New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie hasn’t always been supportive when it comes to transgender people’s concerns, but now he’s said he’d be unlikely to sign an anti-trans “bathroom bill” like the ones recently passed in North Carolina and Mississippi.
“It strikes me as not something I’d sign here in New Jersey,” Christie, a former Republican presidential candidate, said at a news conference at Rutgers University Friday, reports NJ.com, a website for several New Jersey newspapers. “But I don’t know all the specifics of it. So I don’t want to assail another piece of legislation I haven’t even read.”
“But the sense of what I’ve read from what you all have written about it is that it’s not something I would support here,” he continued.
Christie was asked about the North Carolina law a day after Donald Trump said on the Today show that he’d support letting transgender people use the restrooms of their choice. But Trump, whom Christie endorsed for president after ending his own campaign, quickly walked back the comment and said the issue of restroom access should be up to cities and states.
North Carolina’s law, House Bill 2, bars transgender people from using the restrooms, locker rooms, and other single-sex facilities that match their gender identity, if those facilities are in government buildings, including public schools. It also nullifies LGBT-inclusive municipal antidiscrimination ordinances, while preventing cities and counties from enacting new ones; it was aimed particularly at blocking a public accommodations ordinance passed in Charlotte. It further prohibits residents from filing discrimination suits in state court and bars municipalities from setting a higher minimum wage than the state’s.
Last December, Christie appeared to have a different perspective on trans people's restroom access, saying that allowing people to use the facilities that comport with their gender identity would be confusing to children. In New Jersey, "Men go to men's rooms, women go to women's rooms," he told CNN. "And there really shouldn't be a whole lot of confusion about that — public accommodations. And I don't think we should be making life more confusing for our children."
Christie also twice vetoed legislation that would have made it easier for transgender people in his state to change the gender on their birth certificates. Current New Jersey law requires the person to have undergone specific surgery, which many trans people cannot afford and others do not seek; the bills vetoed by Christie would have allowed for the change as long as a person has 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. The governor cited concerns about fraud in vetoing the measures, but famously laughed about the matter in a 2015 radio interview, in which he also called the legislation “beyond the pale.”
On the plus side, Christie signed a bill that made New Jersey only the second state to bar licensed professionals from subjecting minors to so-called conversion therapy; such therapy aims to turn an LGBT person straight or cisgender. California was the first state to do so, and Illinois, Oregon, the District of Columbia, and the city of Cincinnati have followed suit. He has also said he opposes "religious liberty" laws that provide a way for businesses to discriminate against LGBT people.