Voter ID Laws and Trans People: Share Your Story

Photo by Liz West

Almost 20 state legislatures have passed, what we believe, are illegal laws restricting your right to vote. Because transgender people face disproportionate rates of unemployment and homelessness, they may experience barriers to meeting residency and identification requirements written into these laws. For these reasons, we fear that trans people may be inadvertently disenfranchised.

If you are a transgender person facing trouble voting, please fill out the form below and we will be in touch with you soon about how we’re addressing this growing problem.

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9 Responses to Voter ID Laws and Trans People: Share Your Story

  1. Scott says:

    I support LGBT people but I disagree with this because you need a goverment issued photo ID to drive and purchase alcohol. Why is it so hard to have one to vote? If you feel you were discriminated agienst that a compleatly seperate battle we should be fighting another way.

    • Nell Gaither says:

      Hi Scott,

      This is a question that many non-trans people might ask, so it is good that you bring it up.

      Unfortunately, government issued documentation such as photo IDs can be a quite a problem for trans persons. A person may identify as a man or masculine, but have an “F” for the sex/gender marker, and likewise, a person identifying as a woman or feminine may have an “M” for the sex/gender marker.

      In the descriptions of ID requirements that I’ve heard and read about, if in the opinion of the poll worker the appearance does not match the sex/gender marker on the ID, the poll worker can turn the person away for not providing an appropriate ID. I don’t know specifics about the residency requirements mentioned here.

      It is usually possible to obtain legal gender marker changes so that the documentation reflects one’s identity, but there are direct costs (from relatively inexpensive state IDs to more expensive passports) and indirect costs (the various costs to meet legal requirements for changing one’s gender marker) that can put documentation out of reach for many trans persons.

      Additionally, many trans people are placed at a severe economic disadvantage due to anti-trans stigma. We are unemployed at rates higher than the general population, we suffer from higher rates of poverty than the general population, and when we have work we tend to make substantially less than the general population at our education and skill level. For these reasons and general anti-trans bias, trans persons also experience homelessness at rates higher than the general population, which is likely the reason for noting residency requirements above.

      All these are factors affecting the ability of trans persons to meet requirements in these new voter ID laws.

      Under these new laws, it is highly likely that trans persons will be denied access to polls at rates higher than the general population. This is discrimination–legally sanctioned discrimination.

      So yes, to address your final statement, we can feel this is an effort to discriminate, it is part of the battle for equality. And a request like this to document the stories of those who have been turned away seems warranted as one means of documenting the effects of that discrimination.

      • Kathryn says:

        I was really lazy about changing my gender marker for several years, it was just something that was never an issue. Honestly, almost no one looks at gender markers on IDs. I was late paying my registration and got pulled over, the officer obviously didn’t look at the gender marker, because he checked female on the ticket. I really don’t think poll workers will be looking any closer than a law enforcement officer. These laws are problematic for reasons way beyond gender markers, so why don’t we focus on those issues.

  2. [...] has released a report, citing almost 20 states that have passed restrictive measures, making it difficult for transgender people to meet [...]

  3. Sam says:

    Kathryn,, it is great that you never had a problem with your ID. However, many other trans people have had problems. Before I was able to change my gender marker (due to expensive surgical requirements) but after I changed my name on my driver’s license, I was denied access to an Amtrak train, denied entry to locker rooms and had difficulty with school administration, all due to a mismatched gender marker. So yes, this is a HUGE problem for trans people and needs prioritization.

  4. Jacob says:

    I’m not transgendered but I’m not unsympathetic. However I feel to engage in the right to vote you SHOULD have to be able to positively ID yourself to the voting authorities. I don’t think its right for non-citizens to be able to vote or for persons to be able to vote multiple times. The easist way to do that is to require photo ID. Its not hard to do or get. It might be distastefull due to your personal preffrences but so are taxes. Deal.

  5. [...] Facebook: Discriminatory Voter ID laws may suppress trans voters, or disenfranchise them altogether. In order to address the problem, we need to hear from trans people who are having trouble voting. Please share your story here. http://transgenderequality.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/voter-id-laws-and-trans-people-share-your-story/ [...]

  6. [...] Facebook: Discriminatory Voter ID laws may suppress trans voters, or disenfranchise them altogether. In order to address the problem, we need to hear from trans people who are having trouble voting. Please share your story here. http://transgenderequality.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/voter-id-laws-and-trans-people-share-your-story/ [...]

  7. [...] Facebook: Discriminatory Voter ID laws may suppress trans voters, or disenfranchise them altogether. In order to address the problem, we need to hear from trans people who are having trouble voting. Please share your story here. http://transgenderequality.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/voter-id-laws-and-trans-people-share-your-story/ [...]

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