Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled After pressure from LGBTQ groups, IMDb agrees to let users change birth names
Photo: Andrew Toth (Getty Images for IMDb)

The weird irony of IMDb is that anyone can submit obviously bogus cast lists for upcoming movies that may or may not exist (throwing the entire purpose of the website into disarray) but altering any sort of data about actors themselves is completely out of the question—to the point where California briefly tried to pass a law that would force IMDb to allow actors to remove their real ages from the site upon request. That whole thing fell apart, partially because of the argument that it should be the movie studios and producers that are responsible for not discriminating against people based on their age, not a website that is simply listing public information.


Now, after facing pressure from a group of national LGBTQ organizations, IMDb has agreed to stop listing the birth names of transgender people in the entertainment industry—a.k.a. “dead-naming.” In a statement given to Variety, an IMDb representative said that the site “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.” If someone requests to have their name removed and IMDb approves that request, the birth name will be replaced on their biographical page. However, for existing credits that listed a person’s birth name, that name will still remain (though it will be in parentheses) in order to preserve “the factual historical record by accurately reflecting what was listed onscreen.”

SAG-AFTRA was involved in the push to make this happen, and the union is also using this opportunity to point out how unhappy it is with that aforementioned “real ages” thing. In a statement of its own, SAG-AFTRA referred to this as a “half-measure” that doesn’t do enough to protect the privacy of people in the entertainment industry, given “arbitrary choices” like continuing to list birth names in credits and refusing to allow the removal of real ages.

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