A transgender Plaintiff has sued the State of New Jersey, naming the State Registrar, Vincent Arrisi, Health Commissioner, Cathleen Bennett, the Office of Vital Statistics and Registry and the New Jersey Department of Health as defendants. Current state law makes it a requirement for an individual seeking to amend their gender marker on their birth certificate to provide evidence that they have undergone sex reassignment surgery (SRS).
Plaintiff claims that this requirement violates her rights under the Due Process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment. The suit further alleges discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), claiming that gender dysphoria (“GD”) “is a disability within the meaning of the ADA in that it substantially impairs one or more major life activities,” and that the “Defendants’ actions under the Statute discriminate against those trans people diagnosed with GD who have not undergone SRS as the Statute refuses accurate identification documents, a benefit provided to those individuals who are not trans people diagnosed with GD.”
The State of New Jersey does not require proof of SRS in order to change their gender marker on their driver’s license. The Federal Government also does not require proof of SRS to change the gender marker on a passport, immigration or social security records. Several other states, including neighboring New York and Pennsylvania does not require SRS to change the gender marker on a birth certificate.
In fact, in New Jersey both houses of the State legislature passed a bill, S1195, that would have permitted amending a birth certificate without proof of SRS in 2015. This bill was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie. This was not the first time such a bill was vetoed by the Governor. A similar bill that had passed both houses was vetoed by the Gov. Christie in January 2014.
As an attorney who represents transgender individuals, I understand that this requirement by the State creates an undue burden on people because there are many reasons why someone does not undergo SRS. I will be watching this case closely and hopefully the Courts will rule on the right side of justice and individual freedom.