On International Transgender Day of Remembrance, New Jersey’s government recommits itself to advancing pro-equality policy to protect trans New Jerseyans
Today, the New Jersey Transgender Equality Task Force issued its final report and recommendations after a six month mission of research and community conversations to assess the legal and societal barriers to transgender equality and provide recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature on how to ensure equality and improve the lives of transgender people.
New Jersey is the first in the nation to establish a statewide Transgender Equality Task Force.
“With hate crimes against LGBTQ people on the rise in New Jersey, Garden State Equality is acutely focused on building a more affirming culture in our state with policies and protections to ensure that transgender New Jerseyans can live with safety and dignity,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director for Garden State Equality. “The report and recommendations of the Transgender Equality Task Force are a groundbreaking blueprint for advancing the true, lived equality of trans New Jerseyans. We are endlessly grateful to Governor Murphy and Attorney General Grewal for swiftly and decisively implementing policy changes, and we are immediately advancing work with their offices to faithfully implement each and every recommendation from the Task Force’s report.”
“As our LGBTQ community faces threats from the Trump Administration, New Jersey has always been and will continue to be on the front lines to protect the rights of our LGBTQ community,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “This report is a testament to our State’s unwavering commitment and belief that every resident deserves equal protection, regardless of gender identity.”
The Task Force was established following a law that Garden State Equality passed in 2017. Garden State Equality alumnus Aaron Potenza, former Director of Policy, served as the Chair of the Task Force and the organization’s representative throughout the duration of the Task Force’s mission.
Indicative of the urgency to protect transgender New Jerseyans, Governor Murphy and Attorney General Grewal have immediately made announced actions from the Task Force’s report.
Governor Murphy today announced that his administration will be closely examining all of the recommendations put forth by the Task Force, which include the following:
- Collection of SOGI Data: The Task Force recommended that the State begin to collect sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI) data across state agencies.
- Training at State Agencies: The report recommends anti-discrimination training for state employees on how to serve transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people, ensuring both compliance with the law and greater access to programs to services.
- Public Outreach: The Task Force recommends that certain state agencies engage in strategic outreach to transgender communities, including the creation and dissemination of “Know Your Rights” materials related to non-discrimination law.
- Law Enforcement Guidelines: The Task Force urges the Attorney General’s Office to develop and issue guidelines ensuring respectful, non-discriminatory treatment of transgender people by all state law enforcement agencies. This includes appropriate search procedures, respectful communication including proper use of pronouns, and a prohibition of profiling based on transgender status. It also asks the Juvenile Justice Commission to develop comprehensive policies for dealing appropriately with transgender youth in the juvenile justice system.
In addition, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal has announced three immediate steps:
- LGBTQ Equality Directive: The AG’s office has issued a new directive to define specific protocols that all law enforcement officers must follow to avoid engaging in impermissible harassment or discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
- Public Awareness Campaign: The Division on Civil Rights has launched a new, robust public awareness campaign to educate LGBTQ New Jerseyans — as well as businesses, employers, and landlords serving them — about their rights under the Law Against Discrimination.
- Juvenile Justice Commission: The new policy on LGBTQ juveniles updates existing policy and ensures that LGBTQ juveniles are treated fairly with regards to housing, facilities and programming, search restrictions, medical and mental health care, and confidentiality.
The Task Force report has laid out various other goals to improve the lives of transgender New Jerseyans, and Garden State Equality is immediately working to advance policy in that regard, specifically:
- Mandating all-gender designation for single-stall restrooms in government facilities.
- Developing an office of LGBTQ affairs within state government.
- Creating an ongoing Commission on Transgender Equality.
- Establishing statewide SOGI data collection.
The Task Force report includes numerous other policy prescriptions spanning the criminal justice system, education, housing, and healthcare that Garden State Equality is committed to securing on behalf of transgender New Jersyans.
Earlier this week, Garden State Equality advanced legislation to ban the gay+trans “panic” defense in the Assembly Judiciary Committee with a unanimous vote. This bill would outlaw a discriminatory legal strategy that asks a jury to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent murder. The legislation is scheduled for an Assembly floor vote next week, before it moves to the Senate.