New Jersey is one of the most progressive states in the nation when it comes to protecting the rights and dignity of transgender people, especially youth.
The state’s anti-discrimination law, known as the Law Against Discrimination (LAD), prohibits discrimination and harassment based on gender identity or expression, as well as sexual orientation. This means that transgender people must be treated equally at work, in housing, and in places open to the public
The LAD also applies to schools, where transgender students have the right to be addressed by their preferred name and pronoun, use facilities that match their gender identity, participate in sports and activities consistent with their gender identity, and receive appropriate counseling and support services1.
In addition, New Jersey has enacted several laws and policies that specifically address the needs and challenges of transgender youth. For example:
- In 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed a law that allows transgender people to change their birth certificates without undergoing surgery or providing medical proof of their gender identity
- In 2019, Governor Murphy signed a law that bans licensed health care professionals from engaging in conversion therapy on minors, a harmful practice that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity
- In 2020, Governor Murphy signed an executive order that directs state agencies to collect demographic data on sexual orientation and gender identity whenever such data is collected on other aspects of identity such as race and ethnicity. This will help improve access to services and resources for LGBTQI+ people.
- In 2021, Governor Murphy signed a law that establishes specific rights and protections for LGBTQI+ older adults and people living with HIV in long-term care facilities. The law also requires staff training on LGBTQI+ cultural competency.
These laws and policies reflect New Jersey’s commitment to creating a safe and inclusive environment for transgender youth, who often face discrimination, bullying, violence, homelessness, mental health issues, and suicide risk.
Gender identity and expression are important aspects of one’s personal identity and self-expression. They are not choices or preferences that can be changed or suppressed. They are innate characteristics that deserve respect and recognition.
New Jersey recognizes this reality and strives to ensure that transgender youth have the opportunity to live authentically without fear or shame. New Jersey is a safe haven for transgender youth.