In an environment of uncertainty for transgender individuals, New Jersey is on the forefront of creating laws which are aimed to support New Jersey’s transgender community. In July of 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed a package of bills into law which make important changes to records of vital statistics which are effective February 1, 2019.
These laws now establish New Jersey as one of only 17 states that allow residents to change their gender on birth certificates and death records in order to conform to their gender identity without submission of proof of surgery. New Jersey is also one of only 4 states that now include a gender-neutral option on birth certificates.
NJ A1718: Babs Siperstein Law
A1718, designated as the “Babs Siperstein Law,” requires the state Registrar of Vital Statistics to issue an amended birth certificate, upon submission of request, to a person born in the state which bears the transgender person’s name and sex. This law was named after Babs Siperstein, who was the first elected transgender member of the Democratic National Committee in 2012.
Prior to this, an amended certificate of birth was only issued upon the receipt of a medical certificate from the applicant’s physician, indicating the person’s gender had been changed through sexual reassignment surgery.
Now, a transgender person will only need to complete and submit a form which affirms under penalty of perjury that the request for change in gender, including female, male, or undesignated/non-binary, is made for the purpose of conforming with that individual’s gender identity and not for any fraudulent purpose. This change represents perhaps one of the most significant changes in the law as it recognizes that gender identity is personal, not anatomical.
In addition to this, two other bills were signed into law.
A1726 allows the person planning the funeral of a transgender person to request the death certificate reflect the person’s identity. Documentation of a gender transition can include, but is not limited to, “the decedent’s written instructions, including in an advance health care directive; a court order approving a name or gender change; proof of clinical treatment for gender transition; or the gender marker on a birth certificate, or a state- or federally issued identification card.”
The third law is A1727, which establishes a transgender equality task force “to assess legal and societal barriers to equality” and recommend future laws to prevent discrimination moving forward. Noted areas of concern include housing, healthcare, education, employment, and criminal justice.
Kudos to the New Jersey Legislature and Governor Murphy for moving the Garden State forward.