Lambda Legal to 10th Circuit: Reverse Ruling Upholding Oklahoma's Discriminatory Birth Certificate Policy

(Denver, CO - March 20, 2024) - Today, Lambda Legal urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to reverse a lower court ruling upholding Oklahoma's discriminatory policy of categorically prohibiting transgender people born in Oklahoma from correcting the gender marker on their birth certificates to match their gender identity.

"Today, we had the opportunity to make the case to the Tenth Circuit that Oklahoma's decision to strip transgender people of the long-standing ability to obtain birth certificates that match their gender identity is unconstitutional discrimination and a violation of their right to privacy," said Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Peter Renn. "Accurate identity documents are basic tools that are essential to everyone's ability to navigate modern life. Oklahoma's ban is not only discriminatory, but it also exposes transgender people to harassment, abuse, and physical danger. We urged the court to reverse the decision upholding this regressive policy, which is connected to a larger national effort seeking to erase the legal existence of transgender people."

On November 8, 2021, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt issued an executive order that overturned the long-standing practice of the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) to allow transgender people to correct their birth certificates to match their gender identity. This practice had been in place for at least 14 years, from 1997 to 2021. Governor Stitt justified this reversal, stating, "I believe that people are created by God to be male or female. Period," and vowing to take "whatever action necessary to protect Oklahoma values and our way of life." Previously, transgender people could correct their birth certificates by presenting a court order to OSDH, but following the executive order, OSDH has refused to comply with such orders.

Lambda Legal and Tulsa attorney Karen Keith Wilkins filed Fowler v. Stitt in March 2022 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma on behalf of a transgender woman, Rowan Fowler, and two transgender men.

The U.S. District Court dismissed the complaint in June 2023, and Lambda Legal appealed the decision to the Tenth Circuit.

Read more about Fowler v. Stitt here.

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education and policy work.

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