Oklahoma State Rep Slams Governor Kevin Stitt for Saying 'No Such Thing' as Nonbinary

Oklahoma's first nonbinary state representative criticized Governor Kevin Stitt for saying "there is no such thing as non-binary sex," remarking that his comments are damaging to both the LGBTQ community and the working relationship between lawmakers.

Stitt, a Republican, made the comments after the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) was required to issue a birth certificate with a nonbinary gender label following a lawsuit.

"I believe that people are created by God to be male or female. Period," he 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."

However, State Representative Mauree Turner, a Democrat, spoke against the comments in an interview with KOKH-TV, a local television news station.

Turner was elected in 2020, becoming the nation's first nonbinary state lawmaker.

"If you have to work with people who adamantly oppose your existence, right, to the point to where we can't work together, you can't talk to me, you can't talk to me like I'm a human being—you don't see me. That damages anyone's working relationship," they told KOKH.

They added: "If we are continuously saying like, 'You're not real, you have to suppress that part of you,' what is that going to do to our community? What's that going to do to our kids."

Turner also took to Twitter to express their thoughts on Stitt's statement.

"As a non-binary Oklahoma who has to sit in rooms with these folks who quite literally pretend that I don't exist - I don't expect anything less from them," they wrote in a series of tweets.

Stitt's comments came after the state issued its first nonbinary birth certificate following a settlement between the State Department of Health and Kit Lorelied, who sued the department after it refused a request to provide a nonbinary designation on their birth certificate. The attorney general's office represented the department in the suit, and they were able to reach the settlement in May.

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

Turner told KOKH that the change is "really, really important."

"To be able to have that autonomy and have that part, that real intimate part of you really kind of recognized in a big way is really, really important in more ways than one," they told the news station.

Stitt has previously faced criticism from LGBTQ+ advocates over legislation they have called discriminatory.

In May 2020, he signed a bill into law that requires anyone handling human remains to be notified if the deceased was HIV-positive. Advocates called it redundant and raised concerns that it would revive old stereotypes, according to Tulsa Public Radio.

Newsweek reached out to Turner and Stitt for comment Saturday but had not heard back by publication. This story will be updated with any response.

Governor Kevin Stitt
Oklahoma’s first nonbinary state representative criticized Governor Kevin Stitt after he said “there is no such thing as “non-binary.” Here, Stitt speaks during a countable at the White House in June 2020. Alex Wong/Getty Images