Post submitted by former HRC Communications Campaign Director Brandon Lorenz
For the second time in two years, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has shamefully vetoed a bill that would have made easier for transgender residents to obtain an appropriate birth certificate reflecting their identity. The bill Christie vetoed (S1195) would have allowed state agencies to change a birth certificate as long as proof was provided that the individual was undergoing gender transition. Currently, transgender New Jerseyans can only obtain an updated birth certificate if they have undergone gender reassignment surgery, which is not always necessary or safe, and can be cost-prohibitive for low-income people.
“Birth certificates are a basic form of identification that speak to our core identity and common humanity, and it is appalling that Chris Christie has again vetoed a bill that would have made it easier for transgender people to obtain birth certificates that reflect who they are,” said Alison Gill, HRC Senior Legislative Counsel. “This bill would have ensured that transgender people born in New Jersey are able to change their birth certificates to reflect their correct name and gender without unnecessarily expensive and invasive obstacles. Inaccuracies present myriad challenges for transgender people in their daily lives, creating barriers to things as fundamentally important as applying for a job or voting. Chris Christie's shameful decision puts the well-being of transgender New Jerseyans at risk for no good reason.”
Governor Christie first vetoed legislation to allow transgender people to correct their birth certificates last year. In issuing his veto yesterday, Christie said the "potential to create legal uncertainties" outweighed the benefits of the bill for transgender New Jerseyans. This year states including Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Maryland have updated their laws to remove these barriers for transgender people. Nationally, only 1 in 5 transgender people (21%) have been able to update all their identification documents and records, including birth certificates, to reflect their appropriate name and gender.
In June, Governor Christie vetoed the New Jersey Gestational Carrier Act, bipartisan legislation that would have modernized New Jersey law to give legal parental rights of a child carried by a gestational surrogate to the intended parent. Gestational surrogacy is especially important to members of the LGBT community because it enables couples to establish parental rights and create a family while allowing such couples to have a genetic relation to their children.