Historic Transgender Rights Bills Expand Equality in NJ
Updated: Jul 2, 2019
Under new laws enacted July 3, 2018 by Gov. Phil Murphy, the estimated 30,100 transgender people living in New Jersey will now have the legal right to alter the sex recorded on their birth and death certificates.
The Birth Certificate Bill, now known as the “Babs Siperstein Law,” requires the state Registrar of Vital Statistics to issue an amended birth certificate to a person born in the state that bears the transgender person’s name and sex. The law was named after Siperstein, a resident of Edison and a prominent transgender rights advocate who was the first elected transgender member of the Democratic National Committee.
Siperstein is a longtime friend of Leslie Farber, who was involved in drafting and advancing earlier versions of this bill. Former Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the proposed legislation twice during his administration, citing concerns over fraud and abuse.
Under current law, the State registrar will issue an amended birth certificate only upon receipt of a medical certificate from the person’s physician indicating that the person’s gender has been changed through surgical procedure. The new legislation eliminates this requirement and acknowledges nonsurgical options for transitioning, which can include physical, psychological, social and emotional changes.
An individual only needs to submit a form affirming under penalty of perjury that the request for a change in gender is to conform to that person’s gender identity and is not for any fraudulent purpose. The bill also allows individuals who don’t identify as male or female to identify their gender as “non-binary.” A second bill allows a person’s changed gender identity to be reflected on death certificates.
Allowing vital records to match gender identity is an important step towards giving transgender individuals control over the disclosure of their gender status. New Jersey is the 17th state that allows transgender residents to change their gender on birth records without proof of surgery, and one of only a few states to permit a person to declare their gender as neither male nor female, but as “gender non-binary.”
Gov. Murphy also announced the creation of the Transgender Equality Task Force. The 17-member body, comprised of government officials, community leaders and experts in law, policy and medicine, will work together to assess issues and barriers for transgender individuals, particularly in the areas of healthcare, education, housing and criminal justice.
Years in the making, the new legislation will have a significant impact on the transgender and “gender non-binary” communities. Establishing the Transgender Equality Task Force will help ensure that all New Jersey residents have the rights and protections they deserve. If you have concerns or questions about how these changes will impact you or a loved one, please contact us at 973-509-8500 x213 or LFarber@LFarberLaw.com.
The contents of this writing are intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion in any specific facts or circumstances.