Vitale, Weinberg & Gill Bills to Ease Changes in Birth & Death Certificates for Transgender New Jerseyans Signed into Law

TRENTON – Two pieces of legislation sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senator Nia Gill that will revise procedures for individuals who have changed their gender and name to receive an amended birth certificate and death certificate were signed into law today by Governor Phil Murphy.

The birth certificate law is named after Babs Siperstein, a prominent New Jersey transgender-rights advocate.

“Our existing law does not support the understanding that gender reassignment surgery is no longer the only option for transitioning.  By enacting this legislation, we acknowledge nonsurgical transitioning which usually includes physical, psychological, social, and emotional changes,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex).  “I applaud the tireless effort and advocacy of Babs Siperstein and others who are fighting for transgender rights here in New Jersey and across the country.  Allowing someone to change the gender inscribed on their birth and death certificates is not just symbolic – it represents, and upholds, the core of their identity.”

Formerly, 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 law altered the procedure to have an individual’s birth certificate changed regardless if they’ve had the procedure or not.

“This law 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 truly are, and will help to expand anti-discrimination protections,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “This law also extends to those who were born in other states and countries as a shining example that New Jersey is an inclusive home for everyone.”

The “Babs Siperstein Law,” requires 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 law 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.

New Jersey is the fourteenth state to amend the law to say surgery is not necessary for ones gender to be changed on their birth certificate.  The other states are: California, New York, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Oregon, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Iowa and Washington D.C.

Governor Murphy also signed into law a bill that would allow for a transgender individual to have their gender changed on their death certificate.

The law would clarify that the gender of the decedent is to be recorded to reflect the decedent’s gender identity, as reported by the person or persons with the right to control the funeral and disposition under current law, unless the person completing the death certificate is presented with a document that memorializes the decedent’s gender transition.  Documents that would be allowed to memorialize a gender transition may include: written instructions from the decedent; a court order approving a name or gender change, an advance health care directive, proof of clinical treatment for gender transition or documentation of a change to the gender marker on a birth certificate or a state or federally issued identification card.

“The purpose of this law is to ensure dignity for our transgender community,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic).

New Jersey would join California as states that allow for a transgender individual to have their gender changed on their death certificate to mirror how they identify.