Handling name of transgender artist

Which outsiders do you mean? As far as I can see, no one participating in the discussions and votes is a new editor. You don’t get to exclude casual users.

I do see a problem with requesting votes (although in this case, I see it as a valid stopgap), but I welcome that casual users are made aware of this discussion, because it concerns them.


this discussion goes beyond musicbrainz though

deadnaming is a real issue experienced by trans people

we should do our best to ensure the data in musicbrainz doesn’t provide tools for people seeking to out or harm trans people


Not sure where this has been indicated tbh.

If someone’s directly putting someone’s life in harms way with their actions, and doesn’t want to take into account (gets annoyed by the fact, even) that their situation might be different to what they’re accustomed to, the label ‘reactionary *phobe’ seems accurate.


WE are MusicBrainz. WE know all of the various ways we have for allowing multiple names to be used for the same artists. Outsiders do not. Many casual users do not.

As you have rightfully pointed out, new users can’t vote, which inhibits brigading for the most part. Everyone who has posted in this thread is just as much MB as you are. Dismissing us as casual users is not helpful. Just because your edit count is higher, doesn’t automatically make your opinion more correct. Looking at the linked voting issues in the OP, not even the auto editors achieved consensus, the people who according to your logic should know the project best.

On to the name lookup issue you’ve raised. Within some select instances I would consider this a minor issue and in most a non-issue. I think so because databases like MB and IMDB don’t only record names of people, but also the relationships those people have with other things. To go with your example of Juno and Elliot Page. Say you liked his performance in the film and decide to look him up on IMDB, but the name credited does not yield anything. What do you do next? You look up Juno. You scroll down to the cast list and find Elliot Page credited in the role of Juno MacGuff (the site even lists the original credit but whatever). No googling is necessary to get here.
Whenever you can put a name into a context with something else and that context is present in the DB, you will be able to figure this out.
Really the issue here is if someone looking things up in this scenario should be minorly inconvenienced, or if the wishes of the artist regarding their name should be respected.

There is a case where this wouldn’t work of course, and that is when you only have the name. Now, with a last name like Taxxon, even then you could probably find out easily, but I will totally admit that if it was something like Smith, your search might turn up empty. And honestly I don’t think that’s an issue as big as you are painting it. Most of the time you will have something to associate the name with and in the few cases you don’t, I would argue the wishes of the artist trump that.

If you don’t agree with that, fine but at least consider what I wrote above:

And if the other side is not willing to fully remove a person’s deadname form the DB, at least consider to what extend editing policy on MB could accommodate trans people. Being explicitly allowed to change names on Release Groups and Recordings would be a good start, with that being explicitly reflected in the style guidelines. The ticket @tastytea linked is also interesting, especially if auto taggers were to understand semantically that they should privilege official releases over withdrawn ones.

If my counterargument can’t sway you, does this at least sound agreeable to you?


using the Juno example, it seems imdb handles this better than MB does

while imdb does list Elliot Page’s deadname on the juno cast page, it doesn’t feel like deadnaming

the soundtrack cd release page on MB, on the other hand, only lists Elliot’s deadname (unless you hover, but that doesn’t count)

this happens despite the fact that editors have added end dates to the aliases for his deadname, and marked them as no longer current

that feels like deadnaming

the only way to get an imdb style listing with the current MB data model would be putting “name (as deadname)” in the “Artist as credited:” field, which doesn’t feel like a real soultion. at that point i’d rather just blank out “as credited” entirely


I am happy the recent comments all have been very constructive and less personal. I am sure we can discuss this with taking everyone serious, without accusations of bad intent, putting legitimate concerns and viewpoints into quotation marks or flagging posts out of disagreement.

Maybe we can get to some agreement on some baselines. First some facts:

  1. The name of the artist this debate arose around is Patricia Taxxon. That seems to be both her personal name and the name under which she expresses herself artistically.
  2. A few years back she released music under a different name, one that is perceived as a male name. She has changed all occurrences online of this to her current name (at least as far as it is under her control).

Also some difference between let’s say MusicBrainz and music and distribution platforms like Bandcamp, Spotify etc.:

Platforms like Bandcamp and Spotify allow an artist to both promote and distribute their music. The artist is free to choose how they are represented there and what parts of their music catalogue is available.

MusicBrainz (like Discogs and other music databases) on the other hand deal with the history of data. They record when what kind of music was released. They are not a promotional tool. Their goal is to document the release of music, hence historical accuracy is of importance for them.

I hope we can all agree on the above, no matter from which point of view we are coming from.

