May 1, 2022

Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt has been absolutely relentless when it comes to attacking trans and nonbinary youth in the state of Oklahoma. On Tuesday, Stitt signed a hateful bill into law that bans nonbinary sex markers on birth certificates, as reported by CNN. The legislation insists that the sex designated on a birth certificate must be either “male” or “female.” It may not include nonbinary or any symbol related to nonbinary identity, including but not limited to “X.”

Mind you, a growing number of states (soon to be 16, in fact, plus Washington, D.C.) in the nation recognize X as a sex marker on official documents and forms of identification. It’s also permitted on U.S. passports. It’s also allowed on official government documents in a number of countries across the globe. But Republicans don’t want trans and nonbinary people to have even a shred of dignity or government recognition. After all, it becomes much easier to stop trans and nonbinary people from accessing gender-affirming health care, for example, if their gender is affirmed by the government. And that’s exactly what conservatives don’t want.

As a refresher, you might remember that the state’s Department of Health actually did allow nonbinary markers on birth certificates back in 2021 as part of a lawsuit settlement. However, that victory was short-lived as Stitt reversed the decision via executive order.

Stitt’s new ban on nonbinary birth certificates is the first of its kind here in the United States, but follows in the footsteps of many other anti-trans measures pushed by Republicans, including efforts to keep trans people out of sports and to deny them access to safe, age-appropriate, gender-affirming health care. Stitt himself, for instance, already signed an anti-trans sports bill into law earlier this year.

"People are free to believe whatever they want about their identity,” Republican Rep. Sheila Dills, who sponsored the House version of this anti-queer bill, said as reported by NPR. Dills went on to add that “science” determines sex at birth and that people want “clarity and truth” on official state documents.

As we know, first of all, her take is patently incorrect as it leaves out intersex people. It’s also clearly offensive and demeaning because people’s identities are valid. Identities, including pronouns and sex designations, are not optional or preferences. Having incorrect sex designators is in fact inaccurate, just in the opposite direction of which Dills is arguing. If we want accuracy in our records, we must expand the system to allow for nonbinary and trans folks to safely show up as their authentic selves.

Adding to the harm done here in Oklahoma is the reality that the first openly nonbinary state lawmaker actually lives and serves in Oklahoma. Democratic Rep. Mauree Turner took to Twitter the day the bill was debated and said it was a “very extreme” and “grotesque” use of power to both write the law and try to pass it when none of the people involved have to face the hardships and oppression of trans and nonbinary people.

"I find it 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 us," Turner tweeted on April 21, the day the bill was debated.

“Have you ever had your colleagues vote on your personal documentation which will ultimately affect how you show up,” they continued. “Right in front of your eyes and say nothing to you about it?”

They went on to tweet that while they’re willing to work across the aisle, as they’re often asked if they’re prepared to do, we must also keep in mind that if conservatives are this hateful publicly, what might they be like when the “cameras are off,” as they put it?

And that’s a question we all need to keep in mind—brave folks are fighting the good fight, but we have to get involved as allies and advocates and make sure we aren’t waiting for the already marginalized and vulnerable to take on the brunt of the labor.

One thing we can all do? Educate people in our lives about trans issues and why the fight for equality isn’t an option.

Published with permission from Daily Kos.

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