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Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth

The American Medical Association Recommends Dropping 'Sex' From Birth Certificates

This change would be "a valuable first step" in addressing "the inequities transgender and intersex people face," the group says.

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Photo: George Heyer, Three Lions, Hulton Archive (Getty Images)

Right-wing bloggers don’t read my Jezebel posts? Well, color me shocked. Shocked! Despite me saying that thing a couple of days ago about how Twitter kind of only exists to make people outraged because outrage generates posts and posts generate money for Howard Hughesian Twitter founder Jack Dorsey et al, The Federalist and Fox News and the rest of those reactionary chuds have been getting pretty upset at a WebMD tweet, The Advocate reports.

The WebMD tweet in question concerns a two-month-old report by the American Medical Association in which the group’s LGBTQ Advisory Committee recommends removing sex designation from the public-facing portion of American birth certificates. Their reasoning, per them., is manifold. For one, “assigning sex using a binary variable and placing it on the public portion of the birth certificate perpetuates a view that it is immutable,” thereby undermining trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people’s authority as they grow older. Additionally, this kind of binary designation of sex “fails to recognize the medical spectrum of gender identity” and erases intersex people wholesale.

Listing one’s assigned sex on the public-facing portion of their birth certificate also creates “potential for discrimination” and harassment when trans people try to apply for jobs or schools, get married, or do any number of other things you need IDs for, i.e., everything. (“We live, famously, in a society,” as my friend Alex V. Green once wrote.) It would also make the bureaucratic hell that is legal transition easier, especially for those trans and nonbinary individuals who were born in states that require surgery and other needlessly stringent, often inaccessible demands to make such a change to their paperwork. Some states like Tennessee and Ohio don’t even let people alter the sex listed on their birth certificates at all, The Hill notes, which is, in medical terms, bananas.

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While removing the “Sex” part of public-facing birth certificates might seem like a radical move, similar format changes have happened before. The race of a person’s parents used to also be publicly listed on these documents but was taken off because of how that designation had historically “been used to discriminate, promote racial hierarchies, and prohibit miscegenation,” as the AMA notes in its report. “However, sex designation is still included on the public portion of the birth certificate, despite the potential for discrimination.”

And that’s really what this recommendation is about: the material needs of trans people, whose collective quality of life would vastly improve if the various forms of identification required to participate in society weren’t actively working against them. No one’s getting rid of sex or gender. No one’s taking away anyone’s ability to be a man or a woman. I doubt that anyone who actually thinks that is reading this blog, but just in case you are: Chill!