On December 19, 2006, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq., was formally amended to expand sex-based protected classifications to include “gender identity or expression.” The law, which took effect less than one year ago on June 17, 2007, protects persons from discrimination or harassment based on their “gender identity or expression,” which is defined under the statute as “having or being perceived as having a gender related identity or expression whether or not stereotypically associated with a person’s assigned sex at birth.” This new classification seeks to protect individuals who hold a transgender status.
Broadly speaking, “transgender” is an umbrella term used to describe people whose gender identity or gender expression differs from that usually associated with their birth sex. “Transsexuals” are transgender individuals, who live as members of the opposite gender and who typically alter their physical appearance, either through the use of cosmetics or through medical intervention, such as hormone therapy and surgery, for purposes of resembling the opposite sex. “Transvestites” — also known as “cross-dressers” — are transgender individuals who wear or favor clothing associated with the opposite sex for sexual or entertainment gratification, but who are nonetheless content with their biological sex. The LAD previously only protected against sex discrimination, which is established by a person’s sexual anatomy as opposed to gender identity or expression, which relates to qualities of being masculine or feminine.
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