Chris Christie has bucked the trend for Republicans by signing two pro-trans bills into law.
The embattled Governor of New Jersey, who faces a Democratic-controlled state legislature, took aback many of his party colleagues with the announcement last week.
While Republicans across the country have pushed anti-LGBT legislation aimed at rolling back transgender rights, Christie signed a bill enshrining vital protections into law.
One of the new laws seeks to establish a “supportive and nondiscriminatory environment” for transgender children in New Jersey’s schools, establishing a clear non-discrimination policy and making sure that trans kids are treated in accordance with their gender identity.
The second law is targeted at healthcare provisions, and prohibits health insurers and medical practitioners from refusing service or coverage to someone because they are transgender.
According to ThinkProgress, it comes after a New Jersey Catholic hospital refused to carry out a hysterectomy procedure on a transgender man on the grounds of religion. The procedure is routinely carried out on cisgender women.
Crucially, the new protections also prevent insurers from treating being transgender as a pre-existing condition, which secured more affordable healthcare.
By putting pen to paper on the laws, Christie takes a divergent path to other Republican Governors. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott has splashed out on a special legislature session in order to railroad through anti-trans laws.
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In contrast, Christie has said he would likely refuse to sign into law any anti-trans ‘bathroom bill’.
Referring to North Carolina’s car crash anti-trans law, he said: “It strikes me as not something I’d sign here in New Jersey. But I don’t know all the specifics of it.”
Christie has made other moderate concessions on LGBT rights in the past – refusing to waste money defending a gay marriage ban, opposing anti-LGBT ‘religious freedom’ laws, and signing a law to ban ‘gay cure’ therapy.
When a court ruled in favour of equal marriage, Christie – who had battled against the ruling – said: “The Governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his Administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court.”
He was branded a ‘traitor’ by the anti-LGBT movement.
Brian Brown of the National Organisation for Marriage said at the time: “The mark of a leader is to walk a principled walk no matter the difficulty of the path.
“Chris Christie has failed the test, abandoning both voters and the core institution of society – marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
“Governor Christie’s decision to surrender on marriage reveals him to be a man who lacks the courage of his supposed convictions.
“As far as we are concerned, it’s a disqualifying failure. His surrender on marriage effectively surrenders any chance he might have had to secure the GOP nomination for president.”