In an effort to bring “clarity, certainty, and uniformity” to state laws, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) has signed into law an executive order that precisely defines the terms “female” and “mother.”
This legislation was introduced by state Sen. Jessica Garvin (R), who asserted it would shield women from men infringing on their single-sex spaces. Garvin cited examples where incarcerated men identifying as female had reportedly sexually abused women in the same facilities.
Specifically, the law restricts biological men from claiming government grants designed for women and bars them from using women’s restrooms, prisons, rape shelters, locker rooms, and similar spaces. The term “mother” is legally defined as “the female parent of a child or children” while the term “woman” is denoted as “a natural person who is female.”
The law also directs state bodies including school districts that collect vital statistics to identify any natural person as either male or female according to the definitions outlined in Section 62 of Title 25 of the Oklahoma Statutes.
The Oklahoma law follows the introduction of the Women’s Bill of Rights by Republican Senator Cyndi Hyde-Smith of Mississippi in February 2023, which delineates the same terms in a similar fashion after a prior resolution failed in 2022.
Hyde-Smith spoke out against what she termed “radical notions” of redefining male and female, declaring, “Our resolution simply affirms the biological differences between males and females under federal law, ensuring that womanhood is not erased by the ‘woke’ left’s reckless attempts to be inclusive.” This law embodies a broader trend towards explicitly defining sex and gender in legal terms, which proponents argue helps to safeguard single-sex spaces, but has been met with controversy and criticism from opponents who see it as exclusionary and discriminatory.