American Medical Association Advocates Removing Sex From the Public Portion of Birth Certificates

In a press release on 16th June, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced the policies that were adopted by medical leaders at the latest meeting of the AMA House of Delegates. These policies, we are told, “drive the future of medicine” and aim to “remove obstacles that interfere with patient care”.

The first policy listed is to “oppose work requirements for food stamps”. And the second is to “advocate for alternatives to immigration centers”. If you’re wondering why these particular policies were adopted by a medical organisation, you’re not alone. They sound like standard left-wing talking points to me. (This isn’t meant as a criticism of those policies; it’s just odd to see them in an AMA press release.)

However, the most noteworthy policy adopted by the AMA is to “advocate for the removal of sex as a legal designation on the public portion of the birth certificate”. Now, you might have assumed that a person’s sex was a fairly important piece of medical information – one that really ought to be recorded on their birth certificate. But apparently not.

According to AMA Board Chair-Elect Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, recording sex on birth certificates “fails to recognize the medical spectrum of gender identity”, and “risks stifling an individual’s self-expression and self-identification”. (Note that the AMA is the largest professional association for physicians and medical students in the United States, with annual revenues of over $300 million.)

The AMA’s move comes after the publication of a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine last December titled “Failed Assignments – Rethinking Sex Designations on Birth Certificates”. (The NEJM is arguably the world’s most prestigious medical journal. It boasts an impact factor of 75, compared to only 60 for The Lancet.)

The authors of that paper make a number of arguments in favour of removing sex from the public portion of birth certificates. I will respond to each of them in turn.