A New Jersey transgender woman has filed suit to change her birth certificate to reflect her gender identity without undergoing gender-reassignment surgery.
Surgery should not be seen as the arbiter of a person’s gender identity, said Julie Chovanes, one of the lawyers representing the woman, who is remaining anonymous.
“The main takeaway is that trans people are individuals and should be permitted to declare their own identity,” said Chovanes, the executive director of Trans-Help. “The individual’s desire is what’s important here.”
Surgery is just one treatment option for trans people,er dysmorphia, she said.
“There’s no requirement and no need for any treatment if they’re happy with where they are, if they’re not clinically distressed,” she said. “It is not like the golden city on the hill at all.”
For trans people who do want the surgery, health and financial barriers can also act as obstacles.
Pennsylvania, New York, Iowa and other states have all changed their laws on birth certificates so that trans people do not have to undergo gender-reassignment surgery to change their official government records.
The plaintiff’s lawyers are seeking a declaratory judgment request that would invalidate the existing New Jersey law for everyone.
The New Jersey attorney general’s office declined comment on the suit.
In recent years, the New Jersey Legislature has approved two bills that would ease birth certificate requirements, but both were ultimately vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie.