New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Monday vetoed a bill passed by strong majorities in the New Jersey House and Senate that would allow transgender people to update the gender marker on their birth certificates to match their lived gender. Christie’s veto leaves in place a requirement that transgender New Jerseyans must undergo surgical procedures to obtain an accurate birth certificate.
“There is simply no justification for requiring transgender or intersex individuals to undergo unnecessary and often unavailable procedures in order to amend their birth certificates,” said Dru Levasseur, Lambda Legal Transgender Rights Project Director. “New Jersey’s onerous surgery requirement is out-of-step with contemporary standards for transgender health care and imposes a hurdle that many cannot and should not have to meet simply to have identity documents that reflect who they are.”
In testimony delivered before the New Jersey Legislature on December 12, 2013, in support of the bill, Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Jael Humphrey stated: “Birth certificates are the most basic proof of who we are. Our identification documents are a gateway to employment, education and housing. They affect our ability to adopt or retain custody of our children, to secure a loan or to prove to our employers that we are authorized to work. When the gender marker differs from lived gender on identity documents, or the documents themselves are inconsistent, transgender and intersex people are robbed of their privacy and are more vulnerable to harassment, groundless accusations of fraud, discrimination and even violence.”
New Jersey declined to join a growing list of states and federal entities which have modernized their policies for changing gender markers on identification documents, including the U.S. Department of State and the Social Security Administration. The bill, S2786, would have mandated a new birth record for people who have undergone “clinically appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition, based on contemporary medical standards.” Sponsored by New Jersey State Sen. Joseph Vitale, the bill passed the Senate in late December by a vote of 21-11. The New Jersey State Assembly approved the bill in June by a vote of 43-27.