No Change in Definition of Gender


Diamond Member
Jul 11, 2004
Published: December 6, 2006
New York City’s Board of Health unexpectedly withdrew a proposal yesterday that would have allowed people to alter the sex on their birth certificates without sex-change surgery.

The plan, if passed, would have put New York at the forefront of a movement to eliminate anatomical considerations when defining gender. It had been lauded by some mental health professionals and transgender advocates who said it would reduce discrimination against men and women who lived as members of the opposite sex. :scratch:

But after the proposed change was widely publicized recently, board members and officials with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said that a surge of new concerns arose. Vital records experts said that new federal rules regarding identification documents, due next year, could have forced the policy to be scrapped.

Health officials said patients at hospitals asked how doctors would determine who would be assigned to the bed next to them. And among law enforcement officials, there were concerns about whether prisoners with altered birth certificates could be housed with female prisoners — even if they still had male anatomies.

“This is something we hadn’t fully thought through, frankly,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the city’s health commissioner. “What the birth certificate shows does have implications beyond just what the birth certificate shows.”

The board did approve a more minor change: Under a law passed in 1971, people who can prove that they had sex-change surgery could delete the male or female designation from their birth certificates. Now, they can change it.

Dr. Frieden said that this would bring New York City in line with most of the country and would help alleviate the transgender community’s concerns about discrimination. He said that going any further would have thrust New York into uncharted territory.

“We felt going into it that it was fairly standard, that other states had it on the books,” Dr. Frieden said. “But as we looked into it, we discovered that it was implicit, not explicit.”

He said it was “unfortunate” that the panel of experts convened by the department to address the proposal did not include anyone from institutions that may have been affected, like jails, schools or hospitals.

The panel instead consisted of doctors, mental-health professionals and advocates who overwhelmingly supported the plan.

Board members said the city should not act alone. Though the board has eagerly jumped ahead with bans on trans fats and smoking in restaurants, it decided against legislating gender on its own.

“We are not the only Department of Health. There is also the New York State Department store" class="Topic" type="Topic" value="health:::Recent and archival health news about cancer.::: and Manhattan. “We must make the decision together with the Department of Health of New York State. That’s one of the reasons we had no choice but to wait.”

But according to some supporters of the withdrawn proposal, the motivations behind the city’s decision may have more to do with comments like the one sent to the health department by e-mail that asked, “Are you guys losing all sense of moral values?”

James Jay Carafano, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group, said that the new federal identification rules would leave room for public and private agencies to address the issue of the gender.

However, transgender advocates accused the city of bowing to pressure from institutions and residents who feared interacting too closely with men who live as women and women who live as men. They noted that the city would have required doctors to verify that the gender change was permanent.

“I fear that because of the public attention the proposed change had attracted, they lacked the courage to give the proposed amendment the consideration it deserved,” said Shannon Minter, a board member and lawyer for Transgender Law and Policy Institute in New York. “That’s very disappointing.”

And then, the story below was at the end of this article....

Gawd, I'm glad I live in Alaska...Some of the bigger things we have to worry about, is a grizzly bear eating you.........
During its meeting yesterday, the Board of Health also voted to allow the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation to codify an informal policy that for the past two decades has allowed dogs off their leashes in certain areas of city parks from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. Owners walking dogs will be required to carry licenses and of proof of rabies vaccinations, and the Health Department may rescind the policy if there is an increase in preventable dog bites or risk of rabies.

The proposal generated enormous public interest. More than 13,200 people expressed support for the change, including 11,312 who signed petitions. Only 202 individuals and groups opposed the change, citing concerns about attacks by dogs, irresponsible owners and animal feces.

Sewell Chan contributed reporting.

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