Tag Archive: ACLU

Fight to Keep Neighbors From Being Deported Now, Vote for Policy Change in November

Yesterday, local and state legislators, as well as attorneys from the NJ ACLU gathered in Metuchen to celebrate a stay of deportation for three valued members of their community. One of them, Harry Pangamanan, was recently honored by the town…
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You wanna go out and get coffee today?

So, I’m headed out to coffee in Lambertville today – because the coffee-focused website Sprudge is awesome. They saw the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) out front defending refugee and immigrant families, and they – who are non-partisan, not political and really just obsessed…
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A Victory for Transgender Vets and Hope for Open Service

Cross-posted with TG Forum. Babs is a well-known advocate, and longtime friend of Blue Jersey. For those who don’t know, she is also the first, and highest-ranking, out transgender person ever to serve the DNC. Promoted by Rosi.

In the last couple of weeks, Transgender American Veterans celebrated a big victory and trans Americans in the military, and all trans people got another glimmer of hope that the stigma of not being able to serve might be gone in the foreseeable future.

First, on November 24, two New Jersey-based transgender veterans represented by the ACLU of New Jersey were notified that they won a victory in a battle to change their names on a key military identification document, with implications for transgender veterans throughout the country. The Army Board for Correction of Military Records agreed to change the names of the two veterans on their “DD-214 Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty” forms, principal documents for any action requiring proof of veteran’s status.


Why Transgender Vets Can’t Get Military Benefits

Trans veterans much more likely to suffer discrimination than non trans civilians. NJ decorated war vet has a new mission.

As we know, Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” did nothing to allow transgender people to serve in the military. But, as the spotlight of LGBT rights shines on the recent progress of lesbians and gays, it also highlights all the areas where transgender people are left behind.

In 2012, a Bilerico blog highlighted the story of a trans woman, Sergeant Major Jennifer Long , a decorated war hero who was promoted to E-9, the highest enlisted pay grade, who was awarded a Bronze Star and a “French National Defense Medal” remarkably while serving in “stealth” in the middle of her transition as a woman.


But that was just the beginning of her story, her mission to really accomplish things to help her fellow Americans, her fellow veterans and her fellow transpeople.

Well, she got that job in New Jersey in the financial sector, made a commitment to be active in LGBT political advocacy and also in veterans affairs, working for all veterans, and was recently elected Post Commander of her VFW Post. As impressive as that may sound, she was not the first transperson elected “Commander” of a VFW post. That distinction belongs to another “Jersey Girl,” another Jennifer, and friend and warrior,  Jennifer Denklau, who retired to Northern Arizona and was elected Commander in 2010.

One of the greatest challenges to transgender people is the documentation of our being in our modern data driven gender binary society. Most all trans people need change their names, we need to change our gender on documents to match our actual gender identity, our true selves.

We’ve actually come a long way with the Federal government.  The Obama Administration has overseen changing  gender markers for Social Security, and under Secretary Hillary Clinton the State Department has made common sense rules for changing the gender markers on US Passports. Although the Veteran’s Adminsitration has made some accommodations to recognize and respect trans veterans, roadblocks still remain.

Here in New Jersey I worked with State officials in 2009 to modernize and simplify the procedure to change the gender markers on NJ Drivers Licenses. It was a success as it worked for our drivers as well as our Motor Vehicle Commission. In 2013 I recruited Jennifer for our task force to pass legislation to modernize the policy and procedures to change the gender markers on our birth certificates. While working on that she was inspired to take the lead with the ACLU on another mission, to change the gender marker on the basic military ID form the DD214.

National Public Radio has picked up her story and the real life reasons for needing to make the changes.


I just want to emphasize that perhaps 150,000 or more vets are affected and the acknowleged FACT that transpeople serve in the US Military at a significantly higher percentage than the general population.

Jennifer summed it up well, “You faced the enemies of the United States,” … “What a shame that you have to hide that service because you’re afraid of someone’s perception of you.”