No, that’s not a typo. A city Health Department form for new parents requesting birth certificates asks the “woman giving birth” if she’s male or female. Along with routine questions — mother’s maiden name, mother’s legal name, mother’s Social Security number — is a gender question that has raised a few eyebrows. And just in case the inquiry is not clear, the birth-certificate request provides a convenient check box and asks the question in capital letters. “What is your DATE OF BIRTH, current AGE and SEX?” the form asks in the section clearly marked “Mother/Parent (Woman Giving Birth).”
“To be clear, it is possible for a person who has given birth to a child to identify as male,” said Susan Sommer, a lawyer for Lambda Legal, an advocacy group for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people. Sommer said that given various transgender stages, there is room for the person who gives birth to check the male box. Not to leave the father out, the form asks dads the same question and gives them the same check-box options. Only there’s no “giving birth” notation in that section.
While the “sex” question might baffle some new parents, experts said the birth certificate form was created several years ago and was born out of the marriage equality movement. Until a change in the form was made, married gay and lesbian couples had to go to court to secure their names on birth certificates, a legal hurdle that blocked parental rights that most people took for granted. Then-Gov. David Paterson allowed for the change in 2008 across the state everywhere but in New York City, which keeps its own vital statistics and sets its own rules for them.
City officials reviewed their policy and made a similar change in 2009. “A form that is respectful and doesn’t make assumptions about sex or gender of people parenting children is fine to me,” Sommer said. A DOH spokesman was unavailable for comment. Advocates encourage same-sex couples to adopt because doing so gives them extra legal protection. But the birth-certificate provision can clarify parental rights in situations ranging from a hospital nursery to a school registrar’s office, Sommer said. New York Post