ASBURY PARK, NJ – Tonight, Garden State Equality has learned of the passing of transgender activist and icon Barbra “Babs” Casbar Siperstein.
Barbra, a Jersey City native, passed away at the age of 76 on Sunday evening at RWJBarnabas Health in New Brunswick, New Jersey. She was surrounded by family, friends, and her loving partner and companion Dorothy.
“Babs was a towering figure in the LGBTQ community who worked tirelessly to advance the rights of transgender people over the last two decades. She was an architect of our movement, pioneering critical civil rights legislation here in New Jersey and, as the first openly transgender member of the Democratic National Committee, throughout our nation. With Babs, we had an LGBTQ icon—among the likes of Harvey Milk, Sylvia Rivera, and Bayard Rustin—born and raised right here in the Garden State. With the Babs Siperstein Law now in effect, every transgender New Jerseyan who updates their birth certificate will be reminded of Babs and her courage. Babs’ work has touched countless lives and will continue to do so, and we will ensure her legacy is remembered for generations to come,” said Garden State Equality Executive Director Christian Fuscarino.
“Babs— like no other—was instrumental in passing many of the 200+ LGBTQ civil rights laws and policies that Garden State Equality has secured in its fifteen year history. This is a tremendous loss for our community, and she will be sorely missed. Since the nascent days of Garden State Equality, Babs pushed us all to embrace an unmitigated pro-equality campaign that left no member of our community behind. Babs was truly unmatched and taught us all to never back down,” said Tom Prol, a longtime board member of Garden State Equality.
Barbra’s passing comes just two days after the Babs Siperstein Law—New Jersey’s historic birth certificate law bearing her name—went into effect. The Babs Siperstein Law streamlines the process for New Jerseyans to change the gender marker on their birth certificate, removing the outdated, burdensome, and invasive “proof of surgery” requirement; adding a third gender option (“X” for non-binary/undesignated); and removing the provider certification (e.g. – letter from a therapist) and replacing it with Self Attestation.
In 2009, Barbra became the first openly transgender member of the Democratic National Committee, where she was appointed by then-chairman Tim Kaine. She was appointed to the Democratic National Committee’s Executive Committee in 2011, where she served until October 2017.
After coming out in 2000, Barbra was a longtime activist for LGBTQ equality in New Jersey who served as an original board member for Garden State Equality. Most notably, over the course of her advocacy in New Jersey, Barbra helped advocate for marriage equality, transgender inclusive nondiscrimination protections, and most recently the Babs Siperstein Law.
Babs was an Army veteran, small business owner, and parent of three.
On behalf of our board, staff, and membership, Garden State Equality extends our deepest sympathies to Barbra’s family, and we are eternally grateful for her contributions to our organization, the state of New Jersey, and LGBTQ people across our nation.