New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie apparently finds humor in his veto of a bill that would make it easier for transgender residents to change the gender marker on their birth certificate.
Christie vetoed the bill Monday, after having vetoed a similar one in 2014. The measure would have allowed trans people to make the change to their lived gender as long as they have certification from a doctor that they have undergone clinically appropriate transition treatment, which could include hormone therapy or other procedures and is not limited to surgery. Current law requires the person to have undergone surgery, which many transgender people cannot afford and others do not seek.
Regarding the veto, conservative radio host Medved asked Christie, “You have no compassion for the Caitlyn Jenners of this world?”
The governor responded, “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. … I have to tell the truth, Michael, there are certain things that just go beyond the pale, and that’s not what I wanted the law to be in New Jersey. 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.”
Medved observed that this position “sounds dangerously conservative,” and Christie could be heard chuckling.
According to many, though, such legislation is not “beyond the pale at all.” Nine states and the District of Columbia have adopted such policies, which are in line with current medical standards, and the Obama administration has a similar one for changing the gender marker on federal documents, such as passports and Social Security identification. Having documents that do not match their lived gender creates many problems for trans people.
Also, “the cavalier attitude with which Christie talks about the pro-trans legislation in his interview contrasts with his statement on Monday explaining his veto of the bill,” the Washington Blade notes. At that time he said he was concerned about the potential for fraud and abuse, and would consider future legislation that addressed those concerns.
T.J. Helmstetter, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, denounced Christie’s attitude. “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 told the Blade. “It’s beyond the pale that instead of finding ways to move New Jersey forward, Christie chuckles and pursues his presidential ambitions.”
The Human Rights Campaign also condemned Christie’s remarks. “It was bad enough that Governor Christie vetoed this bill. Now he has added insult to injury by demeaning the entire transgender community,” said HRC senior vice president of policy and political affairs JoDee Winterhof in a press release. “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.”