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The sex of the child should not go on the birth certificate

(61 Posts)
MrsPeacockInTheLibrary Sun 13-Sep-20 14:37:18

I was reading a friend's facebook group profile and saw this discussion about not having the sex listed on the birth certificate.

Here is one particular post that got me:

"There is an argument that sex and gender shouldn't be separated into physical and psychological as that is another modern day Cartesian dualism (it's not universally accepted even amongst progressives, but one that I am inclined to support). I'm going to park that one for now though and address the physical as if they are separate.
It's assumption of sex that goes on the birth certificate, not just assumption of gender identity but assumption of the physical components of sex based on the one visible attribute of genitalia. This means babies who are intersex or have differences in sexual development whose genitalia don't appear unusual will be assigned the wrong sex.
We don't routinely check what reproductive organs a baby has on the inside, which can be different to what is assumed. We also don't routinely run DNA tests to check each baby's chromosomes, which again can be different to what's assumed based on genitalia. Also, even if we knew a baby had XY chromosomes, they could 'appear female' if they have no SRY gene on the Y or have androgen insensitivity syndrome, which similarly changes the physical appearance. We also don't have any insight into what will happen to each baby physically when they reach puberty - their future sex hormonal levels are not yet known - plus hormones a baby is subjected to in the womb can cause changes to their genitals. These are just some examples of differences in sexual development that would not be evident at birth. So, even before considering trans people whose gender identity does not match what was assumed based on genitalia at birth, we are not seeing the full biological picture by assigning sex based on what a baby has between their legs.
As for differing medical needs, it should be clear from the above that a wrong assumption about someone sex could indeed lead to a misunderstanding of their physical needs and abilities and, if anything, should be a reason not to assume it for the birth certificate. Plus we wouldn't be refused treatment for sex-based conditions without it being on a birth certificate any more than someone is refused treatment for heart disease when family history is not on the birth certificate. We have medical records for this.
Estimates on the prevalence of people who are intersex or have DSD vary, precisely because it is not always obvious, but a widely touted stat is that it is about as common as having red hair. Estimates for trans people also vary, although I should say there is of course no threshold to cross to become 'important'. I merely raise it to note how strange it would be to put babies into a dark/light hair dichotomy or bring back the forcing of children to write with the right hand when some are left-handed. Why do that when we don't have to?"

I mean it sounds comprehensive but I still kick back inside and think but sex is sex! It's just there - when you dig up skeletons and in our DNA ... and everything! I appreciate there are medical backgrounds that are complicated for people regarding their reproductive capacity... but there is still the science!

Am I wrong? Is there anything that can be said here?

OP’s posts: |
midgebabe Sun 13-Sep-20 14:42:48

I don't know much, but the intersex issue is a red herring. DSD May be relatively common, but the ones that cause ambiguity are incredibly rare. I think XXX is the most common for example.

Of course, not recording sex means you won't spot sex based abortions

midgebabe Sun 13-Sep-20 14:44:31

And estimates for how many people are trans show that the percentage is highest in countries with strong gender assumptions /homophobia, which means that it is , at least to a large degree, cultural not innate

Wheresthebiffer2 Sun 13-Sep-20 14:47:17

The red hair statistic is false. Yes it is widely reported, but still false. Intersex is much tinier percentage.

Beamur Sun 13-Sep-20 14:52:47

I'm not a midwife, but I would imagine that the number of babies born with a DSD that is undiagnosed either before or at birth is tiny. The figure correlating it to the same incidence as red hair has already been proved specious.
Sex is important for medical reasons. Only boys can have Muscular dystrophy for example, but a girl can carry the gene.
A person who is trans was still born into a sex binary.
If you do away with recording sex on a birth certificate, what would you actually achieve? People will still be either male or female, in the same way that you are either right or left handed. It's a completely false equivalence to compare segregation of sexes to which hand you write with. That argument would be more like saying we are all recorded as 'male' and some people shouldn't be!

MichelleofzeResistance Sun 13-Sep-20 15:13:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EyesOpening Sun 13-Sep-20 15:42:37

After reading that article about New Zealand trying to discourage the words mum & dad and boy & girl, I wondered if it would lead to trying to do away with recording the sex of babies - "congratulations, it's a ....BABY!"

JellySlice Sun 13-Sep-20 16:08:39

We don't routinely check what reproductive organs a baby has on the inside, which can be different to what is assumed.

Err, hello? 20w anomaly scan?

JanMeyer Sun 13-Sep-20 16:16:10

Only boys can have Muscular dystrophy for example, but a girl can carry the gene.

Girls can have muscular dystrophy, it's the two subtypes Duchene and Becker that only affect males. Though some googling dug up the fact that in extremely rare cases girls can have the former.
But other types affect both boys and girls.

littlbrowndog Sun 13-Sep-20 16:16:16

It’s just nonsense. Tell your frien£ that and when they find their brain ask them to use it

Al1Langdownthecleghole Sun 13-Sep-20 16:16:59

I couldn't get past the first few sentences. What a load of shite. Fancy vocabulary doesn't magically turn fakery into facts.

KatVonlabonk Sun 13-Sep-20 16:19:20

Around 750,000 babies are born in the UK each year.
150 children are diagnosed with a disorder of sexual development each year. (*source:
differently-normal.com/2020/06/10/example-post-3/amp/?__twitter_impression=true)

Be in no doubt this issue is being used to undermine sex based protections. Actual people with intersex conditions seem to be pretty pissed off about it all.

