Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Nancy Pinkin and Mila Jasey to strengthen civil rights for transgender individuals in New Jersey was signed into law Tuesday.

“Now more than ever, we need to stand up for those who are being marginalized,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen).  “Antiquated policies and attitudes towards transgender individuals have led to discrimination, violence, depression and suicide.  While tremendous strides have been made in recent years to advance equality for members of the ‘LGB’ community, much more still needs to be done to help protect our brothers and sisters in the ‘T’ community.”

The reversal of the Boy Scouts’ century-old policy was inspired largely by the case of a transgender North Jersey boy whom Vainieri Huttle had stood up for, recently introducing a measure urging the Boy Scouts to create a more inclusive membership policy.

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Vainieri Huttle said these laws help solidify New Jersey’s position as a leader in transgender civil rights by, among other things, establishing a task force to help advance equality for transgender residents; improving insurance coverage; and making sure public records correctly reflect an individual’s gender identity.

The following measures were signed into law:

§  A-1727 – Establishes the Transgender Equality Task Force to assess legal and societal barriers to equality and provide recommendations to the Legislature. The 17-member task force will look at the following areas: healthcare, long term care for the chronically ill and senior citizen transgender population, higher education, housing, including homelessness, employment, and criminal justice.

§  A-1726 – Stipulates that the sex of a decedent is to be recorded on a death certificate to reflect the decedent’s gender identity as reported by next of kin or best qualified person available, unless the person completing the death certificate is presented with a document that memorializes the decedent’s gender transition. The bill also provides a legal process to address conflicting information regarding the gender of the decedent and codifies existing regulations regarding current information included on a death certificate.  

 “These laws help ensure the protection of our transgender residents and their livelihoods,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “Discrimination, harassment, decreased educational and employment opportunities, as well as barriers to clinically-appropriate healthcare and social services, will continue to harm them unless we take a stand.”

“All residents deserve the same protections and opportunities regardless of their gender identity,” said Jasey (D-Essex, Morris). “To better understand the challenges transgender residents are facing, we must engage people from its community and explore how we can best support them in their daily lives.”

The Human Rights Campaign reported that in 2015 there were at least 21 murders of transgender persons in the United States, more than any previous year on record, with a disproportionate number of these victims being transgender women of color.

             Assembly bill 1727 cleared the Assembly, 65-6, in May and the Senate, 36-0, in February. Assembly bill 1726 received Assembly approval, 57-10-3, in May and Senate approval, 32-4, in February.