When we are asked to check a sex-identity box on a bureaucratic form, what definition of sex is being invoked and to what end?
By the 20th week into a pregnancy, an ultrasound scan can be used to determine a baby’s sex and parents are given the option of learning this information, or waiting to hear ‘It’s a boy!’ or ‘It’s a girl!’ At birth, the delivering physician or midwife visually confirms and records the previewed sex identity on a birth certificate application form. Our governments have some good reasons for collecting and keeping sex identity information about us in the aggregate for the purposes of demographic studies, public health and affirmative-action measures. But the sex markers on state-issued birth certificates are not necessary for these goals. In fact, a government has no business collecting information about our personal sex identities at birth, or keeping track of the decisions we might make about our sex identities over the course of our lifetimes.