AMA Recommends Birth Certificates Stop Publicly Listing Baby’s Sex

“We need to recognize gender is not a binary but a spectrum.”
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profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
August 9, 2021
Newly born baby's feet at the hospital.
Image: Getty Images

The American Medical Association (AMA) is now recommending that baby’s biological sex be removed from the section of birth certificates the public can access.

The recommendation came from the org’s LGBTQ+ advisory committee and is part of their June 2021 report. It aims to help advocate for and advance the rights of trans, non-binary and intersex people. “Assigning sex using a binary variable and placing it on the public portion of the birth certificate perpetuates a view that it is immutable and fails to recognize the medical spectrum of gender identity,” the report says. “Imposing such a categorization system risks stifling self expression and self-identification and contributes to marginalization and minoritization.”

The report recommends that the biological sex still be reported for “medical, public health, and statistical use only,” but not be made accessible to the public. The recommendation is to help protect against discrimination. “Historically, birth certificates have…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,” the report states. “However, sex designation is still included on the public portion of the birth certificate, despite the potential for discrimination.”

While biological sex can be changed on birth certificates in almost all states, it can often be a long and taxing process. “We need to recognize gender is not a binary but a spectrum,” Sarah Mae Smith, MD, an AMA delegate from California speaking on behalf of the org’s Women Physicians Section, said. “Obligating our patients to jump through numerous administrative hoops to identify as who they are based on a sex assigned at birth primarily on genitalia is not only unnecessary but actively deleterious to their health.”

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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