As Kentucky’s General Assembly opened its 2023 session on Tuesday, a pre-filed draft bill could prohibit the use of “nonbinary” designations by people who identify as such on birth certificates issued in the state. People who identify as “nonbinary” do not identify with traditional male or female genders.
The legislation, which was pre-filed as an interim draft by Republican state Rep. Bill Wesley in mid-December, would “require the biological sex designation on a birth certificate to be either male or female.”
It would further prohibit a nonbinary or any other symbol representing a nonbinary designation, including the letter “X.” Wesley did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication.
There is currently no sex identity marker other than male and female on government documents in Kentucky, according to WKU Public Radio.
The Kentucky legislature is controlled by Republicans in both houses, but the executive branch is controlled by Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, who has been critical of and vetoed other bills related to LGBT policy.
A bill banning transgender athletes in girls’ sports was vetoed by the governor last year, but easily overridden by the Republican supermajority in the state legislature, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Oklahoma Passed Similar Law Last Year
In Oklahoma, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt signed legislation last April—the first such legislation to be signed into law in the country, according to the Associated Press.
The bill was passed by the legislature in Oklahoma after the state Department of Health settled a civil case by an Oklahoma-born Oregon resident who sued after requesting a nonbinary option.
The settlement allowed a nonbinary option on birth certificates in Oklahoma until Stitt issued an executive order prohibiting changes on birth certificates, in defiance of the court order.
When signing the order last year, the governor said “I believe that people are created by God to be male or female. There is no such thing as nonbinary sex.”
Many states only offer male or female gender options on birth certificates, but Oklahoma was the first to put into law the ban on nonbinary options, according to Lambda Legal, a pro-LGBT organization that sued Oklahoma over the move.
“People are free to believe whatever they want about their identity, but science has determined people are either biologically male or female at birth,” said Oklahoma state Rep. Sheila Dills, the House sponsor of the bill, in a statement after the bill passed.
“We want clarity and truth on official state documents. Information should be based on established medical fact and not an ever-changing social dialogue,” said the now-retired Republican.
Oklahomans in 2020 elected the nation’s first openly nonbinary-identifying legislator in the country, Oklahoma City Democrat Rep. Mauree Turner, according to NPR.
“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 posted on Twitter the day the bill was debated in Oklahoma.
Passports Added X Marker Last Year
The U.S. State Department began issuing passports with an “X” gender designation in 2022.
“The Department is setting a precedent as the first federal government agency to offer the X gender marker on an identity document,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the time. “When we announced in June that we had begun this work, we referred to the addition of a third gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming individuals.”
Blinken said the move would define “X” as “unspecified or another gender identity,” adding he believed the “definition is respectful of individuals’ privacy while advancing inclusion.”
Currently, 16 states and the District of Columbia allow an option outside of male or female, according to data from Movement Advancement Project (MAP), an LGBT think tank.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.