TLDEF Criticizes New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for Vetoing Birth Certificate Legislation and Disrespecting Transgender People

New Jersey sealAugust 17, 2015 - TLDEF strongly criticizes New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for his recent veto of a bill to eliminate the requirement that transgender people undergo surgery in order to correct the gender markers on their birth certificates. The bill would have instead required a doctor to certify that a transgender person “has undergone clinically appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition, based on contemporary medical standards….”

Days after vetoing the legislation, which he also vetoed last year, Christie laughed about his decision after making these comments on the Michael Medved Show radio program:

"(The bill was) for people who do not have a sex change operation.... I have to tell you the truth, Michael, you know, there's certain things that just go beyond the pale. It doesn't make any sense to me and that's why I vetoed it again, and if they send it to me again I will veto it again."

Medved responded, "Sounds dangerously conservative," to which Christie could be heard chuckling.

Statement from TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman

“Governor Christie demonstrates a complete lack of understanding and respect for transgender people, who often need updated birth certificates just to participate in society, free from the harassment and bias that results when their IDs do not match who they truly are.

“A birth certificate is a fundamental form of identification, often used to do essential things like proving eligibility to work. Without an updated birth certificate, transgender people regularly face discrimination. New Jersey’s outdated law requires surgical procedures that most transgender people have not undergone, either because of discriminatory health insurance exclusions that make such procedures unaffordable, or because such procedures are medically inappropriate. Governor Christie could have shown leadership by signing the bill to end birth certificate discrimination against transgender people. Instead he showed ignorance about the need for this law and disdain for the marginalized and vulnerable transgender people it would help.

“TLDEF knows first hand, through our decade of advocacy, including a first-of-its-kind lawsuit that helped overturn New York City’s former birth certificate policy, that transgender people’s lives improve when their birth certificates are corrected to match who they are.

“Nine states, Washington D.C. and New York City have removed unnecessary and burdensome surgical requirements for transgender people seeking to correct their birth certificates. Last year, the American Medical Association adopted a policy in support of allowing transgender people to update their birth certificates once they have undergone medically appropriate care, which may not include surgery. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health has also long supported this approach.

“It is time for Chris Christie to stop targeting transgender people. New Jersey should update its birth certificate policy and bring an end to discrimination against transgender people once and for all.”