Governor Phil Murphy

On Transgender Day of Remembrance, Governor Murphy Announces Recommendations from Transgender Equality Task Force

11/20/2019

TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy today announced recommendations from the Transgender Equality Task Force, which was created when he signed Senate Bill No. 705 into law in July 2018. The bill, which was sponsored by Senator Teresa M. Ruiz and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, created a 17-member task force to prepare a report providing recommendations for advancing transgender equality in New Jersey. Aaron Potenza, a representative for Garden State Equality on the task force and currently Policy and Program Manager at the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, served as chair. The task force consisted of individuals both inside and outside of government.

“As our LGBTQ community faces threats from the Trump Administration, New Jersey will continue to be on the front lines to protect the rights of all New Jerseyans,” said Governor Murphy. “This report is a testament to our unwavering commitment and belief that every resident deserves equal protection, regardless of gender identity.”

"We are committed to using all of the tools of our office to safeguard the rights and safety of all New Jerseyans, including members of our LGBTQ community," said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. "That means not only pushing back against the discriminatory policies of the Trump Administration, but also pushing forward our vision of a fair, safe and welcoming state. Today, we are doing that by announcing a new law enforcement policy that implements several of the Task Force's thoughtful recommendations."

“Like the Transgender Equality Task Force, we’re committed to ensuring that all New Jersey residents are treated equally under the law, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression,” said Division on Civil Rights Director Rachel Wainer Apter. “Alongside Governor Murphy and Attorney General Grewal, we’re committed to making that promise a reality for all New Jerseysans, including by announcing a new public awareness campaign today to make sure LGBTQ residents know their rights and know they can come to us if they have been discriminated against.”

"As Chair of the Task Force and a transgender person, I am tremendously proud of the work the Task Force has done,” said Aaron Potenza, Chair of the Transgender Equality Task Force and Policy and Program Manager at the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “We know transgender people face persistent discrimination and systemic legal and societal barriers to full equality across the country and here in New Jersey. The report of the Task Force, which I encourage all lawmakers and policy makers to read, is comprehensive across at least seven policy areas, including criminal justice, healthcare, housing, employment, education, and more, and provides detailed, actionable steps that must be made to ensure a fairer Garden State for transgender New Jerseyans."

"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.”

“The creation of the Transgender Equality Task Force was an important step in New Jersey’s work to disrupt the discrimination, harassment, and other barriers to equality that transgender people endure,” said ACLU-NJ Legal Director Jeanne LoCicero and ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha.  “The Task Force’s report makes many important recommendations for state agencies and other government entities, and we urge New Jersey’s policy makers to move quickly to implement these reforms. One critical issue is that New Jersey needs to be better about collecting, analyzing, and reporting LGBTQI-inclusive data, at all levels of government. The ACLU of New Jersey was proud to participate in the Task Force, and we will continue our work to protect and expand the rights of all people of every gender.” 

“Antiquated policies and attitudes towards transgender individuals have led to discrimination, violence, depression and suicide,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle. “With a more comprehensive understanding of the social obstacles their community faces, the recommendations put forth by the task force will be fundamental in instituting equitable practices when it comes to healthcare, employment, education and many other issues. It is a matter of social justice and New Jersey will continue the fight.”

Recommendations outlined by the Transgender Equality Task Force include:

  • Collection of SOGI data:  The task force recommended that the State begin to collect sexual orientation and 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.

Members of the Transgender Equality Task Force include: Nicole Brown, Director of Legislative Affairs at the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance; Stefani Thachik, Director of Policy and Outreach at the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education; Leslie A. Farber, Esq., Law Office of Leslie A. Farber; Robyn Gigl, Esq., Gluck Walwrath LLP; Representatives of the Office of Policy and Planning at the New Jersey Department of Corrections; Dr. Christine Hamlett, Ed.D. at GSLEN North Jersey; Dr. Ian Marshall, M.D., Chief of Pediatric Endocrinology at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Group; Jeanne LoCicero, Esq., Legal Director at the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey; Holly Low, Manager of Strategic Outreach at the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development; Benn Meistrich, Esq., Legal Specialist at the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights; Christopher Menschner, Assistant Commissioner of the Division of HIV, STD, and TB Services at the New Jersey Department of Health; Adam Neary, Director of the Office of Legislative Affairs and Community Outreach at the New Jersey Department of Human Services; Linda Steuerwald, LJS Communications; Jessica Trombetta, Executive Director of Adolescent Services at the New Jersey Department of Children and Families; and Dr. A. Charles Wright, Deputy Assistant Commissioner at the New Jersey Department of Education. 

A copy of the report issued by the Transgender Equality Task Force can be found here