Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Reed Gusciora, Mila Jasey and Gabriela Mosquera to make it easier for an individual undergoing gender reassignment to obtain an amended birth certificate gained final legislative approval from the full Assembly by a vote of 51-23 on Thursday.
"This bill acknowledges that individuals do not necessarily undergo sex reassignment surgery when transitioning genders so it revises the process for obtaining an amended birth certificate to reflect the change in current practices," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Essentially we're updating a standard state procedure to be more inclusive and reflective of our changing society."
The bill (A-2659) would revise the requirements for obtaining an amended certificate of birth due to a change in sex.
"Life is not black and white like people once perceived it," said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). "This bill acknowledges the nuances involved in gender reassignment in order to help make an already complex issue a little simpler for individuals who are transitioning."
Specifically, the bill stipulates that the state registrar of vital statistics shall issue an amended birth certificate to a person born in New Jersey who submits a request for an amended certificate, which shows the sex and name of the person as it has been changed. The application may be submitted on the person's behalf by a parent or guardian, if the person is a minor.
Under current law, in order to obtain an amended birth certificate, a person must undergo sex reassignment surgery and provide the state registrar with a medical certificate from their physician indicating that their sex has been changed by surgical procedure.
"The complex process of gender transitioning goes far beyond just physical changes," said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). "This bill takes a sensitive approach and updates state practice to acknowledge those complexities."
This bill would change the requirement to provide that a person could submit a form completed by their licensed health care provider which indicates that they have undergone clinically appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition, based on contemporary medical standards, or that the person has an intersex condition.
"For many reasons, often times financial, not everyone undergoes surgical procedures when they are transitioning," said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). "This bill will recognize an individual as the gender they identify with, regardless of whether they've completed expensive surgeries."
Current law also requires the state registrar to place the original certificate of birth and all papers pertaining to the amended certificate of birth under seal, which is not to be broken except by order of a court of competent jurisdiction. This bill would permit the seal to be broken upon the request of the person who is the subject of the certificate of birth, or upon the request of the parent or guardian, if the person is a minor.
Additionally, the bill stipulates that in the case of a New Jersey resident who was born in another state or in a foreign jurisdiction, if the other state or jurisdiction requires a court order to amend a birth certificate to reflect a change in sex, a court in this state would have jurisdiction to issue such an order.
The bill now heads to the governor's desk.