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N.J. appoints first openly transgender Cabinet member

Allison Chris Myers will become the first openly transgender Cabinet member in New Jersey history.
New Jersey Office of the Governor
Allison Chris Myers will become the first openly transgender Cabinet member in New Jersey history.

Allison Chris Myers will become the first openly transgender person in state history to serve as a Cabinet member in New Jersey.

This week, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Myers’ appointment as Chair of the Civil Services Commission, effective January 1. Myers, a Cumberland County resident, has worked for the Commission since 2001 and is a U.S. Navy veteran.

The Commission oversees appeals filed by state, county, and municipal civil service employees, candidates for employment, and appointing authorities, according to its website.

“It is important that the leadership in this state reflect the communities we serve, and I am looking forward to working with Allison to determine how we can better serve our state workforce,” Murphy said in a statement.

Myers’ appointment is progress for the greater transgender community, said Damien Alan Lopez, a Newark-based transgender author and project manager for Garden State Equality — one of the state’s largest LGBTQ rights advocacy groups.

“The only way to really know what our community needs is getting our community into the room where these decisions can be made,” Lopez said. “It also gives a lot of youth opportunity to say, ‘hey, if they made it to that position, then what's stopping me from getting there one day.’”

Lopez said he believes New Jersey is one of the most progressives states in the nation on trans issues, citing policies like robust anti-bullying protections, the state’s LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum, and a recent executive order by Murphy making the process for changing someone’s name confidential.

Previously, people who changed their name had to publish that information in the newspaper, and Lopez said the old policy made the process difficult for many transgender and non-binary people.

“For those individuals who are targeted for who they are, or targeted, specifically, because of transitioning or navigating through that process, it is important that Gov. Murphy has seen and heard what individuals may be experiencing as they navigate through it,” Lopez said.

Lopez said, although progress has been made, the state can do more to help people in the community, like cultivating more safe spaces for transgender people. He would also like the state to consider proposals preventing parents and doctors from making certain health decisions for children and youth born with intersex conditions without the child’s consent.

The Human Rights Campaign has ranked New Jersey as one of the more “innovative” states as it relates to policies prioritizing the needs of the LGBTQ community.