Governor Phil Murphy this week signed bills allowing transgender individuals to change the gender stated on their birth certiificates, and to have their gender identity reflected on their death certificates — even without a sex reassignment procedure.

“Today is an important day for New Jersey as we continue to strive toward equality for all of our residents, regardless of sex or gender expression,” Murphy said in announcing he'd signed the bills. He additionally signed a measure a to create Transgender Equality Task Force.

Murphy said allowing vital records to match gender identity "is an important step forward that will allow transgender individuals to control the disclosure of their transgender status."

"I am immensely proud of Gov. Murphy for not only standing with our community, but also seeing that equality reaches everyone in New Jersey. Transgender people have long stood in solidarity with LGB people and here at Garden State Equality we make sure nobody is left behind,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive director of Garden State Equality, said in a press release provided by Murphy's office.

A Red Bank transgender woman sued New Jersey in 2016 over its refusal to change a birth certificate without proof of sexual reassignment surgery. The woman, in her complaint, argued the state was forcing her to have surgery she does not want, and argues the requirement represents government intrusion into a private decision.

"Throughout my life, I have been insulted, isolated, and assaulted for being trans," the woman said in her declaration for the case. She said she has been estranged from her family for most of her life. She also argued disclosure of her personal identity would bring physical harm.

Then-Gov. Chris Christie had twice vetoed legislation that would allow a birth certificate to be amended, saying he believes it to be "one of the most important legal documents that a person possesses" and that allowing a change would create "legal uncertainties."

"People identify as a particular gender, and it doesn't always necessarily have to include any physical change," state Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, a sponsor of the measure, told New Jersey 101.5 last month, after the birth certificate bill passed the state legislature.

He said reassignment surgery may also be nearly impossible for individuals suffering from certain medical issues, or those who don't have the financial means.

"Why should that limit or prohibit someone from expressing who they believe they are?" Vitale asked.

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