The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine has published a piece by two doctors and a lawyer who recommend rethinking sex designations on birth certificates. It’s something trans activists have been saying for decades. Getting a birth certificate amended after a gender transition is complicated and costly, so many sex and gender minorities do not do it, leaving them in legal limbo.
The article, titled “Failed Assignments — Rethinking Sex Designations on Birth Certificates,” notes that sex assigned at birth and codified on birth certificates are then used as the basis for other legal documents:
Passports and state identification cards relying on sex assigned at birth for identification pose another challenge. These documents are usually issued or renewed when the holder is an adolescent or an adult, however, so moving sex designations below the line of demarcation on birth certificates would permit applicants to identify their gender without medical verification. Governments could also remove gender designations from identification cards altogether and focus more on identifiable physical features and updated photographs. This change would accommodate nonbinary people and reduce the burdens associated with amending documents.
It’s great that medical and legal experts are starting to take these issues more seriously. Thanks to Vadim Shteyler, Jessica Clarke, and Eli Adashi for writing this. The goal of science and law should always be to reduce bias and to focus on value-neutral language.
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