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Transgender boy takes Oklahoma officials to court in fight for gender identity

OK State Superintendent Ryan Walters
Ryan Walters Site

OK State Superintendent Ryan Walters

Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters says he won’t play the “transgender game.” J. Doe just wants to be himself.

A trans boy in Oklahoma is taking the state’s conservative leaders to court in the fight to have his official school records reflect his gender identity.

Identified only as J. Doe, he told NBC News all he wants is the ability to grow in his true gender identity, but politicians like Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters and officials at the state's Board of Education are deliberately trying to block the change.

“It’s hard enough to get supportive parents; once you achieve that, you are lucky enough,” J. Doe told NBC News. “It shouldn’t be a challenge with the government too.”

J. Doe received a court order granting a name and gender marker change in early 2023. Due to privacy concerns, he also received a waiver that exempted him from the normal public notice requirements.

According to the official complaint, however, when J. Doe presented the court order to his school, Moore Public Schools alerted Walters and the Board of Education. In an emergency session, the board passed an emergency order that prevented schools from changing a student’s gender designation in a prior year without approval from the board.

The emergency order also required schools to “promptly” notify the board of “any pending litigation or court order related to altering sex or gender designations in school records within their district.”

In October, the board denied J. Doe’s request to change his gender identity marker as well as the request of another student, and Walters left little doubt about the intent of the board in its actions.

“We’re going to stand against this,” Walters, who also chairs the board, said in October. “We’re not going to do the transgender game of back and forth, back and forth.”

The suit, filed in December in Cleveland County, Okla., District Court, charges that the board discriminated against Doe by denying his request and violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection of the laws. It also alleges that following the October vote, the board’s general counsel, Bryan Cleveland, “recklessly and maliciously” revealed the names of J. Doe and the other student to the media.

J. Doe is now fearful he will be forced to reveal even more personal information wherever he goes.

“If the world was safer towards trans people, it would probably be a different story of who I was comfortable with knowing that I was trans,” J. Doe told NBC News, “but really I just don’t know what could happen with people knowing that.”

Pictured: Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters

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