America’s oldest medical journal declares birth certificate sex designations harmful and must be abolished
America’s oldest medical journal, the New England Journal of Medicine, has come out against sex designations on birth certificates, saying they can be harmful. They put out an article entitled ‘Failed Assignments’ last week that says that birth certificates no longer should include sex identification “given the particularly harmful effects of such designations on intersex and transgender people.”
According to the article, birth certificates in 1949 underwent a revision that “created a line of demarcation. The legally identifying fields above the line appear on certified copies of birth certificates, whereas information in the fields below the line, which is used for statistical purposes, is deidentified and reported in the aggregate. Race and parents’ marital status, for example, were moved below the line of demarcation to permit self-identification and to avoid stigma, respectively.”
What they are getting at here is that sex designation should be moved below the line. That allows for the general statistical compilation of vital statistics, but not an identifiable designation of the gender for the particular individual that the birth certificate was created for. The point is to promote a particular view of social justice.
From the journal:
“Designating sex as male or female on birth certificates suggests that sex is simple and binary when, biologically, it is not. Sex is a function of multiple biologic processes with many resultant combinations. About 1 in 5000 people have intersex variations. As many as 1 in 100 people exhibit chimerism, mosaicism, or micromosaicism, conditions in which a person’s cells may contain varying sex chromosomes, often unbeknownst to them.2 The biologic processes responsible for sex are incompletely defined, and there is no universally accepted test for determining sex.”
Sex designations on birth certificates offer no clinical utility, and they can be harmful for intersex and transgender people. Moving such designations below the line of demarcation would not compromise the birth certificate’s public health function but could avoid harm.
— NEJM (@NEJM) December 17, 2020
“Assigning sex at birth also doesn’t capture the diversity of people’s experiences. About 6 in 1000 people identify as transgender, meaning that their gender identity doesn’t match the sex they were assigned at birth. Others are nonbinary, meaning they don’t exclusively identify as a man or a woman, or gender nonconforming, meaning their behavior or appearance doesn’t align with social expectations for their assigned sex.”
“Sex designations on birth certificates offer no clinical utility; they serve only legal — not medical — goals. Certainly, knowing a patient’s sex is useful in many contexts, when it is appropriately interpreted. Sex modifies the clinical suspicion of a heart attack in the absence of classic symptoms and is a proxy for many undefined social, environmental, and biologic factors in research, for example. But, in each of these applications, sex is merely a stand-in for other variables and is not generally ascertained from a birth certificate.”
NEJM. The premiere medical journal has just stated that it’s unimportant for clinicians to note the sex of a newborn. As insane as everything has become, I never really thought I’d see the day. Goodnight ladies and gentlemen. And others.
— Barny Fraggles (@BFraggles) December 17, 2020
Many would disagree with this assertion, adhering to the fact that a child is born either ‘male’ or ‘female’ anatomically. The article emphasizes that “keeping sex designations above the line causes harm.”
There is more:
“For people with intersex variations, the birth certificate’s public sex designation invites scrutiny, shame, and pressure to undergo unnecessary and unwanted surgical and medical interventions.1Sex assignments at birth may be used to exclude transgender people from serving in appropriate military units, serving sentences in appropriate prisons, enrolling in health insurance, and, in states with strict identification laws, voting. Less visibly, assigning sex at birth perpetuates a view that sex as defined by a binary variable is natural, essential, and immutable. Participation by the medical profession and the government in assigning sex is often used as evidence supporting this view. Imposing such a categorization system risks stifling self-expression and self-identification.”
“People with intersex variations may undergo surgeries before they are old enough to consent, often losing reproductive capacity and sexual sensation as a result. Transgender people receive worse health care and have worse outcomes than cisgender people.3 Health care professionals have a particular duty to support vulnerable populations who have historically been harmed by clinicians and by the medical system in general.”
There was a time when NEJM used to be a serious journal.
— Ricardo Ferreira, MD (@RicardoMFerrei4) December 18, 2020
The authors express their views on safety concerns related to transgender individuals using locker rooms and restrooms of their choice. “But fears about privacy and safety violations in public accommodations aren’t supported by evidence. A study examining the effects of a Massachusetts law protecting transgender people in public accommodations revealed no increase in violations. Meanwhile, many intersex and transgender people avoid public spaces, including restrooms, for fear of mistreatment.”
Again, this is subjective as there is allegedly ample evidence to the contrary.
The article also puts forth that if sex designations are removed from birth certificates, it would allow applicants for passports and other government-issued documents “to identify their gender without medical verification.”