Now my take on the case. First the above should make it pretty clear that the usual / default approach for MB is to credit released music exactly how it is credited at time of release. So if names change this usually is reflected only on releases after the name change. That’s independent of the reason of the name change, which can be a change of the legal name for some reason or just change of an artistic name for any reason.

Now people changing the name because they want their name to reflect their gender identity is a special challenge for those people. I think @paulakreuzer explained this very well on her post at The Data Removal Policy and outing trans people. With all respect of being accurate in describing the past, it is also important to take care of an artist’s well being. Hence I think the naming style guidelines must be extended to give clear guidelines for trans people. As almost always, there is no one size fits all answer, it all depends on the specific case. I see a couple of cases, some of them more easy, others difficult.

  1. Some artists just keep their old music up under the old name. That can have various reasons. They might be personally fine with their past as long as they are treated as they wish now. It could also be a business decision, because the old name is just too popular to ignore. Whatever the reason, I think we all have no issue with this. The way the artist show their music matches how it is recorded. On MB the primary artist name will be set to their current name, releases will be credited accordingly.

  2. If an artist is really popular even before their transition this is well known. The artist might de-emphasize their older releases, there might be re-releases of old music under new name, re-recorded or not, but their original releases are very public and known to many. I think we must do our best to make sure the artist on MB fits the current name and identity, but we still should credit the original releases as they have been. If there have been re-releases under the new name they should be added as new releases.

  3. If artists are not well known, especially before their transition, things are very different. All of the issues of deadnaming can apply here, especially also issues of the artists health and well being. If the artist clearly shows that they don’t wish that their former name being used, we should try to respect this as best as possible.

In the given case I think there are quite some arguments in favour of changing the names to the current one. The artist has clearly changed all occurrences of her name online. The releases themselves have been out longer (I think, I don’t know exactly when the name changed, but it seems to be a while) under the new name then they had been available under the old. In any case they never prominently featured the artist’s name on the cover. And all releases have been digital.

I therefore think our guidelines should be extended to give better guidance on how to deal with transgender artists:

  • It should be encouraged that both release groups, works and recordings get credited under their current name, even if at the time of the first release they were known under a different name. At the very minimum this should apply when they also have released the same music under their current name.
  • We should come up with some criteria when it is acceptable to change the name on releases to the current name, even if at time of release another name was in use. This will be subject to discussion case by case I fear, as things like how popular an artist originally was, will not have a clear answer. Also it might just not be really possible, e.g. I don’t see this works well with physical releases or in general releases that prominently show the artist’s name on the cover or booklet.
  • The style guides should give some pointers to the issue of deadnaming to make editors sensitive for this issue.
  • How do we deal with the old name as an alias. Is it acceptable to keep the old name as a search hint? Or for which cases we want to avoid even that?

We could also discuss if in some cases it is better to distribute the two releases over two separate artists. In that case the old one would be merely an artistic persona. But it would give a clear separation in cases where someone really does not want their new name showing up anywhere in the current artist profile. I even have seen artists promoting their older works that way on their homepage.

I am also in favour of [STYLE-1885] Add “Withdrawn” as a Release Status. I like this very much. With the proper presentation it would allow us to still have these information available without it feeling like deadnaming, as @briaguya put it. It’s also useful in some other cases where artists do not want a release to exist, but due to lack of a time machine cannot change that.

I also find the arguments brought up by @zigg very convincing. Especially the view from someone making use of the database, who wants the current name to be shown, but still find the data with the old one. That definitely would be an argument to keep the old name as a search hint, have old releases available, but don’t list them by default and link them to updated versions of the same release showing the proper name. And for file tagging having the ability in the tagger to de-prioritize those “withdrawn” releases would be great. I’m happy to add this functionality to Picard as soon as the MB server has something like this implemented.

One thing to keep in mind is that MB always records it’s edit history, and is an open database so everyone can add information. No one can prevent someone to enter a release under the old name, and people might do so without even knowing. And then the fact that a person is transgender will e.g. show up in discussions like the one we are currently having, because you cannot discuss theses things without mentioning it. In the end I think once someone has publicly released something under a certain identity there is simply no way to get rid of this completely. But we should strive to represent the artist’s current identity as good as possible.

I don’t actually see much of a problem with requesting votes per se. It is quite common to have votes requested here or on IRC. Those are usually from inside the community. But the commentors on the external discussion who actually tried to be constructive and helpful all seem to have some experience with MB as editors and thus are part of our community, they are the ones who came over to vote. I have no issue with that, although I think it would have been better to raise this issue here on the forums additionally. As @jonny7 admitted above that they “had kind of hoped by doing these changes in small badges, I could get them passed, while avoiding a confrontation like this”. While I find this totally understandable, I think it was the wrong move here. Having it posted also here on the forums would have avoided the bad taste of this being an attempt to “brigading” (I don’t share this view, but I understand why it was perceived as such by some).

