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Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt on Tuesday signed a bill banning non-binary gender markers on birth certificates, making LGBT advocates furious.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health agreed in a civil case last year to allow a non-binary option for individuals who do not identify themselves as either male or female. The birth certificate in that case was issued to an Oklahoma-born Oregon resident who sued after the agency initially denied the request.
The settlement angered Republicans, including the governor. Hans was appointed to head the agency the day after the settlement, and the governor issued a decree banning any change in a person’s gender on birth certificates – despite the settlement agreement.
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The Lambda Legal civil rights group has challenged the ruling in a federal court, but the state has not yet responded. Fox News has contacted the group for comment on the bill.
Many states only offer male or female gender options on birth certificates, but Oklahoma is the first to write the non-binary ban into law.
Currently, 15 states and the District of Columbia specifically allow a gender marker designation outside of male or female, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. That number will rise this summer when Vermont’s new statute goes into effect.
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The U.S. State Department recently announced that it had issued its first passport with an “X” gender designation for individuals who do not identify as male or female and expect to be able to offer the option more widely next year.
“People are free to believe what they want about their identity, but science has determined that people are either biologically male or female at birth,” the Oklahoma Rep. Sheila Dills, Parliament’s sponsor of the bill, in a statement after the bill was passed. House last week. “We want clarity and truth about official state documents. Information should be based on established medical facts and not an ever-changing social dialogue.”
Republicans in conservative states have tabled several bills this year targeting transgender and non-binary people. Last month, Governor Stitt signed a bill banning transgender girls from playing on women’s sports teams, one of many such bans has been signed into law across the country.
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Other conservative states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas, have passed laws banning sex reassignment treatments for minors.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.