Governor's Mocking of Transgender Community's Challenges Goes Too Far


[Trenton] -- Today, the leaders of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee’s LGBT Caucus blasted Governor Chris Christie for mocking an issue of vital importance to the transgender community, and for vetoing legislation that would ease the process for changing gender markers in official documents.

“You have no compassion for the Caitlyn Jenners of this world?” the governor was asked about his recent veto on a nationally-syndicated conservative radio show. In response, Governor Christie vaguely attacked the bill as "beyond the pale," without providing substantive clarification, just saying it "doesn’t make any sense." According to news reports, he "could be heard chuckling."

The bill would have eased the process for transgender people, who obtain certification from a doctor that they have undergone clinically appropriate transition treatment, to correct their birth certificates accordingly. Current law is restrictive and makes the process onerous. Nine states and the District of Columbia have adopted policies similar to the one Christie vetoed, as has the Obama administration. Even radio host Michael Medved note that Christie’s position “sounds dangerously conservative.”

"If we are telling it like it is, then Governor Christie is a close-minded and callous individual with no concern for his constituents," said Christopher Hillmann, Co-Chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee's LGBT Caucus. "The fact is, most of what Governor Christie does -- his official actions as well as his brash, bullying attitude -- is offensive. But to diminish the concerns of the transgender community and then laugh about his veto is a step too far. And for what? To impress radical conservatives? He needs to grow up and grow a backbone, and decide who he works for -- the people of the Garden State or people in rural Iowa."

Babs Siperstein, who was also offended by Christie's words and deeds, has a first-hand perspective on the harmful impact of the Governor's decision. In addition to her other advocacy work, in 2009 Ms. Siperstein became the first openly transgender member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and was subsequently elected to serve on the DNC’s Executive Committee.

"This is not an abstract issue; it is one that creates many procedural problems -- problems with real-world consequences and that the governor has deliberately chosen to neglect. Clearly, his motives were at least partly political, because he is growing desperate for support from the hateful people that dominate the Republican presidential primary voter pool," Siperstein said. "It would be sad if it was not so disrespectful, not just to me, but to the people here in New Jersey that he was elected to serve. Just because his campaign regularly draws disparaging comments and scorn, that does not give him license to laugh at his constituents' challenges. For Christie to require transgender and intersex children to have possibly unnecessary surgery is truly, "beyond the pale"!"

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