Oklahoma Gov. Stitt Signs Executive Order Banning Nonbinary Birth Certificates

Oklahoma Gov. Stitt Signs Executive Order Banning Nonbinary Birth Certificates kevin stitt speaks in state dining room Gov. Kevin Stitt, R-Okla., speaks during a roundtable at the state dining room of the White House, June 18, 2020, in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

By Charlie McCarthy | Thursday, 11 November 2021 02:50 PM

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, this week ordered the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) to stop issuing gender-neutral birth certificates.

The Republican governor signed an executive order Monday to block the state from issuing birth certificates with an "X" gender marker, The Oklahoman reported.

Oklahoma issued its first nonbinary birth certificate last month. Nonbinary people do not identify as strictly male or female.

Stitt, in the executive order, said that by issuing a gender-neutral birth certificate, the health department amended the document in a manner not allowed by state law.

The governor urged the Oklahoma state legislature to "immediately pass legislation that will clarify, to the extent necessary, that changes in sex or gender on a birth certificate, or a designation of nonbinary is contrary to Oklahoma law," The Hill reported

"I believe that people are created by God to be male or female. Period," Stitt said in an earlier statement, The Hill reported.

"There is no such thing as nonbinary sex, and I wholeheartedly condemn the purported OSDH court settlement that was entered into by rogue activists who acted without receiving proper approval or oversight."

The governor's comments drew backlash from the LGBTQ community and its supporters.

Oklahoma Democrat state Rep. Mauree Turner, who identifies as nonbinary, took offense to Stitt saying that nonbinary sex does not exist.

Oklahoma’s Office of Vital Records, within the health department, traditionally has issued birth certificates or amended birth certificates only with the sex designation of male or female.

But the health department, in conjunction with the attorney general's office, recently settled a lawsuit with a former Oklahoma resident who sought an amended version of their birth certificate that matched their nonbinary gender identity, The Oklahoman reported.

As part of the settlement agreement, a nonbinary birth certificate was issued to Oregon resident Kit Lorelied on Oct. 7. The health department also agreed to update its website to indicate that it will issue a birth certificate with an "X" gender marker upon receipt of an Oklahoma court order.

Stitt, though, ordered the health department to remove any language from its website that addresses gender-neutral birth certificates or is inconsistent with current state law on amending birth certificates.

Nicole McAfee, the executive director of Freedom Oklahoma, expressed doubts that Stitt can unilaterally overturn a major point of the settlement agreement.

"While the executive order is full of attacks suggesting the Health Department, and by extension, the attorney general’s office, violated statute in entering into the legal settlement, it also ignores that the separation of powers exists for exactly a moment like this in which the Governor does not have the authority to overturn an agreement entered into in a court of law," McAfee said in a statement.

Fifteen states allow residents to mark their birth certificates with male, female, or "X gender," according to the Movement Advancement Project. A total of 24 states and Washington, D.C. issue new birth certificates without sex reassignment surgery or a court order.