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Chris Christie Seems to Think Trans Rights are a Security Threat

Chris Christie Seems to Think Trans Rights are a Security Threat

Questions surrounding New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s political judgment continue with news that he has vetoed a bill aimed at making gender transition for trans people easier. Christie’s reasoning? It would make identity fraud easier and thus poses a security threat.

While New Jersey already has in place a system for recognizing gender transition, it is quite laborious and relies on gender affirming surgeries that not all trans people need or want. The legislation, known as AB 4087 and passed by the New Jersey General Assembly in June and the New Jersey Senate in December of last year, aimed at updating the decades-old law so that trans citizens wouldn’t need to have proof of surgery prior to changing their gender markers.

In a veto issued on Monday, Governor Christie argues that the current law is sufficient and that the bill fails to provide proper safe-guards against identity fraud and therefore represents a security risk:

A birth certificate is an important legal document. In many instances, the production of a birth certificate is a prerequisite to obtaining other critical identification documents that factor into decisions concerning employment, financial services, education, and travel. Birth certificates are often required to complete myriad security-related tasks. Accordingly, proposed measures that revise the standards for the issuance of amended birth certificates may result in significant legal uncertainties and create opportunities for fraud, deception, and abuse, and should therefore be closely scrutinized and sparingly approved.

This move has aggravated trans rights groups who believe that Christie’s fears are overblown but that the burden the current system places on trans people seeking to amend their gender markers is very real.

Says the National Center for Transgender Equality:

“NCTE is extremely disappointed that Governor Christie vetoed this basic, modernization bill that would make transgender people’s lives easier by allowing them to more easily update their birth certificate to match who they are. His stated concern for fraud and abuse has no basis, given the safeguards in the bill as well as the experience that other states have had with similar laws; he clearly did not do his homework.  This means all the transgender people born in New Jersey are facing ‘traffic lane closed’ signs instead of being able to live their everyday lives without unnecessary barriers put up by the government.”

Christie’s veto is especially disappointing given that the New Jersey legislature passed this legislation with strong majorities, 21-11 in the Senate and 43-27 in the Assembly, but sadly not strong enough to override a veto.

There’s another element to Christie’s veto that is decidedly darker: his vague allusions to fraud seem lifted straight from the religious conservative’s transphobic talking points. As the NCTE points out above, in no cases where laws like this have been instituted have there been instances of widespread fraud. In fact, the law is unlikely to impact the wider public in any way at all. And yet, Christie chose to use the old lie that recognizing gender transition poses a risk to the public.

This is incredibly unfortunate because, as Christie appears to recognize, an accurate birth certificate is so important. It can provide the basis for accessing a number of other vital documents and services, for instance supporting an application for a driving license, applying for a new job, and getting timely access to medical care.

As such, by returning this bill Christie has allowed yet another barrier to equality and basic civil rights for trans people to persist and has done his own beleaguered reputation no favors.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock.

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84 comments

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3:28PM PST on Jan 22, 2014

Is he not the Republican Party front runner for President? Do we actually want him as our president? Will we ALLOW this "thing" as our president?

11:11PM PST on Jan 20, 2014

Yea that is security threat....everything else is just fine....o God...

11:43AM PST on Jan 18, 2014

Does he really think some one is going to go through transition so they can commit identify fraud? Just an another sad example of bigoted ignorance. The real sad thing is those that once again are being deprived of simple rights others take for granted.

8:27PM PST on Jan 17, 2014

Thanks for the post.

3:04PM PST on Jan 17, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

11:06AM PST on Jan 17, 2014

I guess he's afraid that there will be all these Islamic terrorists out there dressed as women, trying to hide their beards with the veil and burka... Quite frankly, I'd say that this is just another lame excuse from a right wing politician to try to prevent equal rights from reaching a group of people that he doesn't like or approve of.

I see no way in which granting equal rights to transgendered people would be a security risk to this nation, I do however see how the right wing politicians that serve the corporations and banks rather than the people of this country are a security risk. They're continuously risking the security of this nation, by turning the people into their de facto enemies... When the people can't trust their elected officials to serve them because the corporations pay more, that is a considerable risk to the nation, the people, and those politicians...

9:09AM PST on Jan 17, 2014

No surprise here . . .

7:59AM PST on Jan 17, 2014

It's chaos! We're all security risks who might legally change our names at any moment due to marriage, divorce, adoption, or just plain wanting a different name! I think there was a lot bigger security risk to the people of NJ when emergency vehicles were stuck in a vindictive traffic jam on the world's busiest bridge, and when thousands of Hurricane Sandy victims, particularly the poor and non-White ones, didn't get any H.U.D. relief money since millions of it went into an expensive "We're Stronger Than the Storm"ad campaign featuring Christie and his family.

7:36AM PST on Jan 17, 2014

Christie has demonstrated his lack of tolerance for others -- he has yelled at constituents and reporters alike. When someone lacks sufficient self-control to manage his/her own temper that person will be so opinionated that they will not accept differences in society -- it's his way or the highway.

6:40AM PST on Jan 17, 2014

Anne M, do you know for a fact that Christie’s weight is solely from over-eating? And what about the politicians who don’t have enough self-discipline to keep it in their pants? How many sex scandals have there been? Self-discipline involves more than just weight.
I noticed how kissy Christie was with Obama after Sandy and how quickly he turned on him after he got what he wanted. Seems a little two-faced, no?
Will the ultra-Rights embrace him now or leave him out in the cold?

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