Respect Equality

Oklahoma Senate advances legislation targeting transgender, nonbinary youth

(Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press)

Story at a glance

  • Senators in Oklahoma on Thursday advanced three bills targeting the state’s LGBTQ+ community.
  • One of the bills would prevent transgender youth from playing on sports teams aligning with their gender identity. Another would outlaw the use of nonbinary designations on Oklahoma birth certificates and another would restrict mention of LGBTQ+ topics in the classroom.
  • LGBTQ+ advocates have called on Oklahoma’s governor to veto the transgender sports bill heading to his desk, following the actions of other Republican governors in Utah and Indiana.

Oklahoma Senators on Thursday advanced three bills targeting the state’s LGBTQ+ community through the regulation of school sports, identity documents and curricula.

The first bill, known as the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” would require youth sports teams to be designated based on “biological sex,” and parents at the beginning of each school year would be made to sign an affidavit recognizing their child’s sex assigned at birth.

That bill now heads to the desk of Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican.

In a statement on Thursday, state Sen. Nathan Dahm (R), who co-authored the bill, celebrated the legislation’s passage, but added that it came too late to “protect” cisgender female athletes like the collegiate swimmer Emma Weyant, who placed second last week in the NCAA women’s 500-yard freestyle finals after Lia Thomas, who is a transgender woman.


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“The right time to protect our sisters, daughters, and granddaughters in their sports was last year, as soon as the bill was eligible for a vote. Unfortunately, it had to wait nearly a year to get passed and sent to the governor’s desk,” Dahm said.

“While we celebrate the passage of the Save Women’s Sports Act, we should also recognize the victory of Emma Weyant as the fastest female swimmer in the NCAA and the true winner of the women’s Division 1 500-yard freestyle race last week,” Dahm said. “To commemorate her achievement and help right the NCAA’s wrong decision to allow a biological male to compete in the race, I’ve filed Senate Resolution 32 to recognize and congratulate her as the true winner of the competition.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) took a similar position earlier this week, officially declaring Weyant, who is a native of Sarasota, the “rightful” winner of the NCAA title.

“It’s sad we even have to pass legislation designating that there is a difference between males and females, and that men have an advantage when competing against women,” state Sen. Julie Daniels (R), who co-authored the Oklahoma bill, said in a statement which deadnames Thomas. “But I’m here to support our women and the future of women’s sports.”

Senators in Oklahoma on Thursday also approved two other bills targeting the state’s transgender and nonbinary residents. One of the bills would outlaw the use of an “X” or “any other symbol to represent a nonbinary designation” on state-issued birth certificates. 

“This measure is a direct response to our state’s health department adding nonbinary as an option on birth certificates,” state. Sen. Micheal Bergstrom (R), who authored the measure, said Thursday. “Like the vast majority of Oklahomans, I found this move to be a slap in the face of science. How has our society sunk so low that it is seriously an argument if someone is a boy or a girl? Biological sex is very clear, and our vital state records must reflect this.”

The other bill advanced by the Senate would expand the definition of obscene materials to target the LGBTQ+ community. Both pieces of legislation now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

In a statement, Sam Ames, director for advocacy and government affairs at The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ+ youth suicide prevention and crisis intervention group, said all three of the bills offer “solutions to problems that simply do not exist in Oklahoma,” echoing an argument often made by those who oppose legislation targeting the LGBTQ+ community.

“While their subjects were different, their target was the same: transgender and nonbinary youth,” Ames said, and called on Stitt to follow the actions of Gov. Spencer Cox (R) of Utah and Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) of Indiana in vetoing the anti-trans sports ban that now heads to his desk.


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