August 13, 2015 at 1:43 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Christie laughs about vetoing trans birth certificate bill
Chris Christie, Republican Party, New Jersey, CPAC, Conservative Political Action Conference, gay news, Washington Blade

Gov. Chris Christie laughed about vetoing a transgender birth certificate bill. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie laughed on Thursday about his recent veto of legislation that would have streamlined the process in his state for transgender people to change the gender marker on their birth certificates, saying the measure was “beyond the pale.”

The GOP hopeful chuckled about his actions during an interview with conservative radio host Michael Medved, who asked Christie about his veto on Monday of the legislation, S1195. Medved asked, “You have no compassion for the Caitlyn Jenners of this world?”

“Listen, for people who do not have a sex-change operation, all the bill required was somebody that who would seek a doctor’s treatment and that that doctor would verify they felt like the opposite gender,” Christie replied.

“I have to tell the truth, Michael, there are certain things that just go beyond the pale, and that’s not what I’m gonna permit the law to be in New Jersey,” Christie added. “It doesn’t make any sense to me, and that’s why I vetoed it again, and if they send it to me again, I will veto it again.”

When Medved responded with a remark about being “dangerously conservative,” Christie could be heard on the other line chuckling.

The bill, which was passed in the Democratic-majority legislature, sought to simplify the process allowing transgender people to change their birth certificates. Under current law, a transgender person in New Jersey must show evidence of gender reassignment surgery to make the change; the legislation would have eliminated the requirement.

For minors, the bill would have allowed a parent or guardian to submit an application for a change in gender marker on their child’s behalf.

As Christie noted in the interview, his veto on Monday was the second time he vetoed the legislation. In January 2014, Christie vetoed an identical bill, citing the same concerns as now and asking the legislature to make changes.

Had Christie signed the bill into law, New Jersey policy on birth certificates for transgender people would be similar to the way the Obama administration has streamlined the process to change a gender marker on federal documents, such as for Social Security services or a U.S. passport.

The cavalier attitude with which Christie talked about the pro-trans legislation in his interview contrasts with his statement on Monday explaining his veto of the bill. At the time, Christie said he rejected the measure out of concerns for out of concerns for potential fraud, deception and abuse. The governor also expressed an openness to reconsidering the measure if legislature addressed his security concerns and perceived legal uncertainties.

TJ Helmstetter, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, took Christie to task for his remarks during the interview and the act itself of vetoing the bill.

“What goes beyond the pale is Chris Christie standing in the way of LGBT equality for years in New Jersey, and his policies that would take America backwards,” Helmstetter said. “It’s beyond the pale that instead of finding ways to move New Jersey forward, Christie chuckles and pursues his presidential ambitions.”

Christie remains behind in the polls in his pursuit of the Republican nomination to win the White House. Before and after the first presidential debate, Christie has polled about four percent in support among Republicans.

JoDee Winterhof, the Human Rights Campaign’s senior vice president of policy and political affairs, called on Christie to apologize for his remarks.

“It was bad enough that Gov. Christie vetoed this bill,” Winterhof said. “Now he has added insult to injury by demeaning the entire transgender community. What’s really beyond the pale is that a sitting governor, much less a candidate for the presidency, would use such offensive and harmful rhetoric in 2015. Chris Christie should immediately apologize.”

A spokesperson for the governor’s office referred the Washington Blade’s request for comment on whether Christie stands by his remarks to his presidential campaign. A campaign official clarified Christie’s comments were on the nature of legislation and not the transgender community, but didn’t have anything more to offer, such as an apology from the governor.

h/t Star-Ledger

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • Critifur

    I take no comfort in agreeing with Chirstie, I am loathe to agree, but…

    I really take issue with someone changing a birth certificate to indicate gender unless it lists it as a change in physical appearance, just as I take issue with a birth certificate listing two men as birth parents. Maybe I am missing something, but as a legal document, for the purpose of having records of reality. Two men cannot bring a child into the world on their own, and a birth certificate should list the people whose DNA created another person, then it might have an amendment for an adoptive parent, it does not lessen the adoptive parents place in the relationship or legal standing, but it is a record of reality. A trans person, for reasons of legal record, should record the child’s physical appearance at birth, and if that person changes their appearance, then there should be an amendment of the transition to a different physical appearance. As frustrating or disturbing it may be, a mtf trans person will never have ovaries or a womb, a ftm trans person will never have testes, or a fully functioning penis, that is reality, and should be recorded as such. Have a driver’s license or passport that states your current gender assignment, should be sufficient for anyone’s legal needs. I understand the feelings that someone is the gender they identify as, or two men insist that they are both the equal parent, (someone donated the sperm and someone donated the egg) there is a tipping point from trying to make everyone feel good over what is a legally descriptive document.

    It’s like the creationists insisting on having a history listing man living at the same time as dinosaurs, and as much as they would like that to be written into history, it isn’t reality, even if they want it to be.

