In the United States, recording the details of a child’s birth on a birth certificate is a relatively recent practice. For centuries, babies were born at home with the help of midwives or family members. If a child’s date of birth was recorded at all, it was usually written down in a family Bible or in baptismal records at a church. It was only by the early 20th century that state governments had their own systems of birth records, and a standardized version of birth registration was uniformly adopted in the 1930s.
Now, there’s another change coming to the recording of birth information in the U.S., as the American Medical Association (AMA) has announced it will advocate for the removal of sex as a legal designation on the public portion of the birth certificate.
At the Special Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates in June, the association announced several policies. The AMA’s House of Delegates is a group of physicians, medical students and residents representing every state and medical field focused on policies that help “drive the future of medicine, remove obstacles that interfere with patient care and improve the health of the nation.”
The AMA’s existing policy states that “the AMA supports every individual’s right to determine their gender identity and sex designation on government documents and other forms of government identification.” In its Report of the Board of Trustees, the organization recommends advocating for the removal of sex as a legal designation on the public portion of the birth certificate.
However, it also recognizes that providers will still submit information on an individual’s sex designation at birth through the U.S. Standard Certificate of Live Birth for medical, public health and statistical use only.
“Designating sex on birth certificates as male or female, and making that information available on the public portion perpetuates a view that sex designation is permanent and fails to recognize the medical spectrum of gender identity,” AMA board chair-elect Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, M.D. said in a statement. “This type of categorization system also risks stifling an individual’s self-expression and self-identification and contributes to marginalization and minoritization.”