New Jersey has become the fourth state to introduce a “gender-neutral” option on birth certificates following the introduction of a new law which will go into force Friday.
The Babs Siperstein Law, which derives its name from a New Jersey resident and the first transgender person to become a member of the Democratic National Committee, will allow residents to change their certificates to specify either “female, male, or undesignated/nonbinary.”
“Having a gender-neutral option will now give thousands of people in the state of New Jersey the power to self-identify,” said Amanda Babine, director of policy and programs at the New York Transgender Advocacy Group, as reported by NBC News. “We find this choice to determine their own identity leads to an increase in well-being for the individual and a push towards creating more inclusive communities.”
Another advocate, Ashley Chiappano, told News 12 New Jersey that just because you are born with a particular biology “does not necessarily mean that it is something that’s going to be consistent with your gender identity throughout your life.”
“Sex is more like a label,” added Chiappano, who is the with the pro-LGBT group “Garden State Equality.”
“When we’re talking about sex, this is assignment by a doctor. Gender identity goes even further to say that it’s how you feel on the inside and how you express yourself. It’s how you express yourself through your clothing, your behavior, your personal appearance,” she noted.
Prior to this new law, New Jersey residents who sought to amend their birth certificates were required to provide official medical confirmation that they had undergone sexual reassignment.
The landmark decision follows in the footsteps of Oregon, California, Washington and New York.
The New York law, which was approved in October by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), went into effect earlier this month and gives residents the opportunity to change the sex descriptors on their birth certificates to “X” if it reflects their “true gender identity.” Parents can likewise give newborns the same identifier.