    • van2Dpool

      Aside from providing a legal description, there are also parental rights that go with birth certificates. If only one half of a partnership is listed on the birth certificate, then only that half can have the parental rights of the child. Having two men, or two ladies, on the birth certificate guarantees parental rights for both of the people raising the child.
      Also, do a little research on intersex people. If you knew a little bit about that community, then maybe you’d backtrack on the assertion that a birth certificate should label the person’s genitals. Sometimes, it’s a little more complicated than just a describing either a penis or vagina.

      • Critifur

        I completely understand the legalities, as as I said there should be a listing for the adoptive parent. Normally this is handled by sealing the original birth records containing the birth parents names, or there is just adoption papers added on.

        I also understand the much about intersex people, but intersex is not the same as trans. In intersex situations when there is say ambiguous genitalia, or DNA does not match physicality, I believe that the person should be able to make the choice as to who they are/feel they are/know they are/when they need to make their own decision, and the records made to reflect that. The same with trans. Those facts should be recorded. I do not and would never deny anyone’s right to choose, or be who they are, nor deny them them their dignity, or treat them as anything less than. But facts should be recorded as they are. They are not lesser people because they are intersex, or trans, or gay, or of color, or challenged in some way. I suppose as in adoptions, maybe the original birth information should be sealed, but there should still be a record. Records need to be kept as factual, for what is and was. Why shouldn’t a birth certificate reflect trans or intersex for that matter, maybe a birth certificate should not be binary itself but reflect all the aspects of what a person might be in respect to gender, and parentage, and without judgement. But still a record of truth.

    • It seems that you are behind on the times, my friend. Two men can have a child. All they need is a surrogate mother (which there are plenty of available by choice), their stem cells, and a laboratory. This is the 21st century. Same-sex individuals having children can and does happen. Just because some individuals are ignorant to modern medical science, or advances in technology in general, does not mean that the law must reflect the less-than-average understanding of the world. That is not how it has ever worked. You also stated that MTF or FTM individuals will /NEVER/ have the genitals that they want with full reproductive capability, but that is also false. We have already 3D printed the vaginal canal, and it is incredibly easy to create other organs, as stem cells can become any type of tissue. All it would take is IVF, and complications at birth would be no different than any other time – many women with XY chromosomes have been able to have children in the past.

      Regardless of your feelings on this topic, you are out of the loop about what is currently happening, and your misconceptions should not be used to justify taking away someone else’s pursuit of happiness. You should, at the very least, have an informed opinion before you vote next time – or agree with a random politician that is obviously not living in this century.

      • Critifur

        Aren’t you a cute bait-er. While it is true that scientist are claiming an ability, to create a zygote from the sperm of two men and a donated egg. It has not as yet occurred, you still have to wait a while for the 21st century to catch up, once that does happen, record it in the birth record. Though my thoughts on that, is that is it extremely wasteful, expensive and selfish to accomplish, just to satisfy a need to claim DNA ownership when children in need of adoption abound.

        I also said that ftm and mtf trans people will never have reproductive organs, and while it may be possible to clinically reproduce them, someday, you are fantasizing that “it is incredibly easy to create other organs”. Laughable actually. No, it is still incredibly difficult to come close to replicating organs. If it was easy there would be a great production of hearts, lungs, livers, kidneys, eyes, etc, needed for recipients, and yet we don’t have that capability either. Certainly testes and ovaries are not at the top of the list of “to dos” of organ creation for trans folk, before we have replaced the heart of a little kid with a heart malformation.

        Either way, I think you missed my statement about my being, for being, whoever you are without judgement. You should maybe read all of my words, not just the one you want to take offense at. I am informed well enough.

        That is all I need to say, nor do I have further need to argue my point. Good night.

    • Peking_Duck_sd

      I don’t follow your logic. We are not talking about medical records here, we are talking about documents that prove someone’s current identity and citizenship. If someone identifies as a different gender, that is reality. If someone identifies non-biologically related people as their parents, that is reality.

      • Critifur

        We ARE talking about records, that is exactly what a birth certificate is, a record of birth. and any change to that record should be amended but not wholly changed.

        A document that proves identity is a driver’s license, state ID or passport, and those documents should reflect as closely as possible to what ever identity the holder claims at that time.

  • Peking_Duck_sd

    America is a diverse land, and we need a President who understands ALL citizens. The problem is not just that Christie vetoed this, but the dismissive and cavalier manner had when he did it. He thinks the rights of trans Americans are a joke. I wonder how many other groups of people Christe writes off as being non-important? It’s the same ignorant and dismissive attitude we saw with Huckabee when he made that creepy joke about wanting to shower with high school girls. It’s an inability to have any understanding of anyone different than themselves.

    • Barb C

      He’s dismissive and cavalier about many things. He’s a top notch jerk.

  • GayEGO

    And Chris Christie will be vetoed from the GOP candidates which is probably why he is trying to feel better by laughing at his veto.

  • zFashionizta

    I don’t get changing they persons gender on the birth certificate, my birth certificate states my sex not my gender, so if I transitioned F2M its a fact that my sex would still be Female, I’m realistic so I know its impossible to have chromosome assignment surgery.

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