That thorny question is at the heart of this Reuters story about transgendered New Yorkers who find themselves at odds with those who process birth certificates:
A group of transgender residents filed a lawsuit against New York City over what they say are burdensome requirements for them to change the gender on their birth certificates.That's it? A doctor's note saying Sam is now Sheila, and that's that?
The city's birth certificate requirements amount to discrimination for transgender residents, said Noah Lewis, an attorney representing the residents in the case.
New York's Health Department requires residents to show proof of surgical procedures in order to change the gender status on a birth certificate.
But the lawsuit, filed by the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund in state Supreme Court on behalf of three residents, said many transgender people cannot afford the surgical procedures.
Instead, a note from a doctor verifying someone's transgender status should be sufficient, it said...
Aside from considerations of being sensitive to this particular group, in the age of terrorism, doesn't that sound like something that could possibly be used to the advantage of a clever jihadi? If I can imagine a dude who's looking to blow stuff up giving a fake tale of gender confusion to a trusting doctor so he can get a note saying he's a chick, use it to get official documentation, and then try to hide an explosive in the capacious folks of Islamic gal-bag wear. And if I can conceive of such a thing, surely the jihadis and their masters can, too.
That aside, is gender less a matter of physical reality than it is of seeing oneself as belonging to the other gender, physical reality be damned? A question that requires a lot more study, I think.