Gender Earthquake

Laurie and Debbie say:

New York City is on the verge of adopting a world-shattering rule about gender identification. Under the new gender-identity guidelines, “people born in the city would be able to change the documented sex on their birth certificates by providing affidavits from a doctor and a mental health professional laying out why their patients should be considered members of the opposite sex, and asserting that their proposed change would be permanent. Applicants would have to have changed their name and shown that they had lived in their adopted gender for at least two years, but there would be no explicit medical requirements.”

We racked our brains to come up with a historical parallel, and the closest we get is the beginning of freedom of religion. The opportunity to choose your own religion without suffering dire punishment had been unthinkable for centuries. When the shift happened, the expansion of human freedom (and the backlash) were both extraordinary.

The article describes how this initial foray into changing the world came about: “after four years of discussions among health officials, an eight-member panel of transgender experts and vital records offices nationwide.” This kind of slow, attentive, community-involved process is the most likely route to truly radical change, and this is a stunning example of what it can do.

People (at least in New York City) will now be able to make medical decisions based on what is right for their own gender transition, without pressure based on legal status.

The effect is to detach gender from biology, shattering a confine as old as humanity.

gender , transgender, transsexual, New York City, civil rights, Body Impolitic

2 thoughts on “Gender Earthquake

  1. Liz,

    The post is really about the amazing change in the definition of gender

    I didn’t want to talk about the specific birth certificate issue until I talked to a transman friend who had been through the change of papers recently. The other friends I have who did this, did it before 9/11 and had no problems, but that was in another world.

    Anyway, he had no problem changing any of his IDs and fortunately he comes from a state(Maine) that will change your birth certificate to your new name and gender. He said that his birth certificate in his new name with other ID will get him his passport. It’s his first passport and I don’t know what happens if you already hold one in your previous name.

    I have a transman friend who married a woman in England and because he comes from a state that won’t change your birth certificate (Florida) she couldn’t get a green card and come to live here.

    I’m expect that how hard all of this is varies from state to state but the birth certificate is a crucial document.

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