Anne Stott

Under the Bridge: Trans Bill Veto Buried by Scandal

Amid the onslaught of Bridgegate and the Sandy scandal, Gov. Christie vetoed a law aimed to help transgender New Jerseyans

In January, embattled New Jersey governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill, passed by the legislature last year, that would have eased restrictions for transgender residents who want to amend their birth certificates with their appropriate gender.

Thanks a lot, Christie.

But since the Garden State governor had recently become ensnared in not one, but two, troubling scandals, the trans bill veto got little media attention.

How does Christie's veto affect transgender people in New Jersey? Current law requires those who have undergone gender reassignment surgery to receive new birth certificates with the change in sex. The proposed law, which Christie nixed, would have allowed people who have received “clinically appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition, based on contemporary medical standards, or that the person has an intersex condition” to change their birth certificates.

The bill reflects the greater array of medical treatments available to transgender patients, who can opt for hormone therapy or other procedures instead of gender reassignment surgery, which is often prohibitively expensive.

Christie declined to sign the birth certificate legislation, claiming that it would encourage “fraud, deception and abuse, and should therefore be closely scrutinized and sparingly approved,” according to the Star-Ledger.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, disagreed: “Governor Christie is letting down transgender New Jerseyans and showing that their well-being is of no concern to him. We call on the legislature to again pass this legislation and shine a spotlight on how harmful this veto is to the citizens of his state.”

Just five days before the veto, Christie got slammed full-force by the developing George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal, now dubbed Bridgegate. He is suspected of being involved in closing down two lanes of the GWB last September, causing a four-day traffic jam in Fort Lee, N.J. The town's mayor, Mark Sokolich, a Democrat, had declined to endorse Christie, a Republican, for re-election last year. Evidence publicized by The [Bergen] Record suggests that the lane closures were a form of vengeance against Sokolich.

If that weren't enough, Christie was also accused last month of withholding federal funding for hurricane relief in Hoboken, a suburb of 52,000 people—a mere 11 percent of whom are Republicans—devastated by Superstorm Sandy. The mayor of Hoboken, Dawn Zimmer, also a Democrat, states that she applied for $130 million in much-needed assistance, but received less than $400,000.

It makes us wonder where all that money went—for traffic cones in Fort Lee, perhaps?

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