In a surprising move, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) signed two transgender rights bills into law on Friday.
The first bill, SB 3067, requires Commissioner of Education to develop guidelines for school districts regarding transgender students. The guidance will address common issues concerning the needs of transgender students while assisting schools in establishing policies and procedures that ensure a supportive and nondiscriminatory environment. The new guidelines will address some of the following:
- Protecting transgender students from discrimination including those who are transitioning.
- Confidentiality and privacy concerns, including ensuring that school personnel do not disclose information that may reveal a student’s transgender status.
- Procedures for school records
- Ensuring that transgender student are addressed at school by their preferred name and pronouns.
- Issuing school documentation such as student identification cards in the name preferred by a student and allowing them to follow dress codes according to their gender identity
- Sports and activity participation corresponding with the student’s gender identity.
- Use of restroom and locker room facilities that correspond with a student’s gender identity.
- Ensuring that school counselors are properly educated regarding transgender issues.
- Permitting and supporting school sponsored LGBT themed clubs and activities.
The second bill, A4568, prohibits health insurers, providers, hospitals, and Medicare from discriminating in providing coverage and services based on gender identity. Transgender people can no longer be denied coverage, be charged more, or be designated as a pre-existing condition. The also cannot be denied any coverage or claim that is given to a cisgender patient.
Governor Christie’s record regarding LGBT issues has been mixed. Though he opposed gay marriage, he signed a bill banning conversion therapy in 2013. He also vetoed bills that would have made it easier for transgender people to change their gender marker, but cited fraud risks as the reason. The move regarding the new bills came as a surprise to many LGBT+ advocates as they are in contrast to the Trump administration’s policies which rescinded Obama era guidelines that protected transgender people. Christie has been an advocate and advisor for the Trump campaign and administration.