A birth certificate is a certificate of birth and should denote nothing more than
that. As will be apparent from what follows, a birth certificate denotes the sex of its possessor. It
should not denote the sexual preference or orientation of its holder later in life. It should not and must not
be used for discrimination against members of the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community. And a birth
certificate should not be subject to change at the whim of its possessor.
A person’s sex is assigned at birth. It is the label a medical professional gives a baby when it is
born. This assignment is usually based on what a doctor observes about a baby’s body. Babies born with penises are labeled
male, and babies born with vulvas are labeled female. How a person chooses to live as he becomes an adult is his/her
prerogative. What he/she chooses to label his/her-self doesn’t alter how he/she was born.
There’s a lot more to being male, female, or any gender than the sex assigned at birth. Your
biological or assigned sex does not always tell your complete story. It’s common for people to confuse sex, gender, and
gender identity. But they’re actually all different things.
Sex is a label - male or female - that you’re assigned by a doctor at birth based on the genitals
you’re born with and the chromosomes you have. It goes on your birth certificate.
Gender is much more complex: It’s a social and legal status, and a set of expectations from society,
about behaviors, characteristics, and thoughts. This is generally male or female. But instead of being about body parts, it’s
more about how one is expected to act, because of one’s sex.
Gender identity is how one feels and how one express’s one’s gender through clothing, behavior, and
personal appearance. It’s a feeling that begins very early in life.
Assigned sex is a label that one is given at birth based on medical factors, including hormones,
chromosomes, and genitals. Most people are assigned male or female, and this is what’s put on their birth certificates.
When someone’s sexual and reproductive anatomy doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female
or male, they may be described as intersex.
It’s easy to confuse sex and gender. Just remember that biological or assigned sex is about biology,
anatomy, and chromosomes. Gender is society’s set of expectations, standards, and characteristics about how men and women are
supposed to act.
Most people feel that they’re either male or female. Some people feel like a masculine female, or a
feminine male. Some people feel neither male nor female. These people may choose labels such as “genderqueer,” “gender
variant,” or “gender fluid.” One’s feelings about his/her gender identity can begin as early as age 2 or
As noted above, birth certificates are filed at birth and – except for extremely unusual
circumstances - are not subject to change at the whim of their owner. In this regard, transgender people born in Kansas
would be prevented from changing their birth certificates to reflect their gender identities if the state’s conservative
Republican attorney is successful with a legal move he launched late in June of 2023. Such a position should be common
throughout these United States.
In 2023, the Attorney General of Kansas filed a request in federal court asking a judge to end a
requirement for Kansas to allow transgender people to change their birth certificates. He was not seeking to undo past
changes, only prevent such changes from being made in the future.
In 2020, federal judges in Idaho and Ohio struck down rules against transgender people changing
their birth certificates. But this month, federal judges in Tennessee and Oklahoma dismissed challenges to two of the
nation’s few remaining state policies against such changes.
At the end of June in 2023, A federal judge in Tennessee dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of
transgender plaintiffs asking the state of Tennessee to allow them to change the sex on their birth certificates.
The U.S. District Judge wrote in his decision to dismiss the lawsuit that there are varying
definitions of the word "sex," but that the term "has a very narrow and specific meaning" when it comes to birth
certificates. The judge said that, in this context, the term means "external genitalia at the time of birth." He said the
sex designation on the birth certificate does not later become inaccurate "when it is eventually understood to diverge
from the transgender person's gender identity.”
Unfortunately, changing birth certificates has become part of the battle being waged by LGBTQ
members against those who oppose the LGBTQ agenda. I contend that changing birth certificates must not be part of this
Back in May of 2022, Montana health officials announced that transgender people couldn’t change
their birth certificates even if they underwent gender-confirmation surgery, in defiance of a court order that had blocked
the Republican-controlled state’s bid to restrict transgender rights.
The state health department said in an emergency order that it would no longer record the category
of “gender” on people’s birth certificates, replacing that category with a listing for “sex” that could be changed only in
Sex is “immutable,” according to the order, while gender is a “social . . . construct” that can
change over time. “Sex is different from gender and an immutable genetic fact, which is not changeable, even by surgery,”
said the order from the director of Public Health and Human Services.
The order came a month after a state judge temporarily blocked enforcement of a law that required
transgender people to have undergone a “surgical procedure” before being allowed to change their gender on their birth
According to the order, the sex listing can be changed only if someone’s sex is misidentified when
they’re born or if the sex was wrongly recorded as a result of “a scrivener’s error,” according to the order.
As of May 2022, Half of the U.S. states, plus the District of Columbia, allowed transgender
residents to change gender designation on their birth certificates without surgical requirements or court orders, according
to an organization that supports transgender rights.
Just over a dozen states require surgical intervention for changing gender on birth certificates
and such barriers have been challenged in several states, including in Montana by the ACLU of Montana.
Many transgender people choose not to undergo gender-confirmation surgeries. Such procedures are
sometimes deemed unnecessary or too expensive.
After all is said and done, my position is that to avoid making anyone feel uncomfortable, a person
with a penis should use a Men’s bathroom and locker room, or a unisex facility. A person with a vagina should use a Women’s
bathroom and locker room, or a unisex facility. The issue of gender identity need not enter the debate. Neither should what
is written on one's birth certificate.
- Sex and Gender Identity, www.plannedparenthood.org, Accessed 4 July 2023.
- Kansas’ attorney general moves to stop trans people from changing their birth certificates, Associated Press,
Boston Sunday Globe; Pge A14, 25 June 2023.
- Tennessee judge dismisses lawsuit from transgender plaintiffs asking to change sex on birth certificates,
Landon Mion, www.msn.com, 26 June 2023.
- Montana bans birth certificate changes, even after gender-confirming surgery, Matthew Brown,
24 May 2022.