Most people do not think about gender, gender identity or gender markers on a daily basis. However, conscious awareness and consideration of these is the everyday reality for transgender, non-binary, and intersex people.

Transgender: a broad term that can be used to describe people whose gender identity is different from the gender they were thought to be when they were born. “Trans” is often used as shorthand for transgender1

Non-binary: a term used to describe people who do not identify within the binary genders of “male” and “female”2

Intersex: a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male3

Few laws are passed in a given year that deal with these important issues; even less positively impact our community. One rare exception occurred in 2018 when the Babs Siperstein Law was passed. This blog post explains the Babs Siperstein Law, and what it means for our community.

So, there are three parts to the Babs Siperstein Law:

The first part makes it so that in order to change the gender marker on your New Jersey birth certificate, you would only need to attest to your gender identity to do so. For a gender marker change for a child, the parents would need to attest to the child’s gender identity through the same process. This is both more permissive and more appropriate than the previous law which required “sexual reassignment surgery” to have occurred, which is not only vague and ridiculous, but also immensely inconvenient as it required a notarized certification from a surgeon.4

The second part of the law is that now, New Jersey birth certificates must provide for an “X” gender marker (for non-binary people or those with an undisclosed gender).

The third and final part of the law makes it so that New Jersey residents can apply to New Jersey courts for an order confirming their gender identity in places that require it to change your identity documents (driver’s licenses, etc.)5

This ability to affirm one’s own gender through official means demonstrates what is already known: the law cannot change someone’s gender identity, but it can support or deny the person’s humanity under the law by providing recognition of that gender identity.

N.J.S.A. § 26:8-40.12 “The State Registrar shall issue an amended certificate of birth to a person born in the state who requests an amended certificate of birth which shows the gender and, if applicable, the name of the person as it has been changed”