Today marks International Transgender Day of Remembrance, a time when we gather to recognize, honor, and mourn the people in our community who we’ve lost to anti-trans violence and bigotry.
As of today, at least 30 known transgender Americans have been murdered, and across the globe, that number exceeds 330. With hate crimes against LGBTQ people on the rise in New Jersey, we’re acutely focused on building a more affirming culture in our state with policies and protections to ensure that transgender New Jerseyans can live with safety and dignity.
That’s why I’m happy to share with you that New Jersey’s Transgender Equality Task Force just released its groundbreaking final report and recommendations, and it’s going to change the lives of transgender people in our state for generations to come.
Because of a law we passed last year, New Jersey is the first state in the nation to have a Transgender Equality Task Force. Its mission: to study the legal and societal barriers to equality for transgender individuals in New Jersey and provide concrete policy prescriptions for the governor, legislature, and state agencies to enact.
After six months of deliberative work, community meetings, and significant research, the Task Force has developed an innovative blueprint for advancing transgender equality in New Jersey — and numerous concrete actions are already in motion.
Today, Governor Murphy announced that his administration will be closely examining all of the recommendations put forth by the Task Force, which include the following:
- Collection of SOGI Data: The Task Force recommended that the State begin to collect sexual orientation or gender identity data across state agencies.
- Training at State Agencies: The report recommends anti-discrimination training for state employees on how to serve transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people, ensuring both compliance with the law and greater access to programs to services.
- Public Outreach: The Task Force recommends that certain state agencies engage in strategic outreach to transgender communities, including the creation and dissemination of “Know Your Rights” materials related to the Law Against Discrimination.
- Law Enforcement Guidelines: The Task Force urges the Attorney General’s Office to develop and issue guidelines ensuring respectful, non-discriminatory treatment of transgender people by all state law enforcement agencies.
In addition, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal has announced three immediate steps:
- LGBTQ Equality Directive: The AG’s office has issued a new directive to define specific protocols that all law enforcement officers must follow to avoid engaging in impermissible harassment or discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
- Public Awareness Campaign: The Division on Civil Rights has launched a new, robust public awareness campaign to educate LGBTQ New Jerseyans — as well as businesses, employers, and landlords serving them — about their rights under the Law Against Discrimination.
- Juvenile Justice Commission: The new policy on LGBTQ juveniles updates existing policy and ensures that LGBTQ juveniles are treated fairly with regards to housing, facilities and programming, search restrictions, medical and mental health care, and confidentiality.
The Task Force report has laid out various other goals to improve the lives of transgender New Jerseyans, and we’re already hard at work to design policy to achieve those recommendations. Most immediately, we will be working to:
- Mandate all-gender designation for single-stall restrooms in government facilities.
- Develop an office of LGBTQ affairs within state government.
- Create an ongoing Commission on Transgender Equality.
- Establish statewide sexual orientation and gender identity data collection.
And that’s just the beginning. Across the criminal justice system, education, housing, and healthcare, there are numerous other significant actions we’ll be working towards. Please take a moment to read the Task Force’s report yourself by clicking here.
And I want to thank you for helping Garden State Equality create the Transgender Equality Task Force and supporting us throughout its mission. We couldn’t do this transformative work without members like you.
And I’d specifically like to thank our dear friend and colleague, Aaron Potenza, who not only steered the legislation which established the Task Force, but served as Chair and representative for Garden State Equality on it. His work has and will continue to change the lives of transgender New Jerseyans.
So as we mark International Transgender day of Remembrance — in memory of all those we’ve lost — let’s recommit ourselves to building a safer, more inclusive state that honors and protects the dignity of every New Jerseyan, no matter who they are or whom they love.
Let’s get to work!
Garden State Equality