Last week, New Jersey lawmakers passed two bills—S.478 and S.493—to ensure that residents’ birth and death certificates accurately reflect their gender identity. Both bills now head to Governor Phil Murphy for his approval.

S.478 modernizes the process for updating the gender marker on a person’s birth certificate by removing the current unnecessary and expensive requirement of gender-affirmation surgery. Instead, S.478 would allow a resident to obtain a corrected birth certificate by submitting a form affirming under penalty of perjury that the update is needed in order to accurately reflect their gender identity. Under the bill, residents will also be able to have the gender on their birth certificate reflected as undesignated or non-binary.

Unnecessary and invasive obstacles to updating one’s birth certificate gender marker can prevent many transgender and gender non-conforming people from obtaining identification that accurately reflects who they are. Research shows that transgender and gender non-conforming people with incongruent identity documents frequently experience violence and discrimination. The 2015 U.S Transgender Survey found that nearly one-third of transgender people with incongruent documents were verbally harassed, denied benefits or service, asked to leave, or assaulted. Bills like S.B. 478 are vital to protecting the dignity and safety of transgender individuals.

Additionally, S.493 requires the sex designation on a decedent’s death certificate to accurately reflect their gender identity. It also creates a process for determining the gender identity of a decedent for purposes of their death certificate if conflicting information exists.

HRC’s 2017 State Equality Index (SEI) classifies New Jersey under the category of “Solidifying Equality.” The state currently has LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination laws covering employment, housing, public accommodations and education.

More information on the SEI can be found here.

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