Sex or “Gender Identity”? US Doctors Can’t Seem to Decide


At its annual meeting this week, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced new policies aimed at “broadening how gender identity is defined within medicine and how transgender patients are treated by society.” However, the two biggest changes are actually contradictory to each other.

The group, which represents over 200,000 doctors, adopted a policy of opposition to any restrictions blocking a transgender person from “accessing basic human services and public facilities in line with one’s gender identity.”

That means the AMA wants to permit males who identify as female to use women’s restrooms and vice versa. Gender identity, not biological sex, are their criteria for access to restrooms.

On the other hand, the second major new AMA policy contradicts that one by saying that “reproductive potential,” not gender identity, is to be prioritized:

Delegates called upon the AMA to work with the Food and Drug Administration to establish a gender-neutral patient categorization in risk evaluation and mitigation strategies (REMS). The idea is to take the focus away from gender identity and place it on reproductive potential. That is because there are patients who identify as male who may be taking medication that puts them at risk for damage to their biologically female reproductive systems.

The AMA is realizing that messing with biology is problematic. Although transgender people can identify as a different gender and have hormone replacement therapy, unless they have undergone sex reassignment surgeries (which very few have), they still have the reproductive systems of their biological sex. This presents a challenge to medical professionals attempting to help them.

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The current practice of changing the pronouns that doctors use to refer to transgender patients does nothing to change their actual medical needs, which are based on biology. Although it may help transgender people feel better about themselves, it does nothing to ensure they are not being harmed by medication or treatment.

It is as pointless as the United Kingdom’s new policy under which pregnant women can no longer be called “expectant mothers” because the label excludes biological women who identify as men. Instead, they must be called “pregnant people.”

The AMA’s new policy focusing on reproductive potential acknowledges that pronoun and name changes on paper do not change the actual medical needs of real people. By announcing this new policy to “take the focus away from gender identity and place it on reproductive potential,” the AMA is admitting that while you can change labels, you cannot change biology.

One wonders why the AMA is not consistent in applying that same focus on biological sex, rather than gender identity, to their bathroom policy as well.

Andrea Moury

Andrea Moury is a regular contributor to

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