Garden State Equality has received national renown for being a model statewide organization committed to transgender equality and inclusion. From the moment of our founding in 2004, Garden State Equality has put the transgender community at the very center of our mission, and we have never let up. Transgender New Jerseyans serve on our Board of Directors and throughout our organization on a daily basis, working front and center on every public policy issue Garden State Equality works on. Our non-transgender members are equally passionate about transgender equality.
Our commitment has paid off: New Jersey’s transgender equality laws passed by margins that are a beacon unto America. In 2006, our transgender anti-discrimination law passed by a combined legislative margin of 102 to 8. In 2008, our transgender anti-hate crimes law passed both houses by 100 to 10. And in 2010, our transgender inclusive anti-bullying law passed both houses 103 to 1. Partnering with Garden State Equality on all three landmark laws was the state’s transgender civil rights organization, the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey (GRAANJ).
Garden State Equality stuck to its values in spearheading these laws, which are sweeping. They enumerate gender identity and gender expression, and encompass public accommodations, employment, housing, credit and business contracts. We are proud to live in a state where the previous governor, a Democrat, and the current governor, a Republican, signed our transgender-inclusive laws.
All it all up, and the chances are overwhelming that if you have faced discrimination in any place or in any way in New Jersey because of your gender identity or gender expression, that discrimination is illegal. So if you believe you have faced discrimination because you are transgender, please complete the Report Discrimination page on this website, or call Garden State Equality at (973) GSE-LGBT. We will help you eagerly and warmly. All information will be kept confidential.
In addition to our transgender-inclusive statutes, in 2009 the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission adopted a policy in which the gender noted on state driver licenses is now be in accordance with the driver’s gender identity or expression– reflecting the gender that drivers consider themselves to be, without requiring surgery. Given that one’s driver license is a primary identification document all across society, this has had a vastly beneficial impact for transgender New Jerseyans.
Central to Garden State Equality’s commitment to increasing public awareness of the challenges faced by the transgender community has been our media campaign. In 2005, just a year after our founding, Garden State Equality ran the first television commercial in American history on transgender civil rights. The commercial aired as part of Garden State Equality’s campaign to enact the statewide transgender anti-discrimination law.
To be sure, New Jersey is far ahead of the federal government in providing legal protections for the transgender community. Outrageously, the U.S. Congress has still not passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that would bar workplace discrimination in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and be of particular help to our sisters and brothers who don’t live in states such as New Jersey that already ban such discrimination.
Garden State Equality led the way nationally in opposing a previous version of ENDA that excluded the transgender community. Thankfully, the version now before Congress would outlaw discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity – an inclusive ENDA that Garden State Equality is proud to support.
On the other hand, there is a federal hate crimes law. In 2009, President Obama signed The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a law that expands the federal hate crimes law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
National transgender rights organizations include the Transgender Civil Rights Project of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which has produced an exceptional web page on transgender rights, and the National Center for Transgender Equality.
TRANSGENDER SUPPORT GROUPS IN NEW JERSEY
In Highland Park in Central Jersey, TrueSelves is a transgender peer-based support group focusing on all aspects of the transgender spectrum from gender issues to understanding yourself and your community. TrueSelves meets every third Sunday from 4:00 pm to 6:00pm at The Pride Center at 321 Raritan Avenue, Highland Park. For more information, email Eli firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Jersey City in North Jersey, the Pride Connections Center runs several programs for the transgender community. They include GLITZ, Girls Living In the Trans Zone, which meets every Tuesday from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm; and BLITZ, Boys Living in the Trans Zone, which meets on the first and third Wednesday of every month from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. GLITZ and BLITZ are geared to people ages 13 to 20. The Pride Connections Center is at 32 Jones Street, Jersey City.
The New Jersey Support Group website lists local transgender support meetings across New Jersey and nearby parts of Pennsylvania.
Tri-Ess New Jersey is “an educational, social, and support group for the heterosexual crossdresser, their partner, the spouse of the married crossdresser, and their families.”