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Should Somebody Born Male Be Able To Alter His(Her) Birth Certificate To Female, And Vice-Versa?
November 12th, 2006

The Daily News publishes opposing views of the proposal by the New York City Board of Health to allow transgendered New Yorkers to change their gender on their birth certificates, whether or not they have had a sex-change operation.

The Yes essay is by Michael Silverman of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund , who argues that such a move will help make life a little easier for what he calls one of the most discriminated-against communities in the city: When they apply for jobs, they will no longer need to fear rejection because their ID doesn’t match the way they look; it now will. When they enter office buildings, they will no longer have to explain to security guards why the gender on their ID doesn’t match their appearance; it now will. When police officers stop them from using the bathroom that matches their gender presentation, they’ll have identification that says they have the right to be
there.

The No essay is by James Kirchick, who writes for the Independent Gay Forum. He argues the proposal amounts to falsifying government documents and eliminating a physical standard for determining gender, and says that it would cause a raft of complicated situations (What if a man who, despite never having had his gender surgically changed, asserts he is a woman then wants to marry another man, despite gay marriage not being legal in New York State?). More generally, tacking on transgender issues to gay rights, Kirchick writes, is partly responsible for the fact that it remains legal to fire people – just because they are gay – in 36 states.

By on November 12, 2006, 3:21 pm
In category: Civil Rights,Demographics,Gotham City,Health | 7 Comments »

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7 Responses to “Should Somebody Born Male Be Able To Alter His(Her) Birth Certificate To Female, And Vice-Versa?”

  1. Susan Moses Says:
    November 13th, 2006 at 3:12 am

    The “NO” article shows a lack of familiarity with the reality transgender issues. The author, JAMES KIRCHICK, misreported the HRC’s actions with regards to ENDA.

    The author also failed to recognize that without changing birth certificates, a short balding bearded man could show up in any female space just because he is a female-to-male transsexual. Or I could walk around topless showing my breasts to everyone and claim that because I was born male, female laws didn’t apply to me. Of course, these things don’t happen, because it’s simply alarmist to imagine they would.

    The author also mis-stated his own position in his last paragraph.

  2. MARK ANGELO CUMMINGS Says:
    November 14th, 2006 at 9:56 am

    Mr. Kirchick has it all wrong. First of all an individual doesnt change his or her gender surgically, it’s their sex they have reconstructed. Gender and sex have two distinct meaning. Gender refers to the persons identiy that is hard wired in the brain at 8 weeks gestation during the hormonal influx that is introduced by the chromosomal/gene interaction. Sex refers to the persons physical components such as their gonads, reproductive organs and genitals. What gender would you give a person that is born with dual genitalia or better yet missing ones. This all has to do with a variation of nature and nothing to do with sexual preference or the gay community for that matter. Why is it that individuals like Mr.Kirchick have to blend every thing together. Homosexuality and transsexuality are two different alitities. I know their are certain individuals with tunnel vision and have a hard time differentiating things. But alteast educate yourselves before you insert foot into mouth. Binary systems are very limiting, there are more than two genders, just learn from ancient times and other cultures. We need to get over ourselves in our great USA, and realize our way is not the only way. Closed minds and self rightous attitudes breed discrimination and hatred. Well enough of my soap box, I just wish people would mind their business and if they have nothing inteligent to contribute to a coversation, then keep the mouth shut. There is always someone trying to kill somebody elses joy or civil rights.

    I have said my peace

    Mark Angelo Cummings

  3. Joann Prinzivalli Says:
    November 14th, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    As an individual mischaracterized as “a man who has lived as a woman since 2000″ in the New York Times article covering the proposed amendment to NYC Health Code Sec. 2007, I would like to point out that sexual orientation is only one facet of the many that make up a person’s sexual identity. These include gender identity, sex assignment, gender expression, gender-related social role, and yes, sexual orientation.

    Gay men and lesbians often do not experience discrimination just because they are gay, but because their gender expression may not be the same as that of a typical heterosexual. Not all gays and lesbians fit into straight society seamlessly.

    James Kirchik, like many African-American Baptist preachers, obviously doesn’t know a thing about the commonality of the civil rights struggle. Martin Luther King, Jr. told us “No one is free until everyone is free.”

    Does Mr. Kirchik feel good having the responsibility (and yes, he is responsible as much as the state legislature) for leaving *me* out of SONDA? Is he happy having his rights, knowing that he knowingly left others behind? Does he sleep well at night, knowing that I lost my jobe a few years ago just because I am transsexual?

    As a perhaps rch white gay man, Mr. Kirchik is a member of the oppressing majority on the issue of transgender people, and is certainly not acting anything like an ally.

