IMDb's policy is transphobic and harmful and it needs to change

  • 6
  • Idea
  • Updated 4 months ago
  • (Edited)
I understand that IMDb wishes to remain accurate, but their current policy most certainly needs to be changed, as it can be dangerous to some actors. As an actor, I believe that an actor’s feelings should come before “accuracy.” Actors are real people with real feelings and real experiences. Transgender actors exist, as do actors who have suffered an abusive past. 

I can understand connecting “typos” to the same name, as I wouldn’t care so much if I was connected to “Rory Roach” or “Rory Roache,” etc. However, the name in question, which I will NOT be typing again because the very sight of it makes me PHYSICALLY ILL, is from a part of my life that in keeping it plastered on my IMDb credits, puts me in great danger. I will not and should not have to explain my personal life in order to have this name removed. I simply expect this request to be understood. I’ll explain in more detail. 

As I said, transgender actors exist. Some, in fact, have acted since before coming out as transgender, and some have been out since before IMDb even existed. That said, transgender people face many dangers. Forcing them to be known as a name that they don’t associate with could out them and in turn, result in their murder. Your policy forces this, and therefore, in that case, should be held responsible for any murder committed because of this. I’m sure you don’t want that. Furthermore, it can and does cause them harm to see a name they never wanted in the first place. 

As for abuse survivors, forcing this alternate name could result in the actor’s abuser finding them and causing more harm. Do you wish to cause harm to the actor? 

I’ve been more than patient with this issue. I’ve expressed how seeing this name, attributed to a very bad part of my life, makes me feel. I understand you wish to give accurate information, but it will not hurt someone to be a little confused by different credits. It does, however, hurt me greatly every single time I see this name. 

I’ve offered the solution of deleting, but as I had to fight tooth and nail for a credit in the first place, from abusive directors, I’ve opted to keep my credit. However, the solution now is to mark it uncredited. Accept this solution. This is no longer a request. You are hurting me and I believe that my feelings and my health come before “accuracy.” The “alternate name” is no longer connected to any existing human, and certainly not to me, so in truth, regardless of film credit, your forceful policy is creating the largest inaccuracy. This alternate name does not exist. Listing me as [uncredited] is a solution for both of us. The alternate name doesn’t exist, and Rory J. Roche did not receive credits despite participating in the film. I’ve already expressed that Savior never made it to DVD, so I cannot provide “proof” of any credit. 

I also deleted credits that I do not want. I want nothing to do with the three credits due to personal trauma to do with the show. Things happened that I do not need to discuss, but I do not want to be known for these things. 

Please reconsider your policy, and make it safe for actors that do not fit into your tiny boxes. And while you’re at it, please add more genders to the list. Not everyone is male or female. Intersex people exist. Transgender, nonbinary, genderfluid, and agender actors exist. If you’re confused about a pronoun to use, provide a slot in which the actor in question can tell you their pronoun. Simple. 

Thank you, 
Rory J. Roche

This is what I had posted to IMDb support. They accepted the change to uncredited, however, they have since changed it back to a name that I do not associate with and it's sickening. I am absolutely sick of this battle. I only want to be credited as Rory J. Roche, or uncredited, or simply not credited at all. Their constant issue with this is transphobic and disgusting. At this point, it is harassment. They're forcing me to use a name that isn't mine. They need to fix this and they need to make it more trans friendly. The actor and their feelings/health/safety should come before "accuracy."
Photo of Rory Roche

Rory Roche

  • 2 Posts
  • 1 Reply Like
  • frustrated

Posted 1 year ago

  • 6
Photo of Twintalks A life in the fag lane

Twintalks A life in the fag lane

  • 1 Post
  • 4 Reply Likes
Everyone should be respected. IMDB step your game up. Trans people exist and have feelings just like you. Imagine if this was your family or child. Get over yourself and give trans people the respect they deserve!
Photo of Nikolay Yeriomin

Nikolay Yeriomin, Champion

  • 2172 Posts
  • 2668 Reply Likes
Hello, Rory.
 
Is that your page? 

Unfortunately, IMDb is a database which covers factual information about films and people involved. If you were credited by this name in your previous works, then filmography should display that. Likely the name could have been added by people who have seen the film, discovered the difference in the credits and did the right thing by correcting the listings according to the credits. However if you were not listed by that name on any title, that should indeed be removed and "(uncredited)" attribute should be instated.  

