Barbra “Babs” Siperstein, a longtime trans advocate who recently had a New Jersey law named after her, said the gesture makes her feel like a “first-class citizen.”
“I truly feel like a first-class citizen with the enactment of this law,” Siperstein told PGN. “And the icing on the cake is having it named after me.”
N.J. Senate Bill 478 allows trans people born in the state to obtain birth certificates that accurately reflect their gender without undergoing gender-confirmation surgery. The bill was passed by the New Jersey Senate June 7 and signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy on July 2.
Siperstein, 75, said she was “humbled” to be present with family and friends at the bill-signing ceremony. “I’m very pleased,” she said. “I wanted to have a bill-signing ceremony and it happened.”
The new law provides an option for a “non-binary” designation on a trans birth certificate, which only three other states allow.
“I believe New Jersey is setting an example for other states — certainly for other progressive states and possibly for people in less-progressive states that are open to trans rights,” Siperstein said.
Murphy gave her the pen he used to sign the legislation.
“I’m saving the pen,” Siperstein said. “Right now, it’s in a curio cabinet with political memorabilia. I intend to frame it and have it prominently displayed in my residence.”
She pointed out that Murphy also signed two other trans-related bills during the ceremony. One allows for death certificates in New Jersey to accurately reflect the gender of a trans decedent. The other creates a statewide transgender-rights task force, on which Siperstein hopes to serve.
“It was a wonderful day,” she said. “I’ve always been treated well by the governor and the bill-signing ceremony was no exception. The outpouring of support and congratulations stemming from this honor has been deeply gratifying.”
Aaron Potenza, director of programs for Garden State Equality, said he worked behind the scenes with N.J. Assemblywoman Valerie V. Huttle and her staff to draft the language for the bill, including adding a non-binary option. Potenza was unable to attend the bill-signing ceremony due to a prior commitment, but said he was “with Babs in spirit.”
“Babs is a fantastic advocate who has been a mentor and friend to a generation of trans activists,” Potenza said. “We are all thrilled that the bill was named for her. I can think of no one more deserving of the honor.”