On Monday, IMDb revised its policy in regards to the publication of removal of birth names after the backlash for publishing the birth names of transgender performers without their consent — also known as “deadnaming”. Prior to the revisions, performers issued complaints about the difficulty in removing birth names but the site now permits it. Both GLAAD and SAG-AFTRA have issued statements in regards to IMDb’s revisit to their policy.
“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 in a statement given to Deadline.
Under the new policy, the IMDb team will determine whether or not an individual’s birth name should be removed. IMDb’s statement about the new policy also states “birth name removal requests to titles in which a person was credited on-screen as their birth name, IMDb said that their credited name will remain listed in the credits section of applicable IMDb name and title pages in parentheses.”
“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their old name for work in front of or behind the camera will still be affected by IMDb’s determination to publish outdated information.” he added, “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.”
SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris added to the sentiment in a statement: “While this half-measure is a step forward in protecting the personal safety of and reducing employment discrimination for transgender people, in revising its birth name policy, IMDb admits to invading the privacy of performers and putting them at risk for discrimination. IMDb can make no principled distinction to justify its arbitrary choices about when to invade the privacy of performers.”
“IMDb has more work to do. SAG-AFTRA and its allies continue to fight to protect all performers and for enforcement of California’s anti-age discrimination law,” she continued. “This change in birth name policy should help make it clear to the appellate judges that the harm here is fundamental and compelling, and that California law AB 1687 is necessary in order to remedy IMDb’s discriminatory practice.”
In June, GLAAD signed on to support SAG-AFTRA in the fight against IMDb from publishing performers’ private information. Other LGBTQ organizations including the National LGBTQ Task Force, the Transgender Law Center, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, Transcend Legal, Inc, and the Equality Federation also signed on. GLAAD and other organizations called for change via numerous media appearances and at industry events. In a legal filing, the coalition of organizations joined SAG-AFTRA in speaking out against the continued publication of the birth names of transgender performers and people in the entertainment industry without their consent.
In addition, SAG-AFTRA has been fighting for enforcement of California’s anti-age discrimination law, known as AB 1687, which requires subscription-based entertainment casting databases such as IMDbPro to remove paid subscribers’ date-of-birth information from its websites, including IMDb.com, upon request. In February 2018, a judge stopped enforcement of the law. SAG-AFTRA and its allies are currently appealing that ruling with oral argument before the Ninth Circuit scheduled on September 9.