IMDb's policy is not in any way transphobic. It is quite progressive. It's just that IMDb collects factual information, which should be preserved, because it is plastered all over the film. Even if changed, it will eventually be corrected by someone, because movies are watched and people are re-checking end credits from time to time. A good example of a transgender person's page (in my humble opinion) is Alexis Arquette

That said, there are indeed problems with that. I won't pretend that I have full understanding of such situations, but I will try to help in any way I can.   
(Edited)
Photo of Jason Loric

Jason Loric

  • 1 Post
  • 3 Reply Likes
Oh really? I recently went to look up Kinley Mochrie and noticed how she was labeled an 'actor' and had he/him pronouns used on here and felt that using her deadname was all right. How is that progressive or acceptable?
Photo of Nikolay Yeriomin

Nikolay Yeriomin, Champion

  • 2172 Posts
  • 2668 Reply Likes
Trying to update Mochrie's page now to change the gender to "Actress" with "He" and "Him" changed to "She" and "Her". Trivia section seems to be intact with the right gender. It will hopefully change in 48 hours or less if nothing gets in the way. If you know of any more such cases I encourage you to submit information here or correct it yourself which is done by pressing "Edit Page", choosing a field of "Gender" and then correcting one by unticking "Male" and ticking "Female" plus providing the explanation in "Miscellaneous Comments".  

As for that concept of a "deadname" - I have already said what is the problem here. If the person was credited under that name in the credits, it should be indicated in the IMDb listings. Otherwise it would create a mess and a constant edit war between users who will try to update the listings according to what end credits say and it will be constant, because there are a lot of users like me who do casual updates re-checking the end credits and there is no way to have everyone informed that a single person out of a few millions listed on database shouldn't have alternate name listed. Making some people having more rights then the others in that field is not very acceptable and progressive either. 

In case of Rory, by the way, that name is seen all over the official site of hers on the cover of the novel she wrote. I don't see how IMDb listings are endangering and disrespectful while official site is not. Then again, I have never been in the situation myself so I'm not trying to pretend I have a full understanding of it. In order to have such IMDb should probably consult transgender people specifically.  
Photo of Kelly L.

Kelly L.

  • 52 Posts
  • 44 Reply Likes
Although I have no problem whatsoever with transgender people, I do agree with Nikolay that if you were credited under a particular name, regardless of the reason for the past or present use of another name, then you should remain listed as having been credited under that name. Rory, I do understand your concerns, but a balance has to be found between those concerns that many transgender people have vs. the public's right to know the connection between a credit and who had the part.

There are some cases where a transgender person would have a justification for not having their birth name posted - such as if they had no pre-transition credits and do not want to be outed (IMDb does not normally remove information like that upon request, but since their policy is also not to post information about one's sexuality or medical history, you'd have a tangible case there since your old name would merely be trivial and not necessary to identify what you've done). However, if work under your birth gender is already an integral part of your filmography, then it should stay for reasons that have been mentioned.

ETA: In case you're wondering, IMDb does not split a person's filmography up either for any reason.
(Edited)
Photo of Kelly L.

Kelly L.

  • 52 Posts
  • 44 Reply Likes
It's the same as with any other kind of employment - you cannot leave out pre-transition parts of your work history (if asked) without risking it being construed as a misrepresentation, even if you don't want to be associated with your birth gender/name anymore.
Photo of Rory Roche

Rory Roche

  • 2 Posts
  • 1 Reply Like
Firstly, I didn't ask for the opinion of cis people. I gave you a suggestion to make the policy better and safer for everyone. Cis people wouldn't understand what it's like because they've never experienced it. Secondly, you don't get to determine what is or is not transphobic. You've proven with your language that you and your policy is transphobic. My imdb itself refers to me as an actor and uses they pronouns but you went ahead to call me "she" which is rude and disrespectful and guess what? TRANSPHOBIC. The book you mentions isn't even out anymore for the same reason but your stupid site is being so difficult that I didn't get the dead link taken down yet.

It really wouldn't kill you to make it so that an actor doesn't need to have credits they don't want. It could kill them though. You could even make it so that an actor can opt that only people they give permission to can alter their credits. Why should a random stranger be able to? That's dangerous! People are sick. People make things up. People start rumors. If you're not going to fix this, take me off imdb altogether because I want absolutely nothing to do with such a willingly transphobic company.
Photo of Kelly L.

Kelly L.

  • 52 Posts
  • 44 Reply Likes
Rory - MANY people in the entertainment industry, for many different reasons, have asked IMDb to remove their credits. I do not know of any cases where IMDb has removed a factually correct credit associated with a publicly released work due to personally not wanting to be associated with it. All these cases include among others those who once worked in the porn industry, films that they now disagree with for political or other reasons, directors they didn't liked, and transgender people like you.

