In 2018, New Jersey established a Transgender Equality Task Force to assess the legal and societal barriers to transgender equality and provide recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature on how to ensure equality and improve the lives of transgender people.
The Task Force consists of 17 members, bringing together representative from state agencies, as well as legal and medical professionals who specialize in transgender equality and care, transgender advocates and parent advocates, and three community organizations: Garden State Equality, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, and The Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey. Additionally, per the statute, the Division on Civil Rights is providing staffing to the Task Force.
The Task Force first met in March 2019 and, over the course of six months, will conduct research, collect public comment, hold community hearings, and prepare a report for the Governor and the Legislature outlining its recommendations for advancing transgender equality in New Jersey.
Transgender people face considerable challenges in society, including discrimination, harassment, physical abuse, and social isolation. Transgender people also face considerable barriers in healthcare, education, employment, and other areas of public life. As a result, transgender people can experience significant health disparities.
When the New Jersey legislature approved the Transgender Equality Task Force, its decision was supported by the findings of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, which was the largest survey examining the experiences of transgender people in the United States.
According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, an anonymous online survey of over 27,000 transgender adults, 10 percent of respondents who were out to their families reported that they had experienced violence from a family member due to their being transgender, while eight percent of respondents reported that they were forced to leave the family home because they were transgender. Nearly 30 percent of survey respondents reported that they had been homeless at some point in their lives.
One third of survey respondents who saw a health care provider in the year preceding the survey reported having a negative experience related to being transgender, including being refused treatment, verbal harassment, physical or sexual assault, or having to educate the provider in order to get appropriate care.
Transgender individuals are more likely to experience physical violence than those who are not transgender when interacting with law enforcement.
Despite federal legal protections, transgender students nonetheless face daily challenges in accessing the full array of educational, social, athletic, and after-school activities that are available to students who are not transgender.
More than 75 percent of survey respondents experienced some form of mistreatment, including physical or sexual assault, between kindergarten and grade 12, due to their being out or being perceived as transgender.
Nearly one quarter of survey respondents who were out or perceived as being transgender in college or vocational school reported being verbally, physically, or sexually harassed.
Transgender individuals are disproportionately unemployed due to discrimination, and as a result, their circumstances may be rendered even more difficult by poverty, which survey respondents reported experiencing at more than twice the rate as is experienced in the general U.S. population.
Because of the myriad difficulties faced by transgender individuals in the course of their daily lives, as detailed above, they are subject to severe psychological distress.
Given the wide array of challenges facing the transgender community, the Task Force is focusing on several critical areas to improve the quality of life for transgender New Jerseyans, including:
The Task Force is planning a number of community meetings throughout New Jersey during the month of July to allow for individuals to share their concerns with the Task Force. These events will be open to the public.
To better understand the needs of transgender New Jerseyans, the Task Force is also collecting public comment via email.
The Task Force is looking for New Jerseyans to share their personal experiences about being transgender and what legal or societal barriers they have or are currently facing in their day-to-day life.
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