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AMA News Room

June 9, 2014

AMA Calls for Modernizing Birth Certificate Policies

For immediate release:
June 9, 2014

Requirements for changing sex designations updated to reflect gender identity

CHICAGO - The American Medical Association (AMA) adopted new policy supporting the elimination of any government requirement that an individual must have undergone surgery in order to change the sex indicated on a birth certificate.

Across the country, state laws governing changes to a person's gender on a birth certificate is granted to applicants who change their sex by "surgical procedure" and provide a court order to that effect. Only a handful of states allow corrections to gender markers on birth certificates on the basis of "clinically appropriate treatment," as opposed to surgery.

"Surgery shouldn't be a requirement to align a person's gender identity with their birth certificate," said AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven, M.D. "State laws must acknowledge that the correct course of treatment for any given individual is a decision that rests with the patient and their physician."

The AMA rejected "gender affirmation surgery" as the guiding requirement for changing birth certificates as inconsistent with current medical standards. The new AMA policy also supports that any change of sex determination on an individual's birth certificate must not hinder access to medically appropriate preventive care. Medical options for transgender people include a medically appropriate combination of mental health care, social transition, hormone therapy, in addition to the option of sex reassignment surgery. 

"Depending on what gender is recorded in these records, certain treatments, screening and procedures may be disallowed, despite the fact that best medical practices require adequate screening and treatment of a person, regardless of the person's gender identity or gender transition," said Dr. Hoven. "The AMA seeks to ensure that transgender patients always receive appropriate preventive care regardless of whether or not it matches with the gender on the birth certificate."

The new policy was adopted at AMA Annual Meeting during the first business session of the House of Delegates, the primary policy-making body of the nation's largest physician organization.

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