Oklahoma's first nonbinary state representative, 29-year-old Mauree Turner, dissed the governor for his "there is no such thing as non-binary sex" remark. Turner further added that Republican Governor Kevin Stitt's comments are damaging to both the LGBTQ community and the working relationship between lawmakers. Stitt 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. "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."
State Representative Mauree Turner, a Democrat, whose pronouns are they/them, spoke about Governor Stitt's comments in an interview with KOKH-TV, a local television news station. "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 beingâyou don't see me. That damages anyone's working relationship," they said. "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 added. Turner told the Tv station 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 said.
Who is Mauree Turner?
Elected in 2020, Mauree Turner was the nation's first nonbinary state lawmaker. Their election campaign was focused on criminal justice reform. They are also the first Muslim member of the Oklahoma Legislature. Turner had previously served as a board member of the Council on AmericanâIslamic Relations and led criminal justice reform initiatives with the American Civil Liberties Union.
Turner took to Twitter and lashed out at Governor Stitt for his statements. "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. "It's saddening to see a few men pour this, deeply misguided and very dangerous rhetoric, into an entire state. "You won't legislate away the 2SLGBTQ+ community, all you'll do is create a world in which we don't want to live, " they added.
This is not the first time Governor Kevin Stitt faced criticism from LGBTQ+ advocates
Governor Kevin Stitt made the comment 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.
Governor Stitt earlier faced criticism from LGBTQ+ advocates over legislation they termed '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 reportedly called it redundant and raised concerns that it would revive old stereotypes.