Judge won't allow sex change on birth certificate

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com November 23 2002 12:00 AM ET

Ellen can go by Daniel if he wants, but changing the sex listed on his birth certificate is outside the jurisdiction of Pennsylvania's common pleas court, a judge has ruled. Truck driver Daniel Gryphon MacNeal, formerly Ellen Bernadine Thompson, underwent a sex change last year and wanted to revise his birth certificate--and consequently his driver's license--to reflect the change. "Every time I get stopped for safety checks or whatever, if it's a supercop, 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, however, that he does not have the authority to change the sex listed on MacNeal's birth certificate. "Gender is based on the number of matched genes and chromosomes," Ling said. "Sex organs are secondary. I would have to be presented with a blood test showing the gender."

MacNeal and his attorney, Frederick Gieg, vowed to go to the state legislature to seek a law allowing judges to make such a change. MacNeal said he hopes to get married someday but can't 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.