Oklahoma Issues Nonbinary Birth Certificate, Governor Says, 'There Is No Such Thing'

Oklahoma's State Department of Health issued a birth certificate this year with a nonbinary gender label after reaching a settlement with a state resident who sued, the Associated Press reported. The move drew outrage from some of the state's Republican leaders Thursday, including Governor Kevin Stitt who said that there is "no such thing" as a nonbinary identity.

"I believe that people are created by God to be male or female. Period," Stitt said in a statement. "There is no such thing as non-binary 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."

Kit Lorelied, who was born in Oklahoma but now lives in Oregon, identified as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns. Lorelied sued the State Department of Health after the agency denied a request to provide a nonbinary designation on their birth certificate, the AP reported.

The Office of the Attorney General represented the department in the suit, and both parties were able to reach a settlement in May. Lorelied was issued the new birth certificate that same month, and the department agreed to add a nonbinary option for the documents, the AP reported.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Stitt Questions Nonbinary Birth Certificate
Republican leaders in Oklahoma are expressing outrage after learning the State Department of Health issued a birth certificate this year with a nonbinary designation after reaching a settlement in which it agreed to add nonbinary as an option. Above, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt speaks during a ceremony, in Oklahoma City on May 7. Sue Ogrocki/AP Photo

A spokeswoman for Stitt did not immediately respond to a message seeking to clarify who the governor alleged was a rogue activist. The agreement was reached by Lorelied's attorney, the Department of Health and the Office of the Attorney General.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia currently recognize nonbinary gender status and permit such designation on identifying documents, according to Lorelied's lawsuit.

Oklahoma's health commissioner, Dr. Lance Frye, said in a statement that the settlement was reached under the administration of former Attorney General Mike Hunter and that the agency was working with Stitt and new Attorney General John O'Connor on how to proceed.

"Should a challenge to the previous agreement be made, we will proceed accordingly," Frye said.

Lorelied's attorney, Christopher Brecht, said his client was very happy with the settlement and that he was surprised at the outrage from GOP leaders.

"I certainly don't understand the vehement objection to something like this," he said. "I don't understand how this impacts binary individuals, so the swift opposition is surprising to me."

Brecht said his client simply wanted a birth certificate that reflected who they are.

"From my perspective, having the very first thing that identifies you to the world, to have that not identify you accurately, I can't think of anything more degrading," he said.

Statements from House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat said the settlement amounted to unauthorized overreach by executive agencies.

State Senator Micheal Bergstrom, a Republican from Adair, has filed a bill for the upcoming session that would require male and female to be the only options on birth certificates.

Oklahoma GOP Against Nonbinary Birth Certificates
Oklahoma state Sen. Micheal Bergstrom is one of a handful of Republican leaders from the state pushing back against the Oklahoma State Department of Health's addition of a nonbinary option on birth certificates. Above, Bergstrom speaks during a Senate Finance meeting in Oklahoma City, February 7, 2017. Sue Ogrocki/AP Photo