We have even had an actress sue IMDb in court to remove her date of birth because of age discrimination. Guess who won? Not her. To counteract that California has even tried passing a law forcing sites like IMDb to remove ages or dates of birth upon request. IMDb is challenging that law, and while it's still pending, the court suspended enforcement of the law for now given its questionable constitutionality (in terms of free speech rights). That indicates about how much luck you'll probably have if you'd like to legally challenge this policy.
(Edited)
Photo of Emma Arpin

Emma Arpin

  • 7 Posts
  • 4 Reply Likes
Credits can be updated and so can policies. The current policy willfully ignores how third parties can, and do, use information provided on the site to discriminate trans people in employment, housing, and their social life.

The policy is also at odds with Amazon's recent statement of support for the trans community. Amazon signed on a letter with other tech companies this fall, that said “What harms transgender people harms our companies.”
Photo of Jeorj Euler

Jeorj Euler

  • 6572 Posts
  • 8123 Reply Likes
You can never expect to achieve what you would like by being hostile to the powers that be.
Photo of TheMelancholicAlcoholic

TheMelancholicAlcoholic

  • 5 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
"You can never expect to achieve what you would like by being hostile to the powers that be"
A good recipe for cowardice. 
Tell George Washinghton that. If Martin Luther King, or Ghandi had thought like that, we would still have separate lunch counters and drink fountains, and India would still be a colony of England. Regards, #TheResistance
It's weird that IMDb prefers to have transgender people beaten up or worse, for the sake of "accuracy".
Bet if it was about Jewish-Americans, it would be done. Do transgenders have to have six million of theirs killed too, before you listen? Or is the present number of 1000s getting beaten up or publicly humiliated enough? 
Photo of Jeorj Euler

Jeorj Euler

  • 6548 Posts
  • 8073 Reply Likes
In George Washington's case, he was the power that be. In Martin Luther King's case, he wasn't particularly hostile, and he had a lot of help from people belonging to the "majority group", thanks largely to not antagonizing the helpful ones. Likewise for Ghandi. Take care not to go around picking a fight with somebody is not explicitly against you.
Photo of Kelly L.

Kelly L.

  • 52 Posts
  • 44 Reply Likes
Following on what I said when this topic was originally posted, the reason this transperson's birth name is shown is not to intentionally harm him, nor is it even done for trivial/biographical reasons. He is credited in publicly released works under that name, and since IMDb has a very strict policy about not deleting factual credits or splitting a person's filmography for reasons of not misleading the public into thinking the works are done by two different people, those credits under his former name should stay. If anything, creating a carve-out here for transgender people is not fair to those who may want their filmography redacted or split for other reasons.

ETA1: Your analogy of racial segregation fails because there black people were wanting the same rights as whites, no more and no less. This transperson wants IMDb to create a special exemption to its credit rules.

ETA2: I agree that a transperson's birth name should not be publicized or asked for when it is not relevant to the issue in question (same thing about their surgical status, etc.). Rory's case on IMDb is different because the old name is relevant since he had been credited under it. In the context of IMDb, an example where the birth name would not be relevant would be a transperson whose filmography entirely postdates their social transition (and there I agree that the birth name should not be mentioned in the biography unless it's already "common knowledge" to the public since then there's no practical need to know the name to identify credits unlike in this discussion's case).

ETA3: Notice that I am not transphobic (e.g. I refer to Rory using the pronouns of the gender he identifies with), but a balance needs to exist with not "deadnaming" a transperson for an inappropriate or no reason vs. mentioning the name to properly identify what they've worked on.
(Edited)
Photo of Jeorj Euler

Jeorj Euler

  • 6548 Posts
  • 8073 Reply Likes
Photo of Ed Jones (XLIX)

Ed Jones (XLIX)

  • 10845 Posts
  • 12286 Reply Likes
I'm surprised that an IMDb Employee or Board Administrator has not chimed in on this!
Photo of Jeorj Euler

Jeorj Euler

  • 6572 Posts
  • 8123 Reply Likes
Why so surprised?
Photo of Ed Jones (XLIX)

Ed Jones (XLIX)

  • 10845 Posts
  • 12286 Reply Likes
7 Months old?
Photo of Jeorj Euler

Jeorj Euler

  • 6572 Posts
  • 8123 Reply Likes
Quite frankly, it is surprising that the topic was not deleted or archived with expediency. Perhaps a sort of nullification was and remains afoot. Nikolay Yeriomin is a forum administrator, by the way, and he replied almost immediately. Notice the remark, "I didn't ask for the opinion of cis people", from the creator of this topic? That right there kind of shutdown all reasonable dialog on the matter. Two can play that game, so to speak. Whatever.
Photo of Ed Jones (XLIX)

Ed Jones (XLIX)

  • 10845 Posts
  • 12286 Reply Likes
Back to My surprised part again. As for the chimed in. That would include closing the thread.
Photo of Jeorj Euler

