A bill which would have made changing the gender markers on birth certificates issued in New Jersey an easier process was vetoed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on January 14, after having passed the state legislature.
The current process for amending birth certificates in New Jersey requires that transgender people undergo gender confirmation surgery before being eligible to change the gender marker on official documents.
The surgery, which is prohibitively expensive, is not covered by most health insurance providers, as they deem gender confirmation a “cosmetic” procedure.
Additionally, many transgender people chose not to have the surgery in order to retain reproductive abilities, avoid surgery complications, or they simply do not wish to have the procedure.
In all, only about 30% of transgender people undergo gender confirmation surgery, which leaves the other 70% of the community unable to obtain a properly marked birth certificate in the state of New Jersey.
Assembly Bill 4097, which was passed by the state legislature, would have made the process more accessible to the transgender community by removing the surgery requirement. Changing the gender marker on a driver’s license already requires only a doctor’s note affirming the individual’s gender identity.
Citing the possibility of fraud or abuse of the privilege, Governor Christie vetoed the bill on Monday, January 14, causing an uproar in the transgender activist community, many of whom called his veto a petty and mean-spirited move.
“It was very vindictive,” Garden State Equality’s executive director, Troy Stevenson, said to Gay Star News. “A person’s gender identity is about who they are, not what their body looks like. This bill would have brought New Jersey in line with federal regulations. Now you will have birth certificates that don’t match driver’s licenses and passports. In many cases people are being called out on fraud because their documents don’t match.”
Like other outspoken conservative politicians, the reason Christie gave for denying personal rights to the transgender community was a projected fear of system abuse.
“Proposed measures that revise the standards for the issuance of amended birth certificates may result in significant legal uncertainties and create opportunities for fraud,” said Christie in his veto statement.
Apparently, granting the transgender citizens of New Jersey the right to proper documentation is just too dangerous.