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PASSAGES Transgender activist 'Babs' Siperstein dies
2019-02-04

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Barbra "Babs" Siperstein—the first openly transgender member of the Democratic National Committee ( DNC )—has died at 76, according to PIX11.com .

Siperstein served on the DNC's Executive Committee from 2011 to 2017.

Also importantly, Siperstein was the namesake of a recently enacted law that allows New Jersey transgender residents to change their genders on their birth certificates.

The statute allows the registrar to amend birth certificates based on how people identify themselves, as male, female or undesignated. Previous law allowed birth certificate changes only if a doctor certified that a person's gender was surgically changed.

LGBTQ Victory Fund Senior Political Director Sean Meloy—who served as the DNC's director of LGBTQ engagement while Siperstein was on the executive committee—said in a statement, "For so many in the Democratic Party, Babs was the first openly trans person they ever met and she undoubtably changed the hearts and minds of many party leaders who were not yet committed to trans equality.

"She was a constant advocate for the entire LGBTQ community and helped make the Democratic Party more accepting not just of trans people, but trans candidates as well. Her presence in the DNC helped prepare the party and pave the way for trailblazing trans Democratic candidates like Danica Roem and Christine Hallquist—and her impact will be felt for years to come."

A 2012 LGBT History Month profile of Siperstein is at www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Barbra-Casbar-Siperstein-Breaking-ground-in-NJ-nationally/39856.html .

* * *

DNC on the Passing of Barbra "Babs" Siperstein

From a press release

DNC Chair Tom Perez released the following statement after the passing of Barbra "Babs" Siperstein, who served as the first openly transgender member of the Democratic National Committee:

"We are deeply saddened by the passing of Babs Siperstein. Babs was a lifelong activist and a trailblazer for transgender people and the entire LGBTQ community. At last year's signing of the bill that bears her name, Babs said she first got involved in politics because she saw LGBTQ people being treated as second and third-class citizens, and she resolved to do something about it. Today, thanks to her tireless courage, transgender New Jerseyans can now update the gender identity on their birth certificate without proof of surgery. The Babs Siperstein Law also makes New Jersey the fourth state in the country to add a non-binary birth certificate option.

"Babs devoted her life to fighting for equality, and the DNC will carry on her legacy by continuing that fight every day. Just last year, the DNC passed historic new rules expanding the definition of gender in delegate selection and caucus participation rules to better include gender non-binary and non-conforming Democrats. Our party and our country are stronger because of Babs's leadership. And our hearts go out to her family, her friends, and all those who had the fortune of fighting alongside her."

MORE ON DNC GENDER RULE CHANGES

New rules, passed first by the Rules and Bylaws Committee and subsequently by the full body of the Democratic National Committee, will update the existing DNC rules and bylaws to be inclusive of gender non-conforming Democrats. Prior rules required an equivalent number of self-identified men and women in DNC membership, committees, Vice Chairs, and presidential delegations. Additionally, some state caucuses required caucus-goers to declare male or female upon voting. The language adopted expands the definition of gender to ensure that gender non-conforming Democrats have the opportunity to freely identify without risk of being wrongly identified.


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