    Notwithstanding the fact that he is gay, he is obviously cisgendered. He probably equates transsexuals with his drag queen friends who dress up for a laugh. Well he must think, a man in a dress is a man in a dress, after all, right? (*BTW, I am dissing mr. Krchik, not drag queens, many of whom are the nicest people I have ever met!)

    Sorry, but despite Mr. Kirchik and the New York Times, I am not a man, and even thogh I tried for many years to be one, I never was one. It may seem overused, but the idea of being a woman trapped in a man’s body is exactly how I felt. I have had hormone therapy for several years, and believe me, hormones do quite a bit when it comes to transition. If I can’t currently get a surgery letter, it is because of real medical issues.

    I have news for Mr. Kirchik. I don;t believe that gender is merely performed behavior. That may do in part for the subcategory of gender expression (well, he is familiar with the gay male drag queen experince, isn’t he?)but it has nothing to do with gender identity.

    According to a couiple of scientific studies, gender identity may well be based on the physiological structure of a tiny structure in the brain, the basal stria terminalis, in the hypothalamus. The neuron density in a small area denominaed BSTc in transsexuals closely matches the density in the sex opposite that to which they were initially assigned.

    Unfortunately, to prove it, you’d have to kill me first, because it can only be seen on a prepared slide of the tissue, and that can be obtained only in an autopsy.

    This is perhaps one of the reasons for the proposed change – the advances in scientific understanding since the previous change in the regulation in the 1970’s have been such that we *know* that genital shape at birth isnot the sole determinant of an individual’s sex. There are many factors, including chromosomes, genital shape, and yes, the psychological factor brought onby the physiological BSTc.

    For myself, I believe that my gender is immutable – I have always been that woman (and girl) trapped in a body erroneously assigned male at birth. I tried suppressing my nature for many years – that led to the cultural stress that is described asgender identity disorder. The fact I tried to assimilate does not make me a man.

    In her book “Self Made Man,” noted anti-transsexual lesbian writer Norah Vincent (who, despite her prejudice is a great writer), points out very strongly that her experience passing as “Ned” was not in any ay a transsexual experience. Sadly, Norah does not realize that the psychological stress that she felt (after finishing her background work for the book, she actually had to get mental health help) came from Ned being really Norah under all that – what Norah experienced and wrote in her book was so much like my own experience of trying to assimilate as a man (especially the bowling chapter), that I thought she would have realizedthat her experience really was transsexual, only as an MTF, not as an FTM.

    When she retracts her article “Cunning Linguists” or the hatchetjob she did on Brandon, I’ll know that she has finally “got it.”

    Perhaps Mr. Kirchik might want to try to experience what it might be like to be a female-to-male transsexual, and live as a woman without being one for a couple of years, trying very hard to assimilate as a woman.

    FTMs are not women, MTFs are not men. And errors in birth certificates *should* be changed. It isn;t my sex that is being changed, it is an error on my birth certificate.

    Of course, I realize Mr. Kirchik is not likely to understand, but I’m casting my hastily written stream-of-conciousness pearls of wisdom before him anyway.

    Joann Prinzivalli
    Director, New York Transgender Rights Organization
    Joann

  4. Sue Jones Says:
    November 15th, 2006 at 6:31 am

    It’s surprising that Mr Kichick, as part of a n oppressed minority, would choose to deny another oppressed minority their basic rights.

    The fact is that recognising transsexuals as being the sex they are closest to being for all practical means and purposes will do nothing to set back gay rights.

    I agree with Joann. Being born male does not necessarily make you a man. The issue here is diversity. Males range from Arnie-type alphas to those who are only ostensibly male via their private parts.

    However, we do not live in a world that is tolerant of gender ambiguity. That means that those in the middle have to choose the side that will give them the least grief (because it really is a matter of being between a rock and a hard place). Either that or be prepared to defend and justify themselves on a daily basis.

    So when an XY woman or XX man is attempting to become a contributing member of society, she or he should not be thwarted by having incriminating documents. In my Australian state of NSW, a law was passed in 1996 that allowed me to change my birth certificate.

    Without that change I may well be unemployed and a drain on society instead of the well-paid, productive member of society that I am today.

    The terrible injustice of it being legal to fire people for being gay in so many states is an unrelated issue and should be addressed for what it is – a form of apartheid that needs to be fought for its own sake.

  5. Gotham Gazette - The Wonkster » Blog Archive » Transgender Reversal Says:
    December 12th, 2006 at 8:49 am

    […] Last month, the New York City Board of Health proposed allowing transgendered New Yorkers to change the gender listed on their birth certificate whether or not they have had sex re-assignment surgery. The proposal inspired much debate, and a strong backlash and the board withdrew its proposal. […]

  6. boda Says:
    April 23rd, 2012 at 1:19 pm

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  7. Clemmie Lofte Says:
    August 8th, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Very good article! We will be linking to this particularly great post on our site. Keep up the great writing.

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