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Sex Versus Gender: The Debate Goes On!

The American Medical Association (AMA), a Chicago-based professional association and lobbying group of physicians and medical students founded in 1847, recently recommended that it is seemingly prudent as regards to removal of the gender identity of newborns from Birth Certificates. In its proposal, the AMA has stated that genders, male or female, should not be mentioned in certificates. The Association has argued that there is a third gender, in addition to males and females. Hence, AMA believes that mentioning only two genders in certificates would encourage gender inequality.

While the Government issues birth certificates to individuals as proof of birth, it uses a separate form, Standard Certificates of Live Birth, to record such information and the report concludes that the change would “have little to no impact on vital statistics data”. Currently, only two genders are mentioned in birth certificates in the US. As a result, it becomes difficult for a third gender child or a child of same-sex couple to get admission in schools and colleges, or to get married, or to adopt a child. Socially, they often face harassment. The AMA has made this recommendation in an attempt to prevent this problem, saying that removing the gender marker would protect individual privacy and prevent discrimination.

Reports suggest that while 48 states and the District of Columbia (with Tennessee and Ohio as the exceptions) allow people to amend their sex designation on their birth certificates, only 10 allow a gender-neutral designation. Even after individuals get through all the bureaucratic red tape to correct their gender markers, there are still inconsistencies in the public record. Commenting on the issue, alternate delegate from the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Robert Jackson said: “We as physicians need to report things accurately. All through medical school, residency, and specialty training, we were supposed to delegate all of the physical findings of the patient we’re taking care of.” He added: “I think when the child is born, they do have physical characteristics either male or female, and I think that probably should be on the public record. That’s just my personal opinion.

For his part, Managing Director of GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality Jeremy Toler stressed: “We, unfortunately, still live in a world where it is unsafe in many cases for one’s gender to vary from the sex assigned at birth. Children of third sex or gay couples often face insecurity. This problem needs to be solved.” It may be noted that GLMA is an organisation that is fighting for the equality of the LGBTQ community.

Birth Certificate

Meanwhile, the AMA has stated: “Historically, birth certificates have also been used to discriminate, promote racial hierarchies, and prohibit miscegenation. For that reason, the race of an individual’s parents is no longer listed on the public portion of birth certificates. However, sex designation is still included on the public portion of the birth certificate, despite the potential for discrimination.

In recent times, many third gender or gay couples have started adopting children. However, there is no official evidence of their identity. According to the Association, its proposal is aimed at eliminating gender inequality. So far, the Administration of President Joe Biden has made no confirmation whether it would accept the proposal, and pass a law on the same.

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