As we speak, New Jersey has joined three other states that allow newborns to be registered without gender. This landmark legislation is intended to increase transgender rights in the state.
Therefore, parents from the Garden State can now register their newly born kids as gender-neutral, which means they don't have to specify if they are male or female.
In other words, parents get to decide if to reveal the gender of their baby or not. In addition to male and female, they now have a gender-neutral option.
Why Have This Law?
Obviously, it's hard to know if children will change their gender identity once they get older. Why have this option in birth certificates instead of allowing them to exercise this option later in life when they are old enough to decide?
It's simple: by allowing these infants not to commit to a certain gender when they are born, such people can have an easier time later if they choose to have gender reassignment.
Non-binary and transgender people who won't have their genders declared at birth will also have an easier time changing their birth certificates in order to affirm their new gender choices.
The burden of proof of gender reassignment surgery is usually a big problem for such people when the authorities already identify them as belonging to a certain gender.
Therefore, the certificate will hopefully put the agony of officially switching gender to the rest.
However, the Garden State has laws that require schools to refer to students by their preferred gender. The law also calls for the learning institutions to treat such students accordingly.
Under these circumstances, some people have claimed to have experienced harassment, bullying, and even discrimination.
This new law comes from the Babs Siperstein Bill, and it was signed by Gov. Phil Murphy into law in July 2020. Phil resides in Edison, and he was named the first elected transgender member of the Democratic National Committee.
Gender And Sex Don't Always Match
According to Ashley Chiappano, who is part of the group Garden State Equality, having a certain gender assigned to you at birth does not mean you will be comfortable with that identity all your life.
As far as Ashley is concerned, sex is a label assigned to people by doctors. However, gender identity is something different since it:
"…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 behaviour, and your personal appearance."
The new law has made some people very happy as it finally validates their realities.
For instance, a 22-year-old DJ and musician, Jaimie Wilson, expressed how liberating and emotional it felt to have gender reassignment surgery and live like he always desired to.
Apparently, the physical transition from female to male was "the best feeling." He recalls cutting off the long hair and how good the world felt just after the operation:
"Emotionally I felt content and noticed my social anxiety and stress level sort of just disappeared. I became a more happy and lively person. I became me."
The process of starting hormone therapy was also quite a relief for Ashley. To him, it was like he had been living for 19 years as someone else and was finally given a chance to be his real self.
The therapy gave him the "magical juice that makes you look, sound, and feel like who you always have envisioned in your head."
Why The New Law Will Help
Not everyone is as lucky as Ashley. Only a privileged few can afford gender reassignment therapy or surgery.
For these people, the emotional torture of feeling like your sex doesn't match your gender will finally come to an end as authorities will now recognize their preferred gender identities.
In the past, Oregon, California, and Washington had passed laws to make birth certificates in these states gender-neutral. New York has also made a similar decision to join New Jersey and these other states to make birth certificates gender-neutral.
From the look of things, more states will be introducing gender-neutral birth certificates in the future.