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Ruiz-Vitale Bill Establishing Transgender Equality Task Force Becomes Law

TRENTON – Today Governor Murphy signed legislation sponsored by Senator M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Joseph Vitale that would establish the Transgender Equality Task Force that will assist transgender individuals in accessing vital services in New Jersey.

“We must ensure all New Jerseyans are protected from discrimination, regardless of their race, ethnicity, background, sexual preference or identity,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Making sure that the transgender community is afforded equal access to services such as healthcare, education, long-term care, higher education, housing, employment and public safety is vital. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”

“We have a responsibility to stand up for transgender people in New Jersey and to guarantee that they can get jobs and medical care and live quality lives without facing discrimination,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “This task force should propel New Jersey to the forefront of states protecting our residents from inequity and harassment.”

The law establishes the Transgender Equality Task Force, which will be charged with assessing the legal and societal barriers to equality for transgender individuals in the state, and providing recommendations to the Legislature and the governor on how to ensure equality and improve the lives of transgender individuals, with particular attention to the following areas: healthcare, long-term care, education, higher education, housing, employment, and public safety. The law requires that the task force submit a written report to the governor and the Legislature, outlining its recommendations for advancing transgender equality in the State, not later than six months after its initial meeting. The law expires on the 30th day following the submission of this written report.

The task force will consist of 17 members whose duties or expertise includes expanding access to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. The members will be comprised as follows: a representative of the Department of Banking and Insurance; a representative of the Department of Human Services; a representative of the Department of Education; a representative of the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education; a representative of the Division of Civil Rights in the Department of Law and Public Safety; a representative of the Department of Children and Families; a representative of the Department of Corrections; a representative of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development; two public members appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly; one of whom would be a physician who specializes in transgender health issue; two public members to be appointed by the President of the Senate; one of whom would be a parent or guardian of a transgender individual; one public member to be appointed by the governor; who would be a representative of a social service agency that provides services and supports to transgender individuals; a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union; a representative of Garden State Equality and a representative of The Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey.