Senate OKs bill creating transgender-discrimination task force

The state Legislature is moving forward on a bill that would establish a task force focused on assessing the level of discrimination against New Jersey’s transgender individuals, including in employment.

The Senate approved legislation Monday on the bill, sponsored by Sens. Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) and Joe Vitale (D-Woodbridge), which would result in a list of recommendations six months after the task force first meets.

The Assembly will consider the bill next.

“We must ensure that New Jerseyans are protected from discrimination, regardless of their race, ethnicity, background, sexual preference or identity,” Ruiz said in a statement. “Every person deserves to be treated with respect and dignity, and making sure that the transgender community is afforded equal access to services such as health care, education, long-term care, higher education, housing, employment and public safety is vital.”

The bill focuses on issues facing transgender individuals in the state.

The task force will include:

  • A representative of the Department of Banking and Insurance;
  • A representative of the Department of Human Services;
  • A representative of the Department of Education;
  • A representative of the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education;
  • A representative of the Division of Civil Rights in the Department of Law and Public Safety;
  • A representative of the Department of Children and Families;
  • A representative of the Department of Corrections;
  • A representative of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development;
  • Two public members appointed by the speaker of the General Assembly, one of whom would be a physician who specializes in transgender health issues;
  • Two public members to be appointed by the president of the Senate, one of whom would be a parent or guardian of a transgender individual;
  • One public member to be appointed by the governor, who would be a representative of a social service agency that provides services and supports to transgender individuals;
  • A representative of the American Civil Liberties Union;
  • A representative of Garden State Equality;
  • A representative of The Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey.

“We have a responsibility to stand up for transgender people in New Jersey, and we should do that by putting in place protections that would help them to obtain a job, medical care and be able to live a quality life without facing discrimination,” Vitale said in a statement. “New Jersey should be a leader in providing the kinds of policies that ensure that all people are free from discrimination and harassment, and that will be the focus of this task force.”