Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a declared candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, says he thinks transgender procedures on minors, including hormone blockers, should be allowed as long as a parent consents.
While governor of New Jersey, Christie signed into law a measure that allows self-identifying transgender minors to use the bathroom that accords with their professed gender identity. That proposal advanced amid national debate over whether transgender people should use opposite-sex bathrooms, particularly biological males using female bathrooms.
Now, a number of states have passed laws restricting access to transgender procedures for minors as the country has seen a sharp uptick in the number of youths who question their gender identity.
States with laws that limit transgender procedures include Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona. Similar legislation is pending, having been approved by at least one state legislative chamber, in Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Missouri, Kansas, and Wyoming. In total, 33 states have at least a pending bill addressing the topic.
Critics of transgender transitions by minors say minors aren’t developmentally equipped to make such decisions, arguing that the procedures used—double mastectomy, chemical or physical castration, and potentially sterilizing hormones and puberty blockers—are permanent and don’t take into account the prospect that a child may become more comfortable with their biological sex later in life. Supporters say these procedures are the most effective way to treat gender dysphoria, the subjective feeling that one’s “true” gender does not align with the gender they were “assigned” at birth.
Christie took a midline position on the issue, suggesting that he would allow the procedures as president but would emphasize the importance of parental involvement.
“Many Republican governors across the country have been banning hormone therapy and puberty blockers for transgender people under 18 years old,” anchor Jake Tapper said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“As governor of New Jersey, you signed into law some legal protections for trans people, including students. What do you make of your fellow Republican governors and candidates going in the opposite direction?”
Christie responded, “Jake, what I believe we should be focused on most importantly in these issues, is making sure there’s parental involvement and every step along the way.
“I don’t think that the government should ever be stepping into the place of the parents in helping to move their children through a process where those children are confused or concerned about their gender. And I just would say the parents are the people who are best positioned to make these judgments. And so what I’d like to make sure each state does is require that parents be involved in these decisions.
“The fact is, that folks who are under the age of 18 should have parental support and guidance and love as they make all of the key decisions of their life. And this should not be one that’s excluded by the government in any way.”
The comments put Christie at odds with some of his top rivals for the Republican nomination.
Former President Donald Trump, far and away the front-runner in current polling for the party’s nomination, has vowed to “defeat the cult of gender ideology” as a key plank of his 2024 platform. Trump has said that he would “protect children from left-wing gender insanity,” saying he would seek to punish doctors who perform such procedures on minors.
“No serious country should be telling its children that they were born with the wrong gender,” Trump said. “Under my leadership, this madness will end.”
The controversy has also been a pet issue for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who’s Trump’s closest competitor in various polls.
Last year, DeSantis signed a law—dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by its critics, despite no overt reference to any gender identity or sexual orientation—preventing teachers from discussing controversial ideas of sexuality and gender in the classroom with children younger than 10 years old.
More recently, DeSantis signed into law a comprehensive package that limits access to transgender procedures and opposite-sex bathrooms.
That bill sought to define biological sex, describing a female as “a person belonging, at birth, to the biological sex which has the specific reproductive role of producing eggs” and a male as “a person belonging, at birth, to the biological sex which has the specific reproductive role of producing sperm.”
Christie’s position, while it may appeal to some independents, could put the candidate in conflict with the prevailing attitude of voters within his party.