Newly elected New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) signed three bills into law on Tuesday, all of which aim to expand and protect the rights of transgender residents in the state, reports the Huffington Post.
The first and second bills allow transgender residents to change the sex or gender marker on their birth and death certificates to reflect their gender identity, permitting them to legally identify themselves as female, male, or undesignated. While trans people were permitted to change their gender marker previously, they were required to undergo gender confirmation surgery first. Now, trans residents do not have to wait until they can either afford or be approved for surgery if they even desire it in the first place.
The third bill calls for the establishment of a Transgender Equality Task Force, which, according to the bill, “is charged with assessing the legal and societal barriers to equality for transgender individuals in the state, and providing recommendations to the legislature and the governor on how to ensure equality and improve the lives of transgender individuals, with particular attention to the following areas: healthcare, long-term care, education, higher education, housing, employment, and criminal justice.” The task force will consist of approximately 17 members, each of whom will be representatives of various governmental departments, including the Departments of Banking and Insurance, Human Services, Health, and Education, among others.
Upon signing these new bills, Murphy remarked that they will help “ensure that all residents receive the protections they deserve.”
Aaron Potenza, the director of programs for the New Jersey LGBTQ rights organization, Garden State Equality, commented on Murphy’s latest measures, saying, “New Jersey has finally removed the outdated, invasive and overly burdensome proof-of-surgery requirement. Furthermore, we have created a path for people who identify outside the binary to access accurate documents.” Garden State Equality also noted that New Jersey is now one of 17 states that have dropped gender confirmation surgery as a prerequisite to amending one’s gender identity on their birth certificate. Murphy’s predecessor, Chris Christie, previously vetoed the bill two different times, claiming that such a law could lead to fraud or uncertainty. Governor Murphy, on the other hand, views the signing of these three bills as a victory, adding that they are pivotal to New Jersey’s endeavor to “continue to strive for equality for all of our residents, regardless of sex or gender expression.”