TRENTON – Yesterday, the Senate approved 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 that New Jerseyans are protected from discrimination, regardless of their race, ethnicity, background, sexual preference or identity,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Every person deserves to be treated with respect and dignity, and 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.”
“We have a responsibility to stand up for transgender people in New Jersey and we should do that by putting in place protections that would help them to obtain a job, medical care and be able to live a quality life without facing discrimination,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “New Jersey should be a leader in providing the kinds of policies that ensure that all people are free from discrimination and harassment, and that will be the focus of this task force.”
The bill, S-705, would establish the Transgender Equality Task Force, which would be charged with assessing the legal and societal barriers to equality for transgender individuals in the State, which would provide 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 bill would require 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 bill would expire 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) a representative of the Department of Banking and Insurance b) a representative of the Department of Human Services c) a representative of the Department of Education d) a representative of the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education; e) a representative of the Division of Civil Rights in the Department of Law and Public Safety f) a representative of the Department of Children and Families; g) a representative of the Department of Corrections; h)a representative of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development; i) two public members appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly, one of whom would be a physician who specializes in transgender health issues; j) 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; k) 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; l) a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union; m) a representative of Garden State Equality; and n) a representative of The Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey.
The bill was approved by the full Senate with a vote of 36-0. It will next go to the Assembly for consideration.