Senate Accepts Assembly Amendment to Vitale-Weinberg Bill to Ease Changes in Birth Certificates for Transgender New Jerseyans

TRENTON – The Senate today accepted an Assembly amendment to legislation sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg that will revise procedures for individuals who have changed their gender and name to receive an amended birth certificate.

If enacted, per the Assembly amendment, the law will be named for Babs Siperstein, a prominent New Jersey transgender-rights advocate.

“With advancements in modern medicine, we know that gender reassignment surgery is no longer the only option for transitioning, yet the current law does not reflect this.  It does not account for nonsurgical transitioning which usually includes physical, psychological, social, and emotional changes,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “This bill removes the barriers that transgender New Jerseyans face when requesting changes to such an important identification document as their birth certificate to reflect who they are, and will help to expand anti-discrimination protections.”

Currently, for a person to amend the gender on their birth certificate, they must have undergone gender reassignment surgery. Understanding that not all individuals undergo this costly and dangerous surgery to change their gender, the bill, S-478, would alter the procedure to have an individual’s birth certificate changed.

“New Jersey law needs to recognize current practices for gender transitioning, which include nonsurgical therapies, and must afford transgendered individuals the same broad protection of their rights as all citizens to have official identification that reflects their gender,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “From applying for travel documents or driver’s licenses to school registration, a birth certificate is a necessary document and must be consistent with reality.”

The “Babs Siperstein Law,” S-478, would require the state registrar of vital statistics to issue an amended birth certificate to a person born in the state who requests the certificate to show the gender and name of the person has been changed. In order to process this request, the registrar would need a receipt of a name change approved by the court and a form from the person, or person’s guardian, which affirms the following language: “I (petitioner’s full name), hereby attest under penalty that the request for a change in gender to (female, male, or undesignated/non-binary) is to conform my legal gender to my gender identity and is not for any fraudulent purpose.”

The bill also provides that a court in New Jersey would have jurisdiction to issue an order to amend a birth certificate of a New Jersey resident who was born in another state or foreign jurisdiction if that other state or jurisdiction requires a court order for the change.

The Senate accepted the Assembly amendments by a vote of 31-0. The bill now advances to the governor for further consideration.