Thursday, July 10, 2014

B is for Birth Certificates

Today is our first B word, birth certificates.  I have written about this before but a refresher course is a good thing.  In most of the world, a birth certificate requires checking a box indicating whether the child is male or female.  This unfairly pressures parents to label their intersex child.  The truth is, in most states, you have some time before you have to turn the certificate in, time to think things over.  If you are new parents of an intersex baby, please don’t let the birth certificate make you feel rushed, you really do have a few weeks.   

The good news is the gender on birth certificates can be changed.  The bad news is this not easy and most jurisdictions require documentation that you are undergoing gender reassignment.  This is good for transgender people, but an intersex person may not have such documentation if they are simply living as a gender other than the one they were raised in.

There are only four countries in the world that issue gender neutral birth certificates, Australia, Germany, Nepal and New Zealand.  This is ideal.  The worst part about the birth certificate conundrum is it forces intersex erasure.  Legally we cannot exist until we have an artificial label forced on us.  It legally disenfranchises us.  It also perpetuates the attitude that we must to be hidden, we must “really” be male or female.  We have to lie on legal documents to deny and hide a biological reality, and that is just ridiculous.  

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