New Jersey poised to pass choose-your-own birth certificate law

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Proposed legislation winding its way through the New Jersey state legislature will, if passed, require health department officials to provide new birth certificates to people who decide they want to change genders, regardless of whether they’ve actually undergone any kind of gender reassignment surgery.

Last week, the Garden State’s Senate committee on health and human services approved Senate Bill 2786 by a vote of 6-2 (with one abstention).

The General Assembly already voted 43-27 in favor of the bill back in June.

Essentially, explains The Advocate, the prospective law allows people who receive hormone replacement treatment to get a brand-new birth certificate reflecting a gender they totally didn’t have when they were actually born.

The person seeking the new birth certificate would only need to submit an affidavit signed by a medical provider verifying the hormone treatment.

The new law would provide relief to transgender individuals who want official proof of the gender they desire but either can’t afford or don’t want to undergo the very expensive, very invasive major surgery necessary for gender reassignment.

Current New Jersey law requires the state health department to issue new birth certificates only to individuals who have undergone such surgeries.

Democrat Joseph Vitale, the bill’s sponsor in the state Senate, told The Star-Ledger that he sponsored the bill because “the world is changing.”

“Birth certificates always have been a means of how we traditionally identify a person,” Vitale told the Newark-based paper. “In the transgender community, it doesn’t reflect who they are mentally spiritually and in every other way but physically.”

The ACLU of New Jersey also supports the bill.

ACLU representative Jeanne LoCicero claimed that transgender individuals often face “severe and latent discrimination” and “the risk of violence.”

While LoCicero did not elaborate on how having a new birth certificate would mitigate the risk of violence, she did note that transgender individuals sometimes obtain passports showing their gender preference because the State Department’s lax requirements don’t require proof of surgery.

Republican state Senator Sam Thompson told The Star-Ledger that he opposes the bill.

“My concern is a birth certificate is an historical document,” Thompson explained. “If you want a document saying you are a lady today, I am 100 percent for it.”

The full state Senate must pass the bill before it can become law. Then, Republican Gov. Chris Christie must sign it.

Christie has not indicated whether he will sign or veto the bill should it reach his desk.

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