New Jersey joins 17 other states in Transgender recognition
Governor Phil Murphy signed a law that will allow transgender citizens of New Jersey to alter their sex on their birth and death certificates. The law was named for Babs Siperstein, the first elected transgender member of the Democratic National Committee.
The new law lifts the requirement that a transgender person had to submit medical proof of gender reassignment surgery before being allowed to change their gender on their birth certificate. It requires the State Registrar of Vital Statistics to issue an amended birth certificate with the transgender person’s name and sex. Former Republican Governor Chris Christie twice vetoed the law, citing concerns of fraud.
The Garden State becomes the 17th state to allow transgender citizens to change their gender on death records without proof of surgery. It is also the fourth state, along with California, Oregon, and Washington, that has transgender as an option on birth certificates. Other parts of the law will permit the person planning the funeral for a transgender person to request the gender reflect that person’s identity. It also establishes a transgender equality task force to “assess legal and societal barriers to equality” and recommends future laws to prevent discrimination. It will allow government officials, experts in law, policy, and medicine as well as community leaders and advocates to work together and address issues that impact transgender people.
An estimated 30,100 transgender citizens live in New Jersey. Nationwide, there is an estimated 1.4 million, according to a report done in 2016 by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law.
“Allowing vital records to match gender identity is an important step”
“Today is an important day for New Jersey as we continue to strive toward equality for all of our residents, regardless of sex or gender expression,” Murphy said in a statement. “Allowing vital records to match gender identity is an important step forward that will allow transgender individuals to control the disclosure of their transgender status. And by creating a Transgender Equality Task Force, New Jersey can ensure that all residents receive the protections they deserve,” Murphy added. “New Jersey will continue to stand with our LGBTQ residents in the continued pursuit of similar rights nationwide.”
The bill was co-sponsored by Senator Joseph Vitale and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, with Garden State Equality’s Director of Programs Aaron Potenza assisting with the drafting of the bill.
“Now more than ever, we need to stand up for those who are being marginalized,” Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle said during the Assembly voting session in May that advanced the bill to Murphy. “Antiquated policies and attitudes towards transgender individuals have led to discrimination, violence, depression and suicide. While tremendous strides have been made in recent years to advance equality for members of the ‘LGB’ community much more still needs to be done to help protect our brothers and sisters in the ‘T’ community.”