All New Jersey Residents and Now One-Third of the U.S. Covered by Transgender-Inclusive Anti-Discrimination Protections
NJ Becomes Ninth State to Pass Trans-Inclusive Nondiscrimination Legislation; Bill Clears Legislature, Awaits Governor’s Signature
(Washington, DC) — Today New Jersey made a historic stride forward in protecting the civil rights of transgender people. New Jersey’s Senate passed bill S362 on Monday, December 11, by a vote of 31-5. The Assembly version, A930, passed New Jersey’s lower house today by a vote of 69-5, and now goes to Governor Jon S. Corzine, who is expected to sign the bill into law. Once signed, New Jersey will become the ninth state in the country to make discriminatory practices based on gender identity or expression illegal. New Jersey joins California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico and Rhode Island in legislating statewide transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination protections. These state-level laws in addition to similar transgender-inclusive protections in the District of Columbia and in over 80 cities and counties now protect one-third of the US population based on gender identity or expression.
“The legislation in New Jersey represents a huge civil rights victory for transgender communities,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). “I applaud the amazing efforts of the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey (GRAANJ), Garden State Equality and local advocates who showed that when we stand up for what’s right, we can win. While we celebrate that one-third of the US population is now covered, NCTE is continues to fight for explicitly transgender-inclusive protections on the federal level.”
New Jersey’s new law prohibits discriminatory practices in employment, housing and public accommodations based on “gender identity or expression”—the legislative language that covers transgender people. Too often transgender people face harassment and discrimination on the job or when applying for employment; when attempting to secure housing through rental properties or real estate; and in accessing everyday public accommodations, such as hospitals, schools, shops, hotels, restaurants and theaters.
“We are tremendously pleased to see this bill go to Governor Corzine for his consideration,” said Barbra Casbar, political director of the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey (GRAANJ) and National Center for Transgender Equality Board of Advisors member. “GRAANJ and our allies have worked very hard to educate the public and policymakers on the critical importance of making protections for transgender New Jersians explicit in our state’s law. The vastly positive vote for the legislation proves conclusively that effective education will tear down the walls of ignorance and discrimination”
“The overwhelming support of our Legislature shows that New Jersey’s elected officials recognize the need for civil rights protections for all of their constituents,” said Donna Cartwright, a founding member of the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey (GRAANJ) and member of the Board of Directors of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Prohibiting discrimination based on a person’s gender identity or expression is common-sense given the level of prejudice that transgender people face at work, in securing housing and accessing vital public accommodations such as hospitals.”
In June 2006, the National Center for Transgender Equality held its first national Target States Conference to provide legislative advocacy training to support local efforts in New Jersey and in eight other states where anti-discrimination laws included “sexual orientation” but not yet “gender identity or expression.” GRAANJ’s Barbra Casbar and Terry McCorkell were among the activists who attended NCTE’s Target States Conference.
“We are ecstatic,” said GRAANJ Co-Founder Terry McCorkell. “The people of New Jersey have historically been stalwart champions of justice and equality. Today we demonstrate to the nation that New Jersey is second to none in guaranteeing fair treatment under the law for all people in the Garden State.”
Recognizing the need to curb rampant discrimination against transgender people, currently eight states, the District of Columbia and 80+ cities and counties across the country have now passed explicitly transgender-inclusive anti-discrimination laws. Upon Governor Corzine’s signature, New Jersey will become the ninth state with inclusive anti-discrimination laws. These laws currently cover 33.5-percent, or one-third, of the US population.
About The Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey (GRAANJ): Founded in 2000, GRAANJ is New Jersey’s civil rights organization that works for full equality for gender nonconforming people, including those who identify as transgender and intersex. For more information, please visit www.graanj.org.
About the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE): The National Center for Transgender Equality is a national social justice organization devoted to ending discrimination and violence against transgender people through education and advocacy on national issues of importance to transgender people. The National Center for Transgender Equality is a 501(c)3 organization. For more information, please visit www.nctequality.org.
email: ncte [at] nctequality.org
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