TRENTON, NJ—For the second time, Governor Christie vetoed a bill that would have made it easier for transgender individuals to change their name and gender on their birth certificate.
The bill would have changed the law so that a person hoping to change the name and gender on a birth certificate would not be required to provide proof that they underwent a "sex change" operation, a procedure that many individuals cannot afford.
An applicant for the birth certificate changes would instead have to meet a much less stringent requirement: proof of “clinically appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition, or that the person has an intersex condition.”
“Birth certificates unlock access to many of our nation and state’s critical and protected benefits such as passports, driver’s licenses, and social services, as well as other important security-dependent allowances,” Christie wrote in a veto statement.
“Accordingly, I remain committed to the principle that efforts to significantly alter state law concerning the issuance of vital records that have the potential to create legal uncertainties should be closely scrutinized and sparingly approved.”
Governor Christie vetoed the same bill after it passed the State Legislature in 2014, also citing "security concerns" about "fraud, deception and abuse."
Both the 2014 and 2015 versions of the bill won overwhelming majorities in the Senate and Assembly.
Andrea Bowen, executive director of the advocacy group Garden State Equality, called Christie's alleged security concerns "illogical and gruesome."
Democratic Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle accused Christie, a 2016 Republican presidential candidate, of vetoing the bill for political reasons.
"Instead of updating a standard state procedure to be more inclusive and reflective of our changing society, the governor has once again chosen to pander to the right by masquerading behind baseless arguments," Vanieri Huttle told the Huffington Post.
“Many of us wouldn't’t think twice when asked to show our ID, but this is a very serious issue for transgender people. Having identity documents that accurately reflect who you are is vital in so many areas of everyday life – from applying for a job to exercising our rights at the ballot box," said Mason Davis, Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center.
"Governor Christie’s veto makes life more difficult for transgender people in New Jersey with absolutely no benefit to the state,” Davis said.
The National Center for Transgender Equality, another transgender activist group, also condemned Christie's veto.
"For the second time, Governor Chris Christie has elected to allow his state's birth certificate laws to deteriorate despite the overwhelming majority of support from the New Jersey legislature to modernize," the organization said in a written statement.
Eight states have so far eliminated the surgical requirement from the name and gender change process on one's birth certificate: California, New York, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland, Oregon and Washington.
The District of Columbia has a similar measure in effect, and Hawaii is in the process of setting up new standards.