NewsLocal News


Transgender Oklahoman speaks on birth certificate lawsuit victory

Transgender adults more satisfied after transitioning
Posted at 3:12 PM, Jun 24, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — A recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit is a win for the transgender community.

The court decided its unconstitutional for Oklahoma to ban changing birth certificates to match a person’s gender identity.

Rowan Fowler, a transgender woman, filed the suit along with Allister Hall and Carter Ray, transgender men. Speaking to 2 News via Zoom, Fowler said she's ecstatic with the ruling.

“It definitely made me feel a lot better; made me feel seen,” said Fowler.

READ MORE about the ruling.

Two other states have similar bans. Oklahoma allowed changing birth certificates for roughly 14 years until Governor Kevin Stitt’s Executive Order in 2021.

That's the same year Fowler began transitioning and said immediately simple things like showing I.D. to see a band perform got awkward.

“They flat-out refused to let me in,” she said. “They said it was because it didn’t look like me; that couldn’t have been me.”

Other things, like getting a TSA pre-check, became lengthy and uncomfortable.

“Questions that, quite honestly, everybody else would find invasive but for trans people has become the norm,” she explained.

“A large portion of my credit report still says my dead name because they won’t change it without an update to my birth certificate,” she added.

The case now goes back to the lower courts.

“There is hope for the future in getting some affirmation,” said Fowler.
Governor Stitt is one of the defendants, along with Keith Reed, Interim Commissioner of Health for the Oklahoma State Department of Health and Kelly Baker, State Registrar of Vital Records.

In a statement, Governor Stitt said, “I’m always going to protect Oklahoma values and our way of life. My executive order from 2021 made it clear that Oklahoma birth certificates will align with science and Oklahoma law, not a social agenda. Oklahoma will continue that fight as it continues to work through the courts.”

One of Fowler’s attorneys, Peter Renn, believes it will be tough for the defendants because the ruling left few options.

“The court said, ‘this is discrimination against transgender people, and there is not even a rational reason that we can imagine for why you did this,” said Renn.

Renn is referencing the court document explaining the ruling. The court explained that the Constitution requires “some rational connection between the policy and a legitimate interest. There is no rational connection here.”

In the meantime, Fowler has since moved from Tulsa to California, citing her struggles with mental health.

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond’s office said they're disappointed in the ruling and are reviewing any possible next steps.

Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere --