Chris Christie is not known for his sensitivity.
The tough guy governor has a particularly weak history on equal rights for trans individuals. In his New Jersey, these people just complicate and confuse everything.
In a winding, somewhat perplexing answer to a question at a New Hampshire campaign stop on Monday, Christie said that giving trans children the right to choose a bathroom where they are most comfortable would just lead to “confusion.”
In his New Jersey, Christie said “men go to men’s rooms, women go to women’s rooms, 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.”
He used this as a launching pad for his recent fear-mongering rhetoric, claiming that kids are confused enough these days in the face of ever-present terrorism.
“Life is confusing enough right now for our children,” Christie pivoted. “Think about those kids in Los Angeles who last week had their entire district closed because of a threat. Think about what they felt like the next day when they went back to school. Did they feel completely comfortable, did they feel like they were safe? How did their mothers and fathers feel when they sent them to school that day?”
Christie’s campaign did not respond to a request for clarification on this statement.
But this isn’t the first time that Christie has shrugged off the idea that trans people should be afforded equal rights like bathroom choice.
Despite mostly gravitating away from domestic issues, as he tries to position himself as a strong national security expert (something that is more opportunistic than realistic), Christie has made a point to emphasize his willful ignorance in the past.
In August, Christie vetoed a bill, for the second time, which would have allowed trans individuals to change their gender identity on their birth certificates without having to undergo sex reassignment surgery first.
Hormone therapy would have sufficed as a prerequisite for the change under the proposed legislation. When Christie was asked about his veto during an appearance on The Michael Medved Show at the time, he was characteristically blase.
“[The bill was] for people who do not have a sex change operation,” Christie said when Medved asked if he had “compassion for the Caitlyn Jenners of the world.”
“All the bill required was that somebody would seek a doctor’s treatment and that that doctor would verify that in fact that they felt like the opposite gender.”
He also promised that if the bill ever came across his desk again, Christie would not give it a second look.
“I have to tell you the truth, Michael, you know, there’s certain things that just go beyond the pale,” Christie said. “It doesn’t make any sense to me and that’s why I vetoed it again, and if they send it to me again I will veto it again.”
Christie later laughed when Medved said that stance sounded “dangerously conservative.”
The first time he vetoed the bill, in January 2014, Christie said he was concerned about it leading to “fraud, deception and abuse.”
“Proposed measures that revise the standards for the issuance of amended birth certificates may result in significant legal uncertainties and create opportunities for fraud, deception, and abuse, and should therefore be closely scrutinized and sparingly approved,” Christie wrote in his veto statement.
His staunch roadblocking of the bill makes New Jersey a slightly more difficult place to live for trans individuals than neighboring New York. Trans residents in the Empire State (with the noticeable exclusion of New York City) were able to change their birth certificates without a sex reassignment operation as of June 2014. New York City followed suit in December of that year.
Now 10 states, plus Washington, D.C., have amended their policies on birth certificate changes in order to accommodate trans people.
The New Jersey state Senate is doing what it can to try and override Christie’s veto to make it clear to him that the Garden State should join their ranks.