Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Timothy Eustace, Nancy Pinkin and Mila Jasey to strengthen civil rights for transgender individuals in New Jersey cleared the Assembly Human Services Committee on Monday.
“Now more than ever, we need to stand up for those who are being marginalized,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Antiquated policies and attitudes towards transgender individuals have led to discrimination, violence, depression and suicide. While tremendous strides have been made in recent years to advance equality for members of the ‘LGB’ community much more still needs to be done to help protect our brothers and sisters in the ‘T’ community.”
The reversal of the Boy Scouts’ century-old policy was inspired largely by the case of a transgender North Jersey boy whom Vainieri Huttle had stood up for, recently introducing a measure urging the Boy Scouts to create a more inclusive membership policy.
Vainieri Huttle said these bills will help solidify New Jersey’s position as a leader on transgender civil rights by, among other things, establishing a task force to help advance equality for transgender residents, improving insurance coverage and making sure public records correctly reflect an individual’s gender identity.
The committee approved the following bills:
? A-1727 – Establishes the Transgender Equality Task Force to assess legal and societal barriers to equality and provide recommendations to the Legislature. The 17-member task force would look at the following areas: healthcare, long term care for the chronically ill and senior citizen transgender population, higher education, housing, including homelessness, employment, and criminal justice.
? A-1726 – Stipulates that the sex of a decedent is to be recorded on a death certificates to reflect the decedent’s gender identity as reported by next of kin or best qualified person available, unless the person completing the death certificate is presented with a document that memorializes the decedent’s gender transition. The bill also provides a legal process to address conflicting information regarding the gender of the decedent and codifies existing regulations regarding current information included on a death certificate.
“Transgender individuals face considerable challenges in society, more than most of us can even imagine,” said Eustace (D-Bergen, Passaic). “In order to address these challenges legislatively or otherwise, we must have a comprehensive review of the current policies and procedures that are impacting the lives of transgender residents and their families.”
“With these bills we can strengthen the law to ensure protection of our transgender residents and their livelihoods,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “Discrimination, harassment, decreased educational and employment opportunities, as well as barriers to clinically-appropriate healthcare and social services will continue to harm them unless we take a stand.”
“All residents deserve the same protections and opportunities regardless of their gender identity,” said Jasey (D-Essex, Morris). “To better understand the challenges transgender residents are facing, we must engage people from its community and explore how we can best support them in their daily lives.”
The Human Rights Campaign reported that in 2015 there were at least 21 murders of transgender persons in the United States, more than any previous year on record, with a disproportionate number of these victims being transgender women of color.
The bills will now be considered for a vote by the full Assembly.