New transgender rights bills advance support for gender identity

One allows people to easily change gender on birth certificates

Cherri Gregg
May 28, 2018 - 2:17 pm



NEW JERSEY (KYW Newsradio) — New Jersey could soon enact some of the most progressive transgender laws in the country. 

The bills, which impact how gender identity appears on certain records, are expected to be signed by Gov. Phil Murphy. 

The first bill establishes a transgender task force in New Jersey; the second requires death certificates to reflect the decedent's gender identity; and the third, referred to as the Babs Siperstein Law, makes it easier for transgender people to amend their gender identity on their birth certificates.

"This will help educate people," said Babs Siperstein about her namesake bill. 

During her gender reassignment surgery in Canada a few years ago, Siperstein had a major complication and could have died. She said part of the reason she got the surgery was so that she could change her gender identity on her birth certificate from male to female.

"You had to get the surgery to get the documentation changed," she explained. "Where else in this country if you want to be yourself are you forced to have such intrusive surgery? This is not like having your tooth pulled."

Siperstein was the first transgender person to become a delegate in the Democratic National Convention. Lawmakers honored her for her advocacy when the bill passed last week.

Under the new law, people can change the gender identity listed on their birth certificates by simply signing an affirmation under the penalty of perjury.

In addition, the law allows three options for gender: male, female and undesignated/ non-binary. Previous records are then sealed once the change is complete.

A longtime business owner, Siperstein said she used a very bipartisan approach to gain support for SB 478, which was vetoed twice by former Gov. Chris Christie.  

But with a Democrat at the helm, it is expected to pass.

"I can't possibly describe the feeling," Siperstein enthused.