The Washington Times, a factory for far-right political discourse for more than a generation, is going after the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund over the lawsuit the group has filed against the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for its policies regarding the issuance of changed birth certificates for transgender people who were born here.
Last month, TLDEF mounted the first-ever legal challenge to policies, such as New York’s, that require transgender people to undergo gender reassignment surgery prior to have the sex designation on their birth certificate changed. The suit maintains that the policy subjects transgender people to harassment and discrimination in violation of the city’s Human Rights Law, which since 2002 has specifically barred discrimination based on actual or perceived gender identity and expression.
TLDEF staff attorney Noah Lewis noted that “a birth certificate is a fundamental form of identification,” increasingly important at a time when post-9/11 security regulations require picture identification for access to airline flights and even Manhattan skyscrapers. Getting legal identification can be difficult in cases where an individual lacks a gender-appropriate birth certificate.
But in an editorial titled “The latest birth certificate scandal” –– a snarky, if sophomoric reference to the canard about President Barack Obama not having been born in Hawaii –– the Washington Times ridicules transgender activist Joann Prinzivalli’s stated goal of correcting the “mistake” originally made on her birth certificate.
“Calling the accurate sex recorded at a birth “a mistake” is the misleading yet predictable result of a creeping activist agenda quietly transforming the country,” the newspaper wrote, noting that “shrinks are under pressure” to abandon their long-held view that “believing oneself to be the gender opposite to that indicated by one’s physical characteristics and sex chromosomes is a medical condition or a psychiatric disorder.”
The Times pointed out, with disapproval, the State Department’s action last year to ease requirements on transgender citizens aiming to make a correction to their passports similar to that sought in the birth certificate suit.
In late 2006, the city health department initially proposed a loosening in its policy toward changing birth certificates, but after soliciting community input, which overwhelmingly supported the shift or urged an even more liberal approach, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, who was then health commissioner and now heads the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pulled back the offer.