Handling name of transgender artist

Tags: #<Tag:0x00007f41a53437d8> #<Tag:0x00007f41a5343698>

Then present us with a link to a post where I called somebody thick or stupid in this thread.

The meaning of -phobia has changed long ago to include the meaning of -misia, but I think you know that. literally has different meanings. You can look them up in Merriam-Webster. I think you’re trolling.

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This is a reply to the latest reply to me, to clarify my position to everyone else, just not posted as a reply as the person has decided to leave the discussion.

These dictionaries are released by big institutions that don’t really take the perspective of LGBT+ people into account. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.
The definition I gave is a commonly agreed upon definition within LGBT+ circles, which I am using here, since I am LGBT+ (though not trans) and this issue affects LGBT+ people. There are no dictionaries necessary here, since language is fluid, as pointed out by others.

Secondly there is no persecution happening here. This isn’t McCarthyism where you are labelled a bad person and socially ostracised. It is merely a descriptive word which I am using to explain my view of the situation to you. This isn’t a judgement of your character or your value as a person. I don’t know you. Discussions like this ought to be candid IMO, otherwise this isn’t going to amount to much.
I agree that outward hostility isn’t very productive and often toxic, but so is expecting everyone to turn up to the discussion with a smile.
If you are so outwardly dismissive towards the view presented here, that you have to appeal to the dictionary, you can expect the people who are having this discussion on a daily basis to get angry. What did you expect?

The only thing I am asking of you is to listen and to respond thoughtfully and honestly.

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Without reading all of the previous comments (most of which seem to have turned into a ‘he said ze said’)…

I disagree with what IMDb did and truly hope that MB does not make the same mistake.

Using Ellen/Elliot Page (who is listed on both sites) as an example:
My copy of Juno says Ellen Page starred.
When I search for Ellen Page on IMDb, I get 0 results. This is a problem.

They changed the page name to Elliot (which is the correct way to handle a name change). But they did not leave “credited as”. They did not leave nick names, birth names, aliases, etc.
If it isn’t Elliot Page, it has been removed, it cannot be added, it cannot be searched.

This may be an acceptable situation in 2021 for an artist at the level of Ellen/Elliot Page, who has over 300,000,000 web hits. In 2021, it is quite easy to figure out that Ellen Page has been renamed Elliot Page.

But what happens:

  1. when it is a small time local artist that has 50 web hits.
  2. fifty years from now, in 2071, when my great grandkids watch am “old time” movie from pappies youth and want to look up what other movies Ellen Page was in?

Small artists - we already have enough of a problem dealing with them. Imagine if we “erase” their former artist names as well.

Bigger artists - most already use multiple names. I see no reason why we would need to erase all traces of past names.

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I feel this should be nothing more than any other name change. Change the main page title. Use the various ways we have for keeping past names intact. You can’t change history - the album jacket says ‘Person X’, we credit ‘Person X’ regardless of if they now want to be known as 'Person Y".

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Thing is, in the case of Taxxon’s works, she never actually had her names on those covers to begin with, so… :woman_shrugging:

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Which is an even bigger problem than the original issue.

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.
MusicBrainz has so many allowances that other sites do not. What another site does has no relevance here. Unless someone is familiar with MusicBrainz, they shouldn’t be making decisions for MusicBrainz.

*Luckily new editors can’t vote. They can voice opinions. But voting isn’t automatic.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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?

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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

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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.

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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?

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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).

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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.

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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:

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Kind of like alternative tracklists:

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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.

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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

then:

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

benefits:

  • 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)
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