Fighting Back For Transgender Rights In New Jersey

Our friends in the N.J. Legislature have been preparing to fight back and have our backs.
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While the Trump Pence Administration is at once acting like “the gang who couldn’t shoot straight” in matters of effective governance, they have been taking straight aim at rolling back wherever possible the common sense gains that LGB and transgender Americans have gained during the Obama Administration. The Trump appointments clearly represent the right wing religious ideologues.

His appointments of Tom Price and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions who have long consistent and public voting records to deny equality and respect to LGBT Americans are universally known, but the latest appointment of Roger Severino at HHS, whose job is to protect the civil rights of transgender people, is clear proof that just as a fox in a hen house will be a protector of hens, so based on his record of words and deeds, Severino will pervert the term “protector.”

Meanwhile in New Jersey, a blue/purple state with a lame duck Governor whose arrogance and public record of antipathy toward women’s rights, and LGBT rights, along with his public support for Trump, has helped bring a broad coalition of progressives together to fight for equality for all — including transgender rights.

During the period 2002-2009, New Jersey became a leader among states with explicit rights for transgender people by passing and enforcing anti-bullying laws, The Law Against Discrimination (Employment, Housing, Public Accommodations), Bias Crimes, Motor Vehicle Gender Change policy.

With the exception of banning conversion therapy in August 2013, a fully inclusive LGBT bill that Christie signed in the middle of his re-election campaign to give himself moderate” credentials, he has done nothing except veto bipartisan legislation promoting transgender rights.

Although N.J. has had explicit laws on its books to protect transgender students, with over 600 School districts, not every school system has gotten the message.

Meanwhile our friends in the N.J. Legislature have been preparing to fight back and have our backs. The following 5 transgender specific bills were introduced in early 2017.

The first one specifically provides that the Christie Administration follow the law and address the treatment of transgender students in accordance with the law.

A4652Vainieri Huttle, Valerie as Primary Sponsor, Referred to Assembly Education Committee S3067 — Ruiz, M. Teresa as Primary Sponsor, Referred to Senate Education Committee Requires Commissioner of Education to develop guidelines for school districts regarding Transgender students.

Because the Governor is not moving, we have some work to do and added pressure to bear.

Assemblywoman Huttle is also Chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee, she held hearings on February 13 and all 4 passed out of Committee.

Feeding on the momentum of the rally on March 13, plus the positive news earlier last month here in N.J. when 9-year-old Joe Maldonado became the first openly transgender Cub Scout in the nation, it was decided to move forward with a vote in the General Assembly on Thursday March 23 on the following:

A4567/S3068 — Establishes Transgender Equality Task Force (17 member). This bill will look into all areas where State Government interacts with transgender people and the task force will include transgender people, parents of transgender children, as well as representatives of all Government Departments 3/23/2017 Passed by the Assembly (65-5-5) A4568/S3017 — “Prohibits health insurers, SHBP, SEHBP, University Correctional Health Care, and Medicaid from discriminating in providing coverage and services based on gender identity.” This bill is directly intended to articulate and expressly protect NJ trans people from any gutting of Obamacare protections. 3/23/2017 Passed by the Assembly (62-6-7) AJR139/SJR100 — “Designates November 14th through November 20th as Transgender Awareness Week” 3/23/2017 Passed by the Assembly (61-5-8) AJR140/SJR101— Designates November 20th as “Transgender Day of Remembrance” (TDOR) 3/23/2017 Passed by the Assembly (61-3-9)

The fact that all four bills passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support and minimal direct lobbying and outreach is stunning and very encouraging. We should have a little more time and hopefully get a wider margin in the Senate.

I’m almost embarrassed to say that we didn’t ask Assemblywoman Huttle to do the TDOR and TAW proclamations. She had been invited to attend a TDOR observance in her district last November and was so moved by that experience that she decided to take action!

Invite your lawmakers, your representatives, it can only help!

Photos of Babs speaking at a rally at the N.J. Statehouse for at risk transgender youth.

Photos from a rally to urge Gov. Christie to sign trans rights bills.

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