CHICAGO -

The American Medical Association is putting its weight behind designating cheerleading as a sport.

The nation's largest doctors' group adopted that as policy Monday at its annual meeting in Chicago. AMA members say cheerleading is as rigorous as many other activities that high schools and the NCAA consider sports. Adding it to the list would mean more safety measures for cheerleaders and proper training for their coaches.

Cheerleading is a leading cause of catastrophic injury in female athletes at the high school and college level, Samantha Rosman, a Boston-area pediatrician, told AMA delegates during floor debate before the vote.

"These girls are flipping 10, 20 feet in the air," Rosman said. "We need to stand up for what is right for our patients and demand they get the same protection as their football colleagues."

The policy echoes one adopted by the American Academy of Pediatrics two years ago.

In other action Monday, the AMA said transgender people should be able to switch the sex designation on their birth certificates without having sex-change surgery.

Most states make the operations a prerequisite. But the new AMA policy acknowledges that gender identity doesn't always match a person's birth anatomy.

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