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RWJ Somerset Dedicates Babs Siperstein PROUD Center

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, celebrated the renaming of its PROUD Family Health in memory of transgender activist Barbra “Babs” Casbar Siperstein at a special celebration Oct. 30 at the Palace at Somerset Park attended by Governor Phil Murphy. The event was presented by Garden State Equality, Sanofi and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

“As a trailblazer in the area of LGBTQ+ health, we are excited to carry the name of another trailblazer – Babs Siperstein – who was a tireless advocate in advancing LGBTQ+ rights,” said Tony Cava, president and chief executive officer, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset. “We will continue her legacy by providing a safe space where everyone can get the health care they need and is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve – regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.”

PROUD Family Health, which opened in 2017, was the first in New Jersey to provide specialized primary care services for the LGBTQ+ community. Its services include hormone therapy and monitoring; HIV care; referrals for specialty services; health education and counseling. The center recently moved to new space on the hospital’s campus with additional staff and is open five days per week. The hospital also offers a monthly support group for family members of transgender individuals.

Siperstein, a native of Jersey City, became the first openly transgender member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) when she was appointed in 2009. She served on the DNC’s executive committee from 2011 to 2017 and was a superdelegate for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in 2016.

Siperstein’s influence in the LGBTQ community earned her the top ranking in Insider NJ’s OUT 100 Power List in 2018. She was the former vice president of Garden State Equality and former political director for Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey. In addition, she served as a board member of the New Jersey Stonewall Democrats and deputy vice chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. She led efforts to include transgender rights in legislation concerning anti-bullying, bias crimes and employment, housing and public accommodations non-discrimination as well as advocated for a ban on conversion therapy and ending discrimination in health care.

In 2018, shortly before Siperstein’s death at age 76, New Jersey passed legislation in her name allowing residents to change their gender on their birth certificate without providing proof of gender-confirming surgery.

During the event, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset also honored three LGBTQ+ advocates with special awards:

  • Garden State Equality, which was presented with the Babs Siperstein Advocacy Award. Established in 2004, Garden State Equality is the largest LGBTQ advocacy organization in New Jersey and one of the most successful statewide civil rights organizations for the LGBTQ community in the nation. Its services include advocacy, policy work and training programs.
  • Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, who was presented with the Babs Siperstein Inspiring Progress Award. Sen. Weinberg, representing the 37th legislative district, has been a leading voice for LGBT rights throughout her nearly 30-year career in the New Jersey legislature. She co-sponsored the Babs Siperstein Law, which went into effect earlier this year, allowing New Jerseyans to change their gender identity on their birth certificate without “proof of surgery.”
  • Sanofi North America Inclusion & Diversity and Equal Employment Department, which was presented with the Babs Siperstein Corporate Pride Award. Based in Bridgewater, Sanofi has been nationally recognized by DiversityInc as one of its “Top Companies for LGBT Employees” based on its efforts to hire, retain and promote LGBT individuals.

For more information about the PROUD Family Health, visit www.rwjbh.org/somerset.