Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed into law a bill that bans nonbinary identification of residents on their government-issued documents, making his state the first in the nation to require birth certificates to indicate only male or female as a person’s biological sex.
The bill, SB 1100, “requires the biological sex designation on a birth certificate to be either male or female and prohibits a nonbinary or any symbol representing a nonbinary designation.”
“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, the House sponsor of the bill, said in a statement, according to The Associated Press. “We want clarity and truth on official state documents. Information should be based on established medical fact and not an ever-changing social dialogue.”
While many states only allow the sex designation of male or female on birth certificates, the law makes Oklahoma the first to prohibit nonbinary identification for those who don't want to identify as their birth sex and instead self-identify as the opposite sex or claim to be gender fluid.
State Rep. Mauree Turner, a Democrat, who publicly identifies as nonbinary, called the law “extreme and grotesque.”
“I find it 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. “Some of our fate, for now, lies in the hands of some people who claim to get it and some people who absolutely don’t.”
Last October, the state issued its first nonbinary birth certificate, which led Republican lawmakers to pass legislation banning the misidentification of residents' sex on the document.
The governor said at the time he would take “whatever action necessary” to prohibit the practice.
“I believe that people are created by God to be male or female. Period,” Stitt said at the time. “There is no such thing as nonbinary sex, and I wholeheartedly condemn the purported [Oklahoma State Department of Health] court settlement that was entered into by rogue activists who acted without receiving proper approval or oversight.”
A month later, Stitt signed an executive order asking the Department of Health to stop amending or issuing birth certificates with a nonbinary option.
Fifteen states and the District of Columbia specifically allow a gender marker designation outside of male or female, and the number will increase to 16 on July 1 when Vermont’s new statute goes into effect, the AP noted.
Last month, the Biden administration announced that airport security would allow passengers to choose their gender as “X,” regardless of the gender listed in their passports or other IDs, and Americans would be able to select their gender on their passports without supporting medical documentation.
Previously, the U.S. State Department had defended the gender binary for passports by arguing that it ensured accuracy, helped identify eligibility, and made passport data useful for other agencies.
The department had also previously contended that there was no medical consensus on determining intersex identity and that creating a third designation for sex, such as an X mark, was not feasible.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled in May 2020 that three of the five reasons argued by the State Department “lacked record support” and sent the case back down to the district court level.
The circuit panel still considered the reasons for helping identify individuals ineligible for passports and helping to make passport data useful for other agencies valid.