June 10, 2014
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) today applauded new transgender-supportive birth certificate policies adopted by the American Medical Association (AMA).
Yesterday, the AMA’s governing House of Delegates adopted a report recommending that states eliminate any requirement that individuals undergo gender affirmation surgery in order to change their sex designation on birth certificates. In doing so, it recognized the medical consensus that a person should not have to “undergo surgery or accept sterilization as a condition of obtaining an accurate birth certificate.” The same report supported modernizing state vital statistics statutes to ensure accurate gender markers on birth certificates for transgender people, noting that many current state statutes are based on old science and outmoded understandings of transgender people. The report can be read here on GLAD’s website.
“In our society, birth certificates are not just a record of one’s existence, but a gateway to employment, identity documents, school enrollment, and myriad government programs,” said Gary Buseck, Interim Executive Director of GLAD. “The everyday lives of transgender people are made easier or much, much harder depending on whether they have accurate birth certificates. We applaud the AMA for putting its considerable weight behind these recommendations.”
The report further affirms gender dysphoria as a “serious medical condition” and the medical necessity and effectiveness of mental health care, social transition, hormone therapy, and surgery as forms of therapeutic treatment for many people diagnosed with gender dysphoria. In addition, the report states, “The only effective treatment of [gender dysphoria] is medical care to support the person’s ability to live fully consistent with one’s gender identity. Efforts to change a person’s gender identity are futile and, like sexual orientation change efforts, can have a disastrously negative impact on the patient.”
Buseck noted that the AMA’s support will be critical in ongoing local efforts to make it easier for transgender people to access accurate documents, and to change state laws governing those documents. Currently in New England, only Vermont has explicitly removed its surgical requirement for birth certificate amendments.