Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has signed a bill to ban the use of non-binary gender options on state birth certificates, the first such ban in the United States.
The state legislature has passed a series of bills in recent months targeting reproductive freedom, transgender athletes and, now, non-binary people amid a national wave of non-binary anti-gender legislation.
The bill signed Tuesday stems from a specific Oklahoma context. Last year, an Oregonian who was born in Oklahoma sued the state Department of Health after it refused to allow them to be identified as non-binary on their birth certificate. The State Department of Health added the option in a resulting agreement.
Stitt and several Oklahoma Republicans reacted strongly. The director of the state health department has resigned, and the governor has issued an executive order prohibiting changes to state birth certificates.
Now, the state has gone further to ensure that people who identify as non-binary cannot see their gender status correctly reflected on their birth certificate.
Although several states only allow male and female gender options on their birth certificates, Oklahoma is now the first state to explicitly ban non-binary identifiers.
Some states are going in the opposite direction. When Vermont enacts a new statute this summer, it will make 16 states allow gender options outside of the male-female binary on birth certificates.
Additionally, the US State Department recently issued its first passport with an “X” gender designation and has said it will begin offering broader options next year.
That’s important, because many Americans don’t identify as male or female and aren’t represented by the gender binary. One such American, Mauree Turner, became the first openly non-binary person elected to a state legislature when she was elected by Oklahoma City in 2020.
“It strikes me as 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 we do,” Turner, a Democrat who is also the first Muslim member from the state of Oklahoma. legislature, he tweeted the day the legislature debated the bill.
State Representative Sheila Dills, the Republican who sponsored the bill in the House, felt differently.
“People are free to believe what they want about their identity, but science has determined that people are biologically male or female at birth,” Dills said in a statement.
“We want clarity and truth in official state documents. The information must be based on established medical facts and not on an ever-changing social dialogue.”
However, it is not an established medical fact that people’s gender can only be male or female. People’s gender can be the same as or different from the sex they were assigned at birth, and many people do not identify as exclusively male or female.