The actual issue I have with that external thread is that a few people there were quick to jump to conclusions while obviously not having the slightest idea of MB and its community, and some comments there are simply wrong, disrespectful and even insulting.


Wouldn’t the best way to handle this is to change their name and gender to their new one, and have all new releases follow that name, while retaining the old name but in the “credited as” as field, also adding their old name as an alias?


Still thinking about how to actually get to a satisfying solution for Patrica Taxxon. Looking at the open artist edits there seems to be a clearer support for having both release groups and recordings under the name Patricia Taxxon.

For changing the credits on the releases themselves things are much more controversial. But what comes up frequently in the discussion is that there should be two releases, one from before the name change and one for after. Yet I don’t see this to be the case currently on an of her release groups.

Should we come up with the conclusion that two distinct releases are the way to got, than this means all the edits currently trying to change artist credits on release level are wrong. Both those by @chaban, trying to change releases from Patricia to Eric, and by @jonny7, trying to change releases change from Eric to Patricia. Instead in all of those cases the existing releases should be treated as representing either the release from before or after the name change and the opposite release should be added.

It might not be totally perfect, but what do you all think of the following proposal? For all releases, that had been both available under the names Patricia Taxxon and Eric Taxxon:

  1. Set all recording and release group credits to “Patricia Taxxon”
  2. For existing releases keep their credits as they are
  3. Add a new release with the opposite name.
  4. For releases that get credited to “Patricia Taxxon” and have been available before set the release date to 2019-08-20 (that’s the end date of the “Eric Taxxon” alias).

I also added some comments to edit #80526174. There I was in favor of having only one release with changed credits, but I have the feeling the above might be the better compromise overall.

If we get to some agreement here, we could use this case as an example to hopefully make some progress in extending the guidelines. And we might be able to further improve the situation should we get some technical additions from the server side (but we all know that this usually takes its time).


As a temporary measure, it might suffice for now, until better guidelines are figured out like you said. I just hope it’s not seen as a permanent solution and forgotten about until the problem arises again, because we do need to find a proper - and ethical - solution.


Yes, I fully agree here. It’s a compromise, and as all compromises not a perfect solution. I’m myself not really happy with the idea of duplicating all the releases, as I don’t actually think the release changed or it was indeed re-released, rather we are correcting the metadata.

What would IMHO work better in regards to also maintain the original credits would be if we could set multiple artist credits on a release, maybe with valid until date, similar to how we have multiple aliases. Then we could have the credits all set to Patricia, but if it applies also have one older credit for the affected releases. That would result in each release only listed once, still showing proper credits while still being historical correct.

But we don’t have that now, just like we don’t have marking releases as “withdrawn” :frowning:


Kind of like alternative tracklists:


I’d say that outsidecontext has made a good compromise here, until a better solution is available.

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Wait. Not so fast.
Today Juno has the “credited as”.
That is not IMDb policy (unless they’ve seen the error of their policy and changed it again).
But considering that there is a Ellen Page profile that didn’t exist a week ago, it is now blank, and all Elliot Page credits display the “credited as”… I would be willing to bet that someone had a copy of Juno and added the missing Ellen Page credits. And then, through a series of merges, the “credited as” remained.

Even with the “credited as” appearing today, the page for Elliot Page does not appear in search results for Ellen Page.


But now, comparing that to MB -
True, MB and IMDb display “credited as” differently. IMDb appears as “Person 2 (credited as Person 1)”, whereas MB displays only “Person 1” with the link (and hover text) showing “Person 2”.
And, to me, that is fine. They are different places with different purposes. They shouldn’t have to do things the same. That is how MB handles name changes.
Think of it - someone changed their name. Artists do it all the time.

my earlier reply touches on why that isn’t ideal. using “credited as” on a release hides all mention of the non “as credited” name on the release page

that feels like deadnaming, as it is directly referring to the artist by their deadname

i’m not a big fan of this for a few reasons, @outsidecontext already mentioned one

also, the date on the updated release would feel incorrect, as it’s not a date related to the release, but instead when the artist stopped using their deadname

my proposal

as a stopgap:

  • Set all recording, release group, and release credits to “Patricia Taxxon”
  • Leave the deadname alias on the artist page as is
  • Add a note to the annotation about Patricia originally being credited by deadname


  • figure out a technical solution for using “credited as” without creating release pages that refer to artists by deadname alone (unless you hover)


  • no dupes
  • keep searchability (aliases with end dates still work for search)
  • no losing data, as it will be in the annotation (and edit history)

Think of it - someone changed their name. Artists do it all the time.

