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Guide to the Babs Siperstein Law: Frequently Asked Questions

This page was last updated February 1, 2019 at 12:10pm.

What is the Babs Siperstein Law?

The Babs Siperstein Law, named for New Jersey transgender activist Barbra “Babs” Siperstein, was signed into law by Governor Philip Murphy. The law goes into effect February 1, 2019.

The law streamlines the process for New Jerseyans to change the gender marker on their birth certificate, removing the outdated, burdensome, and invasive “proof of surgery” requirement; adding a third gender option (“X” for non-binary/undesignated); and removing the provider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.

Why is this law important?

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 do match their lived experience, which is truly life saving.

What is the difference between transgender, non-binary, and intersex?

Transgender people are those whose gender identity does not match the gender they were assigned at birth. Non-binary is a term that is often used by people whose gender is not exclusively male or female, including those who identify with a gender other than male or female, with more than one gender, or with no gender at all. Intersex refers to a person whose sexual or reproductive anatomy, or chromosomal pattern, does not seem to fit typical definitions of male or female.

How do I change the gender marker on my New Jersey birth certificate (for adults)?

As of February 1, 2019, New Jersey will re-issue a birth certificate when an applicant wishes to update their gender marker, legal name, or both. An applicant can apply for an updated birth certificate by submitting:

Amendment requests are not accepted in-person. You must mail the completed application to:

Office of Vital Statistics & Registry – Records Modification Unit
NJ Department of Health
P.O. Box 370
Trenton, NJ 08625-0370

After processing, the original birth certificate will be placed under seal, and the updated birth certificate will be issued and will not show an amended status.

How do I change the gender marker and/or name on my child’s NJ birth certificate (for minors)?

If you are the parent or guardian of a minor child (under the age of 18) who has a New Jersey birth certificate and who does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, you may change the gender marker on your child’s birth certificate by following the process outlined below. To change your child’s name on their birth certificate (or on any identity document) you will need a certified copy of the court order granting the name change. You can apply for an updated birth certificate for your minor child by submitting:

  • A completed and signed Parent/Guardian Request Form and Attestation to Amend Sex Designation on a Birth Certificate for a Minor to Reflect Gender Identity
  • If changing the name, a certified copy of the court order granting the name change.
  • Proof of identity: Parent. If you are requesting the amendment on behalf of a minor and you are the minor’s parent, you must provide your full name as it appears on the minor’s birth certificate, along with government-issued identification showing your full legal name (if your current legal name is different than what appears on the minor’s birth certificate, submit legal name change court order, or marriage certificate).
  • Proof of identity: Guardian. If you are requesting the amendment on behalf of a minor and you are the minor’s guardian, you must provide government-issued identification showing your full legal name along with the certified copy of the court order appointing you as the guardian of the minor.
  • A check/money order for $6.00 (subject to change) payable to Treasurer, State of New Jersey.

Amendment requests are not accepted in-person. You must mail the completed application to:

Office of Vital Statistics & Registry – Records Modification Unit
NJ Department of Health
P.O. Box 370
Trenton, NJ 08625-0370

After processing, the original birth certificate will be placed under seal, and the updated birth certificate will be issued and will not show an amended status.

Do I need a court order to change my gender marker?

No. If you have a New Jersey birth certificate, you do not need a court order to change your gender marker. For instructions on how to change your gender marker see our above guide on changing your gender marker on your New Jersey birth certificate.

I have a birth certificate issued by another state/jurisdiction. Can I change my gender marker in New Jersey?

New Jersey cannot issue a birth certificate to a person born in another state or foreign jurisdiction. However, if you are a New Jersey resident AND you were born in a state that requires a court order to update a birth certificate, beginning February 1, 2019, the courts in New Jersey have the authority to issue a court order to reflect a change in gender. You will need to submit to the court a statement affirming under penalty of perjury that the request for a declaration of (female, male, or undesignated/non-binary) gender is to conform with your gender identity and not for any fraudulent purpose. For information on which states require a court order, and specifics on what the court order must attest to, see National Center for Transgender Equality: Identity Document Center.

If I have an “X” marker on my New Jersey birth certificate, can I get an “X” marker on my New Jersey license?

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission is working on implementing these changes. We do not have a roll out date for “X” markers on New Jersey drivers’ licenses at present, but stay tuned, as we will be updating our website and sharing that announcement as soon as it is made.

If I have an X marker on my New Jersey birth certificate, can I get an X marker on my passport?

At present the U.S. federal government only has “male” and “female” options on federally issued identity documents (passport, social security cards, green cards, etc.). With an “X” marker on your New Jersey birth certificate you will still be able to get a passport and social security card. Unfortunately you will need to select “male” or “female” on that form. See below for more information about changing your gender on your U.S. passport and with the Social Security Administration.

Is it an issue for my gender marker on various identity documents to be different?

While it is neither illegal nor unusual for gender markers to vary (for instance you may have an “F” gender marker on your U.S. passport, and an “X” marker on your New Jersey birth certificate) it can reduce bureaucratic hassles to have your gender markers match on all documentation.

Are there gender neutral options for how a parent is listed on their child’s birth certificate?

Yes. Same-gender couples who are either married, or in a civil union, can be listed as “Parent” and “Parent”, rather than as “Mother” and “Father” on their child’s birth certificate.


For more information on changing your state or federal identity documents you can contact Garden State Equality directly at contact@gardenstateequality.org, or visit one of the following resources:

National Center for Transgender Equality: Identity Document Center

Movement Advancement Project: Identity Document Laws and Policies

 

If you encounter any difficulties changing your state-issued identification please contact Garden State Equality at: contact@gardenstateequality.org