As Republican lawmakers nationwide have mobilized to restrict LGBTQ rights, Oklahoma’s GOP governor this week staked out new territory in the growing culture war: birth certificates.
On Tuesday, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill prohibiting nonbinary gender markers on birth certificates for people who don’t identify as male or female — the first law of its kind in the United States, according to legal experts.
It’s the latest restriction on gender identity in the state, after Stitt in November issued an executive order to prohibit trans residents from changing the gender on their birth certificates, which are also used to secure other forms of identification.
Republican backers describe the new rules as reflecting their religious beliefs, arguing that gender is binary and immutable. “I believe that people are created by God to be male or female,” Stitt said when he issued the executive order. “There is no such thing as nonbinary sex.”
The new rules have raised alarm among advocates, though, who say they represent a government attack on personal identity and create barriers to employment and housing. Transgender people in Oklahoma say it’s difficult to navigate life with documents that don’t match their gender identity.GOP lawmakers push historic wave of bills targeting rights of LGBTQ teens, children and their families
“My Social Security card and my birth certificate don’t match. I am looking for a job now. It brings up a lot of questions,” said Rowan Fowler, 47, who obtained a court order last year in Oklahoma to change her birth certificate from male to female but has been blocked by Stitt’s order. “What genitalia I was born with is no one’s business but mine and my doctor at this point. These are embarrassing questions that no one should have to answer.”
Bills to ban changes to gender markers on birth certificates have also been introduced in Texas, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana and Virginia in recent years. None passed, but advocates say Oklahoma’s law could result in a new wave of similar bills.
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