Yes, but under completely different circumstances. A trans person’s name change isn’t some Ferry Corsten-esque whim, it’s a process of abandoning what they were expected and raised to be, against who they really were, and having to be referred to by their deadname is often seen as a denial of their true selves by others, and believe me, having to see my deadname on official documents and bank statements is pretty numbing, as is the biases and stereotypes that more often than not come with being perceived as male as a result of my deadname when communicating with others. :weary:


yes, musicbrainz is a public site that anyone can browse. we should try to ensure data is presented in a respectful way

this isn’t data layer, it’s presentation layer

if “credited as” was displayed as it is on imdb, the fact that the deadname is a historical name would be obvious

…but that’s not

so i proposed finding a technical solution that would allow for more respectful presentation of “credited as” data, and a stopgap solution of moving data from a structured field that is presented disrespectfully, to a freeform field that where the data can be respectfully presented

that means someone on MB saw an issue that wasn’t getting enough attention, and now there’s a discussion happening about how to change that. seems reasonable to me.

also, using scare quotes around transition is disrespectful.


That this hasn’t been picked up by staff yet is crazy. @Freso? @reosarevok? Just make a call/raise it to wherever it needs to be, a polarised community discussion like this is just plain harmful.

That is a total mischaracterization of the situation, deadnaming is a very specific case that is pretty much unrelated to other artist “name changes”.

What is the “purpose” in seeking out trans artists and making edits that could be harmful to them? Do you have a collection with a lot of trans artists that you are trying to tag?


I want to comment on the two proposals made by @outsidecontext and @briaguya. I favour the former’s proposal with some caveats, but let me first explain what I don’t like about the latter.

Having a singular release with some kind of “credited as” solution, doesn’t reflect the current state of the release. Patricia Taxxon’s releases right now are solely credited to that name. Maybe a satisfactory technical solution for this specific case is possible, but this seems unnecessarily specific to me. It’s also not clear to me how this approach could be translated to physical releases then.

Onto the approach I favour. While I agree that having duplicate releases is a bit unfortunate, this seems like the only decent solution to me, if the old data is to be retained in the DB somehow. Technically no new release took place, but a lot of major things about the release changed (not only the credit but also purchase/download URL). I can see both sides here. Maybe to acknowledge the fuzziness of the situation, the new release could have the same release date as the original, just with all the data adjusted. I would certainly find it weird seeing all those releases of her’s showing up in the same year when browsing my music collection. This approach is also directly compatible with this situation happening for a physical release.
I share @briaguya’s concerns about deadnaming via the “credited as” field, though. Even if the “withdrawn” status for releases is introduced, it doesn’t feel quite right. So my question is, would it be possible to adjust the web interface, so that instead of just printing the direct credits, it does what IMDB does (X (credited as Y))? This might be a bit annoying visually on releases where, for example, the artist name and credit only deviate in capitalisation, but I think it would be worth it. Defaults like this matter a lot, since anyone who intends to build some application on MB, is going to look at how the project handles its own dataset first for inspiration.
The only thing I’m not sure about is if on the original release, the original download/buy URL should be kept. It is kind of deadnaming, though it was an important data point for the release, and more generally I’m not sure if dead links like that should be kept at all.


When a URL relation is no longer valid, which would presumably be the case for the official websites for a “withdrawn” release, it should be marked as ended, with the relevant end date if known.


i think that is one possible way to address the technical solution part of my proposal

i also think that might make a bunch of other releases look really messy (Artist A (credited as artist.A) feat. Artist B (credited as b), Artist C (credited as C the Artist), and Artist D)

since the “credited as” field is plaintext and doesn’t link to aliases, there’s no way for the frontend to know when it’s appropriate to use the “credited as” name exclusively and when it’s not

i think a way to tie aliases to “credited as” would allow for flexibility in presentation.
for example, an alias could have a:

  • “hidden” mode, where credits could appear as “Artist name [info]” where [info] links to the alias
  • “credited as” mode, “Artist A (credited as B)”
  • “replace” mode, where the alias is used exclusively.

all current “credited as” strings could become aliases in “replace” mode, as that is how those strings are currently presented. then, we just switch the deadname aliases to something other than “replace” mode and all those credits would be displayed respectfully