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Removing Sex from Birth Certificates for Gender Diversity

Removing Sex from Birth Certificates for Gender Diversity

In 2018, Tasmania's legislature explored removing sex off birth records. If it succeeds, it will be the first state in Australia to do so. The sex of a newborn would still be documented in the record of births and hospital records, allowing the state to track sex data for statistical purposes, but this would not be display on the child's birth record under the proposed legislation. The proposal's premise is that persons who do not agree with the sex they are born - transgender, gender-diverse, and intersex people - are frequently obliged to "out" themselves when their birth certificate is sought. This can generate embarrassment, privacy problems, and perhaps prejudice.


Sexes and genders are distinct from one another


Sex is a biological notion that pertains to a human's biological appearances and features, such as genitalia and other reproductive anatomy, chromosomes, and hormones. These characteristics do not necessarily fall cleanly into the "male" and "female" categories. Intersex persons make up between 0.05% and 1.7% of the population. Contrarily, gender is a social term that describes how a person claims or self-identify themselves. Gender identity does not necessarily have to be solely male or female, and it does not always coincide with the sex given at birth.


Birth certificates that specify a person's sex as something other than male or female are already allowed in the majority of Australian states and territories. For documenting a person's sex on their birth certificate, South Australia, the ACT, NSW, and the Northern Territory all deliver a variety of gender-neutral alternatives, including non-binary, indeterminate, intersex, other, and unknown. Queensland declared in April that year it will explore the possibility of enacting comparable regulations.


Gender-neutral and/or non-binary designations on birth certificates are also permitted in several nations, including New Zealand, India, Germany, Bangladesh, and most recently New York City. The Tasmanian idea under discussion goes a step further. While adding a gender-neutral option to birth certificates would help non-binary and intersex Australians, there seems to be rising support for doing away with birth certificates' sex classifications completely.


Why delete sex from birth certificates?


Removing sex off birth records just improves life for the transgender and intersex groups. When an identification document is required, such as when a person registers for classes at a school or university or applies for a passport, having a gender identity that does not correspond to the sex identification on a birth certificate can cause uncertainty and could expose persons to prejudice. Additionally, birth certificates are used to accrue identification "points" for everything from opening a credit card account to starting a job.


The requirement for the parents of an intersex kid to select sex for their newborn to be publicly documented would be removed if sex was removed from birth certificates. This may be a very sensitive and challenging choice for the parents to make, and in certain cases, it may not represent how the kid will later interpret their gender. When the kid has the understanding and maturity to affirm their gender identification, keeping the birth certificate open gives them the freedom to make that choice.


Only those who have gender reassignment surgery are permitted to modify the sex listed on their birth certificates in several states, including Victoria and Tasmania. More importantly, it should only be based on one's physical and emotional requirements that one decides to undergo this costly and intrusive procedure.


Does this have any effects on the society?


Despite the fact that such a change wouldn't have an overall negative influence on society, resistance to the proposed Tasmanian law has been quite loud. For instance, the Australian Christian Lobby said that the planned changes decrease the importance of birth certificates by erasing historical realities.  This implies a complete misunderstanding of the function of birth certificates. According to the Victorian Law Reform Commission, the primary function of a birth certificate is to verify a person's legal identification, not to record biological information.


Birth certificates, for instance, show legal paternity rather than genetic origins for persons who were adopted or created via assisted reproduction. Birth and hospital records, as well as adoption and donor conception registrations, give a historical record of birth.  Without having any negative effects on the general community, allowing transgender and intersex persons to appropriately declare their legal identities and allow them power over their private information will considerably enhance their lives. Trying to eliminate sex is yet another step in the fight against discrimination, similar to previous moves to have race and parental vocations removed from birth certificates.