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Oklahoma Has Banned Nonbinary Gender Markers on State Birth Certificates

It’s the first state to issue such a ban.

Miguel Sotomayor/Getty

In a new type of attack on transgender rights, Oklahoma has become the first state to ban nonbinary gender markers on birth certificates. The law took place immediately.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, a Republican, signed a bill on Tuesday that states: “The biological sex designation on a certificate of birth issued under this section shall be either male or female and shall not be nonbinary or any symbol representing a nonbinary designation including but not limited to the letter ‘X’.” 

The new legislation was prompted by a lawsuit against the state of Oklahoma last year. Following a civil case brought by an Oklahoma-born resident of Oregon, the state granted its first nonbinary gender marker on a birth certificate. The legislation also follows a federal decision in earlier April that allows for people to select “X” as their gender on new passport applications.

The lawsuit stated, per The Oklahoman, “Categorically depriving nonbinary persons from a birth certificate matching their gender identity, simply because Oklahoma does not recognize such a designation, harms their health and well-being, by impeding nonbinary individuals’ ability to live a life consistent with how they see themselves.”

The day after the case was settled, Gov. Stitt issued an executive order banning any changes to gender markers on birth certificates. Last month, Lambda Legal brought forth a lawsuit challenging the executive order.

Fifteen states and Washington D.C. currently allow for a nonbinary gender marker on birth certificates, according to NPR. On July 1, Vermont will bring the total to 16.

Earlier this year, the U.S. issued its first passport with a nonbinary “X” gender marker. Washington D.C. and 22 states allow for a nonbinary gender marker on drivers licenses.

Oklahoma’s newest attack on nonbinary rights is part of a larger push from the religious right to limit the rights of LGBTQ people in general, and transgender people in particular. Trans youth especially have been targeted with laws banning their right to play sports, access bathrooms, and even receive gender-affirming healthcare.

“Governor Stitt and the anti-equality legislators in the Oklahoma State House have been relentless in their attack on LGBTQ+ rights, and particularly for transgender people,” Cathryn Oakley, senior counsel for the Human Rights Campaign and state legislative director, said in a statement last week, per CNN.

“Prohibiting nonbinary identity markers is just another attempt to erase the identity of transgender and nonbinary people. This goes against the views of the vast majority of Oklahomans, and people across the country.”