New laws could stop trans Americans from voting in election

Large numbers of transgender people might not be able to vote in November

New laws could stop trans Americans from voting in election
16 April 2012

Strict new voter ID laws may leave large numbers of transgender people unable to vote in the US general election this November.

A study published by the Williams Institute suggests transgender people will run into problems when presenting identification that no longer accurately reflects their gender, appearance or both.

It says that, as well as causing problems for transgender people when it comes to applying for employment and housing and interactions with police and government officials, not having the correct photo ID could prevent transgender people from voting.

The Williams Institute suggests that over 25,000 will come up against ‘substantial barriers’ and may not even be able to vote at all.

Nine states – Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin – have adopted the stricter photo ID laws.

'Transgender people who have transitioned face unique hurdles when acquiring or updating identification that would fulfill voter ID requirements because they must comply with the requirements for updating the name and gender on their state-issued or federally-issued IDs and records,' wrote the study’s author, Dr Jody L Herman.

'Requirements for updating state-issued IDs vary widely by state and can be