JellySlice Sun 13-Sep-20 16:23:07

Also, birth certificates aren't issued at birth. There is no rush to 'assign' a sex. In the UK birth certificates are issued up to 6w after birth, by which time any visible anomalies will have been assessed and the baby's sex ascertained by genetic testing.

As for

a widely touted stat is that it is about as common as having red hair.

Well, if you go by Stoewall's definition of trans, then that is nonsense - being trans would be as common as having hair.

And if you go by the definition of wanting society to perceive you and treat you as a member of the opposite sex, being trans would be even less common than being Jewish (about 0.2% of world population).

Being left handed is about as common as having red hair.

* bring back the forcing of children to write with the right hand when some are left-handed. Why do that when we don't have to?"*

To ensure that men know who to subjugate because their biology - you know, that child-bearing, lower muscle-mass stuff - will make it harder for them to fight back.

KatVonlabonk Sun 13-Sep-20 16:23:35

What really annoys me is that the outright lie that 1.7 % of the population has a DSD condition is perpetuated by organisations such as the BBC and Amnesty. The BBC know its a lie as they did their own fact check on it!!!

www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000222z

Thelnebriati Sun 13-Sep-20 16:28:33

Its a bit odd that your friend is so well informed but still doesn't know that people who discover they have a DSD can have their birth certificate amended.

Doyoumind Sun 13-Sep-20 17:18:40

Registering a birth isn't just for the sake of the child. We need to know how many males and females are being born.

Namenic Sun 13-Sep-20 17:38:09

I don’t think this is very sensible. Although sex as determined by external genitalia does not always correlate with with DNA or hormone profile, it is a cheap and effective proxy most of the time. Are we going to spend a large amount of money to do a dna test for marginal gain?

It will often correlate with disease risk profile, growth curves of babies etc.

In addition it is important for govt statistics to check on sex selective abortion (as mentioned by pp’s), planning ahead (eg what is burden of cardiovascular disease likely to be in 50 years time).

If a baby or child has medically diagnosed intersex condition at birth - I don’t see why they should not have Intersex recorded.

Beamur Sun 13-Sep-20 17:38:36

JanMeyer

*Only boys can have Muscular dystrophy for example, but a girl can carry the gene.*

Girls can have muscular dystrophy, it's the two subtypes Duchene and Becker that only affect males. Though some googling dug up the fact that in extremely rare cases girls can have the former.
But other types affect both boys and girls.

I stand corrected.
I guess my wider point is that for certain inherited genetic illness, sex can be really important.

Simarilion Sun 13-Sep-20 17:40:09

As others have said, disorders where one truly cannot determine sex by the external genitalia are very, very rare. Male & female infants do have some different health needs- as they said at my ante-natal class, with boy babies you need to lift up the little testicles on changing a pooy nappy to
make sure no poo is hiding there! More seriously, males also need to be screened for undescended testicles as this is a major cancer risk. Plus growth rates for male & female babies are different, so knowing sex is essential for picking up failure to thrive or abnormal head circumference. There are real potential adverse health consequences to ignoring what sex a child is.

PlanDeRaccordement Sun 13-Sep-20 18:05:09

This is eerily similar to prior historical and ancient descents into Dark Ages.
An ideology takes control and part of it is to undo all scientific and reason progress in a civilisation. The civilisation then collapses.

Al1Langdownthecleghole Sun 13-Sep-20 18:20:59

Can't really be bothered to engage with what I strongly suspect are heavily manipulated facts, but world-wide, red hair actually is fairly uncommon.

SittingAround1 Sun 13-Sep-20 19:24:01

Sex isn't assumed at birth it is observed. Medical staff don't need to do extra tests to check sex as it's obvious when a child is born.

Intersex conditions are very rare.

RuffleCrow Sun 13-Sep-20 19:29:12

Your friend sounds like a pretentious fool, OP. Can you not just mute/ unfriend?

JellySlice Sun 13-Sep-20 20:13:20

Sex isn't assumed at birth it is observed.

Correct. What is assumed is this nebulous thing called 'gender'. As soon as the baby's - or even the foetus's - sex is known, gender stereotypes are assumed and imposed upon them. Which of us was not gifted dainty, impractical, pink and pastel, flower-adorned frocks upon the announcement that our baby was a girl? Which of us 2nd or 3rd timers didn't hear "Bet you're looking forward to a nice, quiet little girl after those tearaway boys of yours"? There are always threads on here asking "AIBU to put 3m ds in tights when the weather is cold?".

No, sex is not assigned, but gender stereotypes are.

That's what feminists are fighting against, and what TRAs and MRAs are fighting for.

merrymouse Sun 13-Sep-20 20:23:23

As for differing medical needs, it should be clear from the above that a wrong assumption about someone sex could indeed lead to a misunderstanding of their physical needs and abilities and, if anything, should be a reason not to assume it for the birth certificate.

If people are regularly receiving incorrect medical treatment because they have a DSD, then the answer is to run additional tests on all babies at birth. However, I suspect the reason this isn't done is that sex is almost always observed correctly.

We also don't have any insight into what will happen to each baby physically when they reach puberty

We really do have a lot of insight into what will happen to each baby at puberty, and this is why we don't take all girls to A&E when they have their first period.

OP, I think your friend is greatly over estimating the incidence of DSDs that would make it difficult to determine sex.

Your friend is also misunderstanding the point of a birth certificate, which is a copy of information held by the registrar. A birth is a matter of public record, and the information is not just recorded for the person who has just been born.

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