Don’t Know Much Biology


The New England Journal of Medicine has published a paper titled Failed Assignments — Rethinking Sex Designations on Birth Certificates which claims that designating a child’s sex on a birth certificate can be harmful. Here’s the paper’s abstract.

Sex designations on birth certificates offer no clinical utility, and they can be harmful for intersex and transgender people. Moving such designations below the line of demarcation wouldn’t compromise the birth certificate’s public health function but could avoid harm.

Boys and girls grow and develop at different rates and in different ways. I am not a physician, but it seems to me that knowledge of a child’s normally expected development should have real clinical utility and that ignoring it could be a form of malpractice.

BTW, neither of the two physicians among the paper’s authors is a pediatrician. The third author is a lawyer.

Titania McGrath was unavailable for comment.