West Virginia Governor Receives Bill Banning ‘Non-Binary’ From Birth Certificates

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Though the state doesn’t allow non-binary as an option on birth certificates, the bill’s Republican sponsor argued that he wants legislation to ensure it never becomes an option in the future. The governor, Jim Justice, now has to decide whether to sign the bill.

The bill


The legislation, sponsored by Republican Delegate Chris Pratt, would formally prohibit birth certificates from offering a non-binary gender marker. 

Reinforcing the status quo


Non-binary is not currently offered as an option on birth certificates in West Virginia.

Widespread practice


Over a dozen states across the US allow individuals to select an option outside of ‘male’ or ‘female’ on their birth certificate. 

Worldwide recognition


Countries around the world, including Argentina, Mexico, Canada, New Zealand, India, and Denmark, also have a non-binary or third gender option available for people to choose if they desire.

Allowing for freedom


The Open Society Foundations’ report concludes that from a rights-based viewpoint, third gender options should be made available on a voluntary basis, offering transgender individuals an alternative way to define their gender identity. It further states that individuals identifying with a third gender should be entitled to the same rights as those identifying as male or female.

Restricting freedom


Nevertheless, efforts to ban the practice have been spreading around the US. In 2022, Oklahoma became the first state to formally prohibit having non-binary as an option on birth certificates.

State vs federal


The year prior, the US government issued a passport with an additional “X” gender designation for the very first time.

Formal ban


While West Virginia does not offer non-binary as an option, Pritt said he sponsored the bill to ensure that such an option would never be made available.

Uncertain ruling

Illustration. Image credit: Shutterstock

While Governor Jim Justice has not spoken in public about the bill, he has signed multiple anti-transgender bills into law. One restricted gender-affirming care for people under the age of 18. Another restricted the participation of transfender children in sports.

Increasing trend


The number of anti-trans bills introduced in the US has increased every year since 2019. From 2021, each year saw a record-breaking number of anti-trans bills introduced.

Dangerous movement


In 2024 so far, over 500 anti-trans bills have been introduced in 41 states. West Virginia has introduced 30 bills, the fifth most of any state. Oklahoma, the state that has introduced the most bills this year, has introduced 60.

Every aspect of life


Trans Legislation Tracker reports on its website that there has been a significant increase in the number of bills aimed at restricting access to essential healthcare, legal recognition, education, bathrooms, athletics, and the right to openly exist in public schools.



Fairness West Virginia, the only major LGBTQ+ advocacy group in West Virginia, has denounced Pritt’s bill as discriminatory.

Ongoing crusade


In January, The 19th reported that various states nationwide are implementing new measures aimed at preventing transgender adults and minors from obtaining legal recognition in public life. LGBTQ+ advocates interpret these bills, which seek to redefine gender identity, as a clear sign of the ultimate objective of anti-transgender legislation: to significantly hinder the ability of transgender individuals to safely engage in public activities.

Attacks on a national scale


Many of the anti-trans bills have been supported by what Axios called a “multimillion-dollar effort” led by conservative organizations like the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council. 

Restricted future


The CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute stated that there is a desire to maintain a vision of America that is predominantly white and Christian. To protect this vision, various anti-democratic measures are being willingly embraced.

Kate Smith, a self-proclaimed word nerd who relishes the power of language to inform, entertain, and inspire. Kate's passion for sharing knowledge and sparking meaningful conversations fuels her every word.