AMA Removes Surgery Requirement for Birth Certificate Changes

The American Medical Association has announced that transgender surgery should not be a necessary requirement for changes in birth certificates. Most states mandate both a court order and proof of surgery for changes in birth certificates although New York recently removed the surgery requirement. On the other hand, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed legislation in New Jersey to permit a clinical sex change for use in amending the birth certificate gender. AMA’s new policy language states: “Requiring sex-reassignment surgery places a burden on an already marginalized population.”


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    John Otto

    While this is wonderful news, it is important to note that the headline is misleading. The AMA does not have any legal authority in determining what is required to change birth certificates. Each individual state makes that determination, most often by policy made by the state’s department of vital statistics. The AMA can voice its institutional opinion…which is important, because its opinion carries a lot of authority that can help change a state’s policy…but the AMA cannot make that policy or legal change. For a resource showing each state’s reguirements, see Dr. Becky’s website. She does a very good job of usually keeping it up to date:

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