Oklahoma Governor Signs First U.S. Ban on Nonbinary Birth Certificates

(Kevin Stitt Facebook page)
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) has signed a bill forbidding the use of nonbinary gender markers on state birth certificates.

People who are nonbinary do not identify with traditional male or female genders.

Experts say it's the first ban of its kind written into law in the nation.

The new law made permanent an executive order from Stitt who last year blocked the Oklahoma State Department of Health from issuing nonbinary birth certificates. It went into effect immediately when the governor signed it on Tuesday.

The bill followed a flap last year over the Department of Health's agreement in a civil case allowing a nonbinary option. The birth certificate, in that case, was issued to an Oklahoma-born Oregon resident who sued after the agency initially refused the request.

Lambda Legal, an LGBT-focused civil rights group, challenged the executive order in federal court, but the state has not yet responded.

"We must stand up and put a stop to this nonsense regarding biological sex," Sen. Michael Bergstrom (R-Adair), the Senate sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. "It's not a complicated issue—biologically, you're either a male or female. There should be no other option to choose from on a birth certificate."

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia specifically allow a gender designation outside of male or female. Vermont will become the next state to allow the designation when its new statute takes effect on July 1.

"People are free to believe whatever they want about their identity, but science has determined people are either biologically male or female at birth," Oklahoma Rep. Sheila Dills (R-Tulsa), the House sponsor of the bill, said in a statement after the bill passed the House last week. "We want clarity and truth on official state documents. Information should be based on established medical fact and not an ever-changing social dialogue."

Oklahomans in 2020 elected the nation's first openly nonbinary legislator in the country, Oklahoma City Democrat Rep. Mauree Turner, who said it was painful to have colleagues pass this bill.

"I find it a very extreme and grotesque use of power in this body to write this law and try to pass it—when literally none of them live like us," Turner tweeted the day the bill was debated.

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