Judge Won't Change Birth Certificate
[BEDFORD, Pa.] - A judge said he was not authorized to change the sex listed on the birth certificate of a man who had a sex-change operation last year.
Truck driver Daniel Gryphon MacNeal, formerly Ellen Bernadine Thompson, underwent a sex change last year and wanted to change his birth certificate - and consequently his driver's license - to reflect that he is no longer a woman.
"Every time I get stopped for safety checks or whatever, if it's a super cop, they pick up on the fact that my license says I'm a female and I look like a male," said MacNeal, 35, who has a beard and mustache because of the hormone therapy he began 12 years ago.
Bedford County Judge Thomas Ling ruled Thursday he does not have the authority to change MacNeal's birth certificate.
"Gender is based on the number of matched genes and chromosomes. Sex organs are secondary," Ling said. "I would have to be presented with a blood test showing the gender."
MacNeal and his attorney, Frederick Gieg, vowed to go to the Legislature to seek a law that would allow judges to make such a change.
MacNeal said he hopes to get married someday, but cannot if his birth certificate says he is a woman. He said he was married for 10 years, but has been divorced since 2000 and has no children.
The Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights in Philadelphia said MacNeal was seeking the change in the wrong venue.
"The court doesn't have the power to change the gender, but it can be done through the Pennsylvania Department of Vital Statistics," said Tiffany Palmer, legal director at the center. "Right now, it's addressed administratively rather than by law."
The center said it wants to keep such decisions out of the courtroom.
"There's not a lot of grounds about what legally determines what is male and what is female," Palmer said. "And our argument is it should be up to the individual, not the courts."
Gieg said he brought the case to court because he knew of no other venue.