Pennsylvania state Reps. Benjamin Sanchez (D-Abington) and Joe Webster (D-Collegeville) are planning to introduce a bill to remove male and female designations from Pennsylvania birth certificates.
The two Montgomery-County lawmakers say their proposal would not affect notations of biological sex on the U.S. Standard Certificate of Live Birth system that is used to gather medical and other statistics.
“Someone’s gender identity is a personal journey,” Sanchez and Webster wrote in a memorandum encouraging colleagues to cosponsor their legislation. “Many people struggle with the decision to come out about their gender identity in light of a society that has been slow to recognize transgender people as deserving of equal rights and respect. Unfortunately, bureaucratic roadblocks such as changing information on one’s birth certificate make this process even more complicated as transgender people face discrimination and multiple barriers when changing their sex on government documents.”
Sanchez and Webster’s memo observes that the American Medical Association (AMA) last July recommended that birth certificates cease to include gender designations. The AMA stated in its resolution on the issue that all states except for Tennessee and Ohio currently permit an individual to change his or her birth-certificate sex description, though the process required for doing so varies among jurisdictions. The association furthermore said that about one in 5,000 people are born intersex (i.e. with ambiguous physical indications of their sex) and that six in 1,000 people identify as transgender at some point in life.
Radical phrasing pervades the AMA statement. It asserts, for instance that “gender is a social construct that describes the way persons self-identify or express themselves” and that “a person’s gender identity may not always be exclusively male or female and may not always
correspond with their sex assigned at birth.”
The AMA resolution elicited much ridicule after its publication. University of New Mexico psychology professor Geoffrey F. Miller characterized it as “How to say ‘We prioritize woke ideology over science and health’ without saying ‘We prioritize woke ideology over science and health.’” Centrist American Enterprise Institute scholar Christina Hoff Sommers lamented, “Another once-trusted institution has lost its mind.”
AMA’s statement appeared about seven months after an article in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) argued that birth certificates should no longer identify sex. Therein, Vadim M. Shteyler and Eli Y. Adashi of Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School and Jessica A. Clarke of Vanderbilt University Law School wrote, “Assigning sex at birth also doesn’t capture the diversity of people’s experiences.”
Attorney and Discovery Institute fellow Wesley J. Smith called the NEJM piece “ideological advocacy in what is supposed to be a journal that primarily publishes objective scientific information” and opined the article could fuel “the growing public distrust of the science sector.”
Another bill pertaining to transgender politics will soon emerge in the Pennsylvania House, this one at some cost to taxpayers: Sanchez has announced he and Rep. Melissa Shusterman (D-Phoenixville) will propose a grant program for groups that aid transgender residents navigating the legal process of changing their names.
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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Pennsylvania Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to email@example.com.
Photo “Joe Webster” by Rep. Joe Webster. Photo “Benjamin Sanchez” by Rep. Ben Sanchez. Background Photo “Pennsylvania State Capitol” by Kumar Appaiah. CC BY-SA 2.0.