Two transgender men and one trans woman have sued the state of Oklahoma over its efforts to block them from amending the gender on their birth certificates.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court by Lambda Legal on behalf of Tulsa residents Rowan Fowler, Allister Hall, and a Creek County resident who chose to remain anonymous, using the initials C.R., alleges that the three faced intentional discrimination “on the basis of [their] transgender status” when they were barred from changing the gender marker on their birth certificate to align with their gender identity.
The lawsuit names Republican Governor Kevin Stitt, Oklahoma Commissioner of Health Keith Reed, and registrar of vital records Kelly Baker as defendants in the lawsuit.
The prohibition on amending gender markers was imposed by Stitt after he issued an executive order banning the practice. Stitt issued the order in response to outrage from his fellow Republicans after the state’s Department of Health complied with a judge’s order and approved an amended birth certificate with a nonbinary gender marker.
The original plaintiff in the case leading to that decision, Kit Lorelied, had sued after being denied the right to have their correct gender reflected on their birth certificate, as trans and nonbinary individuals are currently able to do in 17 states and the District of Columbia.
Stitt has since urged the state legislature to ban “nonbinary gender markers” on vital documents — a proposal that is currently being considered by the state’s senate. The governor has based much of his opposition on his personal religious beliefs that “people are created by God to be male or female. Period,” according to LGBTQ Nation.
Former Oklahoma Commissioner of Health Lance Frye resigned after Stitt and the state legislative bodies learned that the ODSH had allowed an individual to change their gender label to non-binary.
Speaking to The Associated Press, Rowan Fowler, one of the three plaintiffs in the current lawsuit, said that “having a birth certificate that reflects who I am as a human being is crucial and can present a basic issue of safety for me.”
She added that having that “basic tool” stripped away from transgender people puts them in danger and prevents them from going “about their everyday lives with dignity, safety, and respect.”
Stitt’s attempt to bar nonbinary gender markers is yet another example of how state governments in America are aggressively working to limit or restrict transgender rights.
Various bills targeting the transgender community are being proposed in nearlty two dozen state legislatures, seeking to bar trans youth from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity, prohibit them from accessing gender-affirming care, or obtain vital documents reflecting their true identity, among a host of other proposals.
In the most egregious example, in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott recently issued an order requiring medical providers and state child welfare agencies to report on any families with transgender children where youths are believed to have received gender-affirming medical treatments.
Abbott has opined that such care constitutes “child abuse,” and state authorities have launched abuse investigations into at least nine separate families since the order was issued.
Last week, a state judge issued an injunction blocking the state from pursuing the investigations in response to a lawsuit from one of the wronged families. Judge Amy Clark Meachum ruled that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed in proving that Abbott had overstepped his authority and that his order is unconstitutional.
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