk or Katy Perry using a pseudonym, these are their legit freakin’ names! Nick Adams, the director of transgender representation at GLAAD said:

“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.”

Last year, arguably the most well known transgender actress, the aforementioned Cox, took to her social media claiming deadnaming is “the ultimate insult”:

Do you believe IMDb having the birth names of transgender performers on their website is insulting?

Writer’s Note: This is the opinion of one Instinct Magazine contributor and does not reflect the views of Instinct Magazine itself or fellow contributors.

H/T: New York Times

5 thoughts on “IMDb Is Listing Transgender Actors’ Birth Names”

  1. Two questions for them.
    What is your purpose? How is it at all relevant?
    Because I can’t see any good that comes from knowing it, only harm. I honestly don’t really care what someones name was even if they are cis. I know the person by the name they sign, act, live in.

    It just shows that imdb is just a virtual rag and nothing more.

  2. IMDB, and all similar sites, need to understand that transgender people’s names are NOT “stage names.” I know they want to have “complete information,” but nobody needs to know somebody’s dead name. In fact, listing it amounts to transphobia. It’s discriminatory to claim it’s the same scenario as when a cis person takes on a new name for fun or marriage. To say these are the same thing, and they will not allow transgender people to have safety, is bad policy. There’s nothing stopping these websites from updating their style guides. They’re transphobic for denying trans people this privacy, and they are contributing to an environment where trans people are “convinced” to stay hidden (i.e. not take any kind of job that risks their privacy and safety). IMDB’s policy/style guide needs to be updated so that transgender people can feel free to enter the entertainment industry without having to deal with these catastrophic risks to their personhood.

  3. This is not “kinda” at all; this is abhorrent, offensive and unacceptable. IMBD must be brought to awareness or face consequences for deadnaming Trans people. It is not relevant information to the public and it is inaccurate. It is gossip at best and a moral outrage at worst. It is equivalent to calling Laverne Cox “he”. She is she and she is Laverne; that is her name for all possible informational uses pertaining to the entertainment industry where she works.


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