Jeorj Euler

  • 6572 Posts
  • 8123 Reply Likes
Well, "nullification", as I call it, is not really all that unusual around here.
Photo of Ed Jones (XLIX)

Ed Jones (XLIX)

  • 10845 Posts
  • 12286 Reply Likes
There is a lot of things to notice overall. Plus people have things that interrupt them.
If no one replies and it's a busy post day, this could have been 10 pages down and forgotten.
Photo of Emma Arpin

Emma Arpin

  • 7 Posts
  • 4 Reply Likes
It's been almost a year, and IMDb has not updated this policy. What's going on? Revealing trans people’s deadnames by listing it in the birth name section or in the case of credits, like Current Name (as Deadname), puts them at risk for discrimination in the film industry, other day jobs, housing, and their social life in general. IMDb is one of top google results for most people.

I realize that IMDb has a policy to publish and maintain “factual information,” but IMDb needs to take responsibility for how their service affects people for the rest of their lives. Many of the credits that get listed on IMDb are small projects, like youtube videos and student projects, which don’t really reflect someone’s professional work history. According to your system, a young person who volunteers as a PA or background actor, works on a student project, or youtube video, should be punished for the rest of their life, if someone happened to deadname them in the credits.

Similarly, publishing people’s deadnames in the “birth name” section of your site puts them at risk. IMDb assists third parties in discrimination, and it punishes trans people for sharing their experiences with the world through productions like Orange is the New Black, Pose, Transparent, and many smaller projects. The majority of trans people listed in your database are not celebrities known to the general public before transition, such as Caitlyn Jenner.

Until about a month or two ago, IMDb also had a policy that said, "We generally use people’s biological or surgically reassigned gender” to determine the designation of gender specific titles, like actor or actress. I saw that you changed this policy, after it was pointed out that it was at odds with Amazon’s own corporate stance. Amazon signed a letter in support of the trans community, following the legal erasure of trans people in the United States this past fall. IMDb, as a part of Amazon, needs to take responsibility for how the site affects the trans community. You can’t take credit for supporting the community, while ignoring the harm that your services cause.

There are simple solutions to this issue, such as allowing trans people under certain circumstances to update credits and/or the splitting of IMDb pages in limited cases. Additionally, there is no purpose, beyond selling gossip, in publishing trans people’s deadname in the “birth name” category of the site. This situation isn’t like actors who happen to take on a stage name or a maiden name.

(Edited)
Photo of Emma Arpin

Emma Arpin

  • 7 Posts
  • 4 Reply Likes
This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled IMDb shows indifference to the trans community.

IMDb shows indifference to the trans community through several policies. One of the most troubling examples of this pattern is the deadnaming—using the name assigned at birth—of trans talent, crew, writers, producer, directors, etc. IMDb deadnames people through two separate methods.

In the first, IMDb lists the “birth name” of people in the biography section of the site, and I can easily find examples of trans celebrities who are currently being burned this way. Listing the deadnames of trans people this way serves little purpose,
other than selling gossip, at the expense of trans people. This
situation isn't like actors who previously used a maiden name, or happen
to have taken on a stage name.

In the second, IMDb insists on listing credits as “Current Name (as Deadname),” if the person previously received an IMDb credit under their deadname. Some might say that if a person previously received a credit, this credit should stand, so that people can track a person over the course of their career. This thread ignores how the majority of trans people listed on IMDb are not celebrities who were known to the general public before transition, like Caitlyn Jenner. IMDb significantly lowered the bar for what qualifies for a listing over the years, and now, many of the listed projects are web videos, hopeful student projects, short films, and projects that never screen.

The majority of people listed on IMDb are working class people who are fighting for employment in the industry, and IMDb’s method of deadnaming trans people assists third parties in discrimination in the film/tv industry, other day jobs, housing, and their social life. IMDb is one of the top google results for most people. IMDb would punish a young person for the rest of their life for volunteering as a PA, background actor, student project, or web video through deadnaming them.

This could easily be solved by 1. allowing trans people to update their credits under certain circumstances and/or 2. allowing trans people to “split” IMDb pages in limited circumstances. Credits can be updated, and so can policies.

Until about a month or two ago, IMDb also had a policy that said, "We generally use people’s biological or surgically reassigned gender” to determine the designation of gender specific titles, like actor or actress. I noticed that this changed after it was pointed out that the policy was at odds with the corporate stance of Amazon, IMDb’s parent company. Amazon, along with other tech companies, signed on a letter of support for the trans community, after the legal erasure of trans people this past fall. While IMDb changed the wording of this policy, they still misgender non-binary actors who do not fit into “actor” or “actress.” This could easily be solved by creating a single category of “actor” for all performers.