The New England Journal of Medicine is one of the most popular and respected scientific medical publications in the world, but its reputation for a rigorous fidelity to facts and science won’t last long if it continues on this current path. Last month, the journal published an ill-conceived piece entitled, “Failed Assignments: Rethinking Sex Designations on Birth Certificates,” which made the argument that hospitals are doing some kind of grievous harm to both individuals and societies by assigning babies to one sex or the other.
Let’s dig in:
Assigning sex at birth also doesn’t capture the diversity of people’s experiences. About 6 in 1000 people identify as transgender, meaning that their gender identity doesn’t match the sex they were assigned at birth. Others are nonbinary, meaning they don’t exclusively identify as a man or a woman, or gender nonconforming, meaning their behavior or appearance doesn’t align with social expectations for their assigned sex.
The authors acknowledge that there may be some ephemeral benefit to including sex information somewhere on the birth certificate, but they insist that it should go at the bottom alongside other vaguely important contributions to general demographics.
“Moving sex designations below the line would be in keeping with legal developments deemphasizing sex distinctions,” they write. “Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has held, in Obergefell v. Hodges, that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, only a few legal contexts relying on sex designations remain. In these contexts, using information from birth certificates is not the best way to categorize people.”
So, when you struggle through the nonsense, you see that the authors are making two claims here: One, that birth certificate information is only useful in a legal context, and two, that there are woefully few legal scenarios anymore where assigned sex matters all that much. We would have to reluctantly agree with them on the latter claim (we can certainly see which way the winds are blowing, in any case), but we don’t agree at all on the former. Sex is vitally important from a medical standpoint, and there are countless studies that have shown this to be true.
“Being male or female is an important basic human variable that affects health and illness throughout the life span,” reads a 2001 study approved by the National Research Council. “Differences in health and illness are influenced by individual genetic and physiological constitutions, as well as by an individual’s interaction with environmental and experiential factors. The incidence and severity of diseases vary between the sexes and may be related to differences in exposures, routes of entry and the processing of a foreign agent, and cellular responses.”
It seems to us that the left is desperately trying to convince us of two truths that are mutually exclusive: There are no meaningful differences between men and women…and there are people of both sexes who were born “in the wrong bodies.” How does a man “know” that he should have been a woman if there is little to no difference between a man and a woman? It seems to us that this man is just trying to culturally appropriate the experience of being a woman. For some reason, this is a great evil when it comes to race and yet a glorious occurrence when it comes to gender.
At a time when public trust in our institutions is at an all-time low, this is not the kind of confused thinking that respected medical journals should be endorsing.