Deadnames and deadnaming

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I think (without reading all of the previous posts) that we also need to be clear on what a ‘dead name’ is and is not, as well as how it does and does not apply to an artist name.

For example, using this specific case -
This person put out music under artist names of Eric Taxxon, Patricia Taxxon, and Tedrich Lendum.
This person, if I understand correctly, claims that Eric Taxxon was never their legal name.

So, if it isn’t a legal name, why isn’t it an artist name the same as Tedrich Lendum?

Do we change Tedrich Lendum because it is a ‘dead name’?
And if Tedrich isn’t a dead name - why not?

I can see if, as example, an accountant named John Smith becomes Jane Smith and becomes a musician - I can understand why the name John Smith doesn’t apply to MB and is easily considered a dead name, as there was no music released while living as John Smith.
But that is not what we have here. Here we have a person named X (using X because we don’t know a legal name), who put out music using 2 artist names (Eric and Tedrich), and then became Y (using Y because we don’t the the new legal name) and created a 3rd artist name that ‘replaced’ at least one of the artist names.

So, what is a dead name?


the real question surrounds deadnaming

from wiki: " Deadnaming is the use of the birth or other former name (i.e., a name that is “dead”) of a transgender or non-binary person without the person’s consent."

the important parts here imo are use and consent

i assume most trans artists would not consent to having release pages that show their deadname only with no context

i assume some trans artists would not consent to having release pages that show their deadname at all

i assume some trans artists would not consent to having their deadname anywhere in the db

we should ensure we have systems in place to help us present as much historical information as possible while ensuring we aren’t doing so in ways artists don’t consent to


That is a good question.
Probably one that should have been asked and answered much earlier in this conversation.

Objective and ignorant me would think, perhaps David Robert Jones is a deadname of David Bowie?
Then Prince Rogers Nelson would be the deadname of Ƭ̵̬̊
And William Bruce Jenner would be the deadname of Caitlyn Jenner.

So far I think I get the concept.

But what seems to make this such a sensitive and volatile issue here, is that when you do a google search on the word deadname, nine times out of ten the word ‘offensive’ is put into position.
(the term deadname in this context seems to be predomoinantly used in America b.t.w.)

What does that mean?

Are the people that ‘transitioned’ from one gender to another not proud of their trials, tribulations and accomplishments?
Are they offended when it is documented somewhere?
Do they want each and every testimony documented completely removed from all documentation and human history?

More specific and pertaining to MusicBrainz:
Would it be fair and honest to document that a Caitlyn Jenner won an Olympic gold medal?
Or was it Bruce Jenner that won the gold medal at the 1974 men’s decathlon?

These are probably the sort of questions that should be addressed and answered before any rules, possibly being based on some subjective and impossible to determine concept of something being ‘offending’ are dictated on others.

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This is why a rule (or even guideline) regarding that shouldn’t be based on preemptive “we’re going to change this in case it offends someone”, but on a clear reaction to the artist’s actions. As I mentioned above, my default preference would still be to change nothing, but if the artist is clearly trying to change this, then it seems fair to invoke artist intent for it and try to accommodate it as well as we can within the still-recording-history framework :slight_smile: And I don’t think this needs to apply only to transgender people. That said, I also think we shouldn’t assume that we know better than the artist and start making changes unless it’s clear that’s what the artist actually wants.

For example, and for your more “frivolous” changes - AFAICT Prince didn’t try to get all the old releases replaced by ones where the name was Ƭ̵̬̊. Had that been the case, and was the artist to try and replace the name like that, I feel this is a case where at least updating the release groups and whatnot would have been sensible. There’s been a few cases recently as well where bands have changed their names because they realized they were offensive to a set of people and their intention was not to offend anyone (Ó is the one that comes to mind now) - if they chose to go further down the line and also rerelease their old releases under this name specifically to override the old one, I’d also agree with us changing the release group and whatnot.

FWIW, I used to be a lot more harsh on this and agree with the position that “you put it out under that name first, you live with it” - but with time I’ve realized that doesn’t really help anyone, at least as long as it’s also findable under the old name in some way.


Wise words.
My personal position about the world and all of it’s beautiful and ugly facets is that I want to know about all of them.
I would hope that I can make the decisions, and form opinions on facts that are available to me, myself.
If a person, an ideology, or an institution tries to hide factual information, or tells me what words I can or can not use, I consider that a weakness and a problem.

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There are some things, though, that are just plain nobody’s business, like it or not. :neutral_face:


I’m not sure what you think that I like or don’t like, and how you would know about it.
Could you maybe explain what you are trying to say here in a way that would perhaps contribute to this discussion?

The term deadnaming isn’t very nebulous, it’s quite specific in a trans context. I don’t think this thread is an appropriate place to seek education on the topic, it’s our own responsibility to seek understanding of what’s involved here, and then come in with the ability to have educated input on the matter at hand. Similarly, it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to weigh in on all the classical style guidelines but ask other posters to explain all the terms and concepts of classical music to me as I go.

Presumably this reaction is totally different to getting ‘offended’?

Not deadnaming is pretty easy to be honest. If Caitlyn Jenner wanted to be known only as Caitlyn Jenner (up to her), then why not say that she won a medal at the 1974 mens olympics. Presumably if you were friends with her you wouldn’t insist on referring to her as Bruce half the time when talking in the past tense - that would be crazy and would feel terribly rude. The pushback against MB displaying that Patricia Taxxon (“who?”) released some albums in 2016 is a great example of some of the mainstream getting offended when they are asked to go even the slightest way out of their way to make a minor change that barely impacts them. If I can listen to a group of people saying “can you not, it’s harmful to us” without getting super mad that they would dare get offended by anything, ever, even if I don’t understand what they’re talking about, or if I even particularly wanted to do it in the first place, then I trust that everyone has it within themselves to do the same. Let’s relax, listen to them for a bit, and consider making some slight changes to help make others in our spaces safe and comfortable.


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…unless you were talking to her about the olympics?

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I would imagine Caitlyn and me would both agree that Bruce Jenner as a man won the decathlon Olympics.

If you don’t agree, you are probably saying that you don’t believe in transformation.

Do you really think Caitlyn would be okay with this flow of conversation:
“Hey, come meet my friend Caitlyn! She brought this lovely wine! And he won the 1974 decathlon medal! Isn’t she great?”

But really the key question is, if you can imagine that Caitlyn wasn’t okay with it, would you still insist on saying it?

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When I asked ‘what is a dead name’, it was rhetorical, part of a larger conversation. Not a request for someone to post a Webster’s link.

But not so easy if you are watching old olympic footage (they sell “commemorative videos” during every games) and you are listening to the announcers talk about Bruce Jenner winning a race.
Also, worth noting, fairly confusing if you look in new/edited history books and see that a female named Caitlyn won a men’s event.

MB is actually both - it needs to tag old, already produced, media. While also being the new/edited history book that reflects the current data.

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This is where you remain in the grips of an interpretation of gender that just about all trans-folk say doesn’t fit with their experience.

If you are either definitely a man or woman you could add to the available data around this by for 12 months doing the work of “transforming yourself into the opposite gender” and writing about your experience and how successful you were.
You could compare and contrast your experiences with those of David Reimer who was subjected to a far more rigorous regime than you’d hopefully subject yourself to. Transgender people’s expressed understanding leads to a prediction that you’ll still experience yourself as your current gender after 12 months of trying to transform.


I understand that, I was responding to discussion that was derailing into questions about a wider topic rather than the edits at hand. To your comment, briaguy gave us the general ‘deadnaming’ definition which imo suffices and is clear.

Yes, that is confusing. I don’t think Caitlyn Jenner would think it’s possible to scrub any mention of her previous name from the public consciousness (whether she would want to or not, I don’t know). But I maintain that even in this (the most extreme ever example of public transitioning?) it would be easy for you to say the words “Caitlyn Jenner” instead of “Bruce Jenner” yourself when referencing the Olympics (if this was her wish).

There are wider complexities that can be taken into account from a DB perspective (particularly with print releases :thinking:), but in this case, regarding malleable digital releases from a not particularly mainstream artist, I don’t think it should take that much to come to an agreement.

A trans community did have input on this subject, and they were incredibly scathing and disapproving of the MB approach and stance. That’s the basis of this whole thread. You initially put up the strawman of an imaginary Caitlyn Jenner rather than engage with those people.


Thanks, beautiful words, I will need to study them a bit more to fully understand them.
(I’m not a native English speaker)
Cut to the chase; do they mean that as easily a woman could have won the 1974 decathlon Olympics?

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my goal was to show that it’s not so much a matter of the name itself being harmful, but instead a matter of when and how the name is presented


They mean that most trans-folk report feeling something like that they’re expressing there all-along gender when they transistion.
So for them they say it is not that they change their true gender but they step into openly expressing their true gender.