In what is being called an attempt to help simplify the lives of non-binary and transgender individuals, when they are ready to affirm their identity, the state of New Jersey will be offering a third gender option on all birth certificates. The third gender option will go into effect on Friday, February 1st, allowing the choice of male, female, or non-binary for future births.
In a statement made to TODAY, the policy director of Garden State Equality, Aaron Potenza, pointed out what many see as a major need for the new option. “You often use a birth certificate to enroll in school. Until you have a license that is your ID. For people under 16, they often have to show their birth certificate and they are coming up against issues.”
The main issue, according to Potenza, occurs because the birth gender listed on the birth certificate isn’t a match to the gender the individual identifies with. New Jersey has laws that require school administration and personnel to refer to the gender that the student has stated they identify with.
Unfortunately, at present, this does not curtail the ongoing problems faced by these same individuals such as harassment, discrimination, and bullying. Add in the fact that, in the case of those who identify with a non-binary gender, those who feel they are neither male nor female, these options may or may not help them when it comes to the same social perceptions and responses as those listed above.
New Jersey’s new law, the Babs Siperstein Bill, is worded and intended to allow individuals to change their gender, on their birth certificates. It is hoped that this will go a long way in helping to protect both trans and non-binary individuals from any further discrimination.
Potenza offered: “When the birth certificate shows what the gender at birth is, not every school is going to treat them fairly.”
The new bill states that it does not require individuals to show proof of gender affirmation surgery or even letters from a therapist. They are able to legally change their gender, on their birth certificate, just by filling out the required paperwork.
It is believed that the lack of such requirements are essential, as children do not have gender affirmation surgery, and those transgender individuals who elect to forgo the same surgery are having to live with being misgendered on official documents.
Potenza feels that the having to provide any medical records or proof of affirmation is both invasive and burdensome. If these individuals live and present themselves as one gender, and their official documents state another, they will be constantly running into issues. This bill will work towards preventing those issues.
So what’s the verdict—you decide.
Should individuals be able to decide their gender, and not be held to the gender that they were born with?