New Jersey Transgender Birth Certificate Law Takes Effect Today

Garden State Equality celebrates historic Babs Siperstein Law, which removes birth certificate restrictions for transgender and non-binary New Jerseyans

ASBURY PARK, NJ - Beginning today, the “Babs Siperstein Law” will go into effect, allowing transgender and non-binary New Jerseyans to update their birth certificate to match their gender identity without invasive, outdated, or burdensome “proof of surgery” restrictions.

"The Babs Siperstein law is a historic, life-changing moment for transgender New Jerseyans,” said Garden State Equality Executive Director Christian Fuscarino. “New Jersey has always been a leader for LGBTQ equality, and this law moves us one step further in bringing dignity, respect, and affirmation to every transgender person in our state. I’m grateful to Governor Murphy and our lawmakers—both Republicans and Democrats—for ensuring that equality reaches everyone in New Jersey.”

The Babs Siperstein Law, named for New Jersey transgender activist Barbra “Babs” Siperstein and advocated for by Garden State Equality, was signed into law by Governor Philip Murphy on July 3, 2018.

The law streamlines the process for New Jerseyans to change the gender marker on their birth certificate, removing the outdated, burdensome, and invasive “proof of surgery” requirement; adding a third gender option (“X” for non-binary/undesignated); and removing the provider certification (e.g. - letter from a therapist) and replacing it with Self Attestation. This allows many in our state, including transgender, intersex, and non-binary people, to have full recognition in New Jersey.

“With the previous law, it was invasive and burdensome. You shouldn’t have to produce medical records. You shouldn’t have to say, ‘I had this surgery’ to have your identity affirmed,” said Garden State Equality Director of Policy Aaron Potenza. “Most people walk through life without their gender identity ever questioned, but when you’re forced to show your documents and they don’t reflect who you are, that incongruence invites discrimination.”

Transgender, non-binary, and intersex New Jerseyans need access to identity documents that accurately reflect the gender they live everyday, which is not necessarily the gender they were assigned at birth. We all use identity documents for important tasks such as enrolling ourselves or our children in school and college, applying for a job, opening a bank account, and applying for an apartment or mortgage. At other times we are compelled to show our identity documents, such as at a routine traffic stop. Having documentation that matches one’s gender is vitally important, as mismatches between a person’s gender identity and their identity documents can and does result in discrimination and harassment.

The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey showed that almost one third (32%) of transgender people who have shown ID’s that do not match their gender presentation had negative experiences, including verbal harassment (25%), denial of services or benefits (16%), being asked to leave (9%), and being assaulted or attacked (2%). This law will allow transgender, non-binary, and intersex New Jerseyans to access identity documents that match their lived experience, which is truly life saving.

New Jersey now joins 15 other states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. in expanding dignity and equality to transgender people by removing “proof of surgery” requirements and becomes the 4th state to add a non-binary designation.

For Garden State Equality’s FAQ guide on the Babs Siperstein Law and procedures for updating one’s birth certificate, please visit: https://www.gardenstateequality.org/faq