Governor Murphy Signs Executive Order Mandating Confidentiality of Name Change Order

TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy today signed Executive Order No. 311, exempting all name change orders filed with the New Jersey Department of Treasury after 1948 from the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) and requiring the Treasury treats all such name change orders as confidential. The Executive Order signed today, during Transgender Awareness Week, furthers the Governor’s commitment to support and protect the LGBTQIA+ community.

“Changing a person’s name can be a critical step in gender transition or affirmation of their gender identity, but many who wish to change their name have legitimate security and privacy concerns with legal record keeping of his name change. said Governor Murphy. “I am proud to sign an executive order today during Transgender Awareness Week that will help protect privacy and support New Jerseyans who want to change their names without fearing for their safety.”

In addition to signing Executive Order No. 311, Governor Murphy has partnered with members of the Legislature to lower additional barriers to name change. Currently, after obtaining a name change order from the court, a person must file the order with Treasury’s Division of Revenue and Business Services and pay a $50 fee. This week, the Legislature introduced a bill (S3332/A4888) to waive the fee. Major sponsors of the bill include Senator Joseph Vitale and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano.

“I am also proud to work with our legislative partners to reduce the financial impediments to changing one’s name,” Governor Murphy continued. “In our state, we are committed to ensuring that affordability does not get in the way of someone’s desire to express their identity. We will continue to build a stronger and more just New Jersey where every individual has the right to live their truth openly and freely.”

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“With transgender rights under fire across the country, New Jersey continues to lead the way in protecting and supporting all members of the LGBTQIA community.” said Senator Joe Vitale, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens. “Today’s executive order, along with the legislation we are introducing, will alleviate security concerns and remove financial barriers for those seeking to change their name.”

“There are many reasons why people choose to change their names. For members of the transgender community, the decision to change one’s name is often empowering and affirming one’s identity, but the process of doing so legally can be a burden.” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano. “This legislation will allow us to remove a financial barrier that currently stands in the way of New Jerseyans planning to change their names. No matter the reasoning behind a resident’s decision, all New Jerseyans deserve the opportunity to accept who they are and live authentically.”

In 2021, the New Jersey Supreme Court amended its rules to exclude all records in name change actions from public access. EO 311 will align Treasury practice with that of the Judiciary. Although EO 311 mandates that name change orders be kept confidential, exceptions exist when the applicant is the person who changed their name, their parent or guardian (when that person is a minor), or when good cause is shown.

“Legal name changes are critical in the gender affirmation process,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. “We applaud Governor Murphy for taking this step to ensure that someone’s personal travel is kept confidential and cannot be accessed by any member of the public. New Jersey continues to lead the nation in LGBTQ equality by being one of the first states to implement this protective measure.”

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“We at the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice applaud our dear friend and stalwart ally, Governor Murphy, as he takes this direct action to recognize and respect members of our transgender/non-binary/gender non-conforming community.” . said Robt Martin Seda-Schreiber, senior activist with the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice. “The dual difficulties of financial consideration and the need for anonymity are often obstacles to our queer people asserting who they are and who they have always been. Eradicating these barriers is an impactful step in allowing everyone to continue an important and especially meaningful personal journey during Transgender Awareness Week, which celebrates how far we’ve come, but also absolutely recognizes how far we still have to go.”

“With the increasing acts of violence against people of diverse genders, it is essential to protect the identity of those who have changed their name as part of their transition. We commend the Governor’s commitment to help ensure the safety and well-being of transgender and gender diverse communities.” said Laurie Litt, executive director of EDGE NJ.

“It is important to address a person who identifies as a certain gender by the name they have chosen, whether they have taken hormones or had surgery, they should be referred to by the name of the gender with which they identify without refusal”, said RAIN LGBT Foundation Executive Director Elaine Helms. “I am pleased that Governor Murphy has implemented an EO to ensure that those seeking name changes are kept confidential. This is a much-needed security precaution for the LGBTQ+IA community. Thank you, Governor Murphy, for your continued support in making this a safe state for all human beings.”

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For a copy of Executive Order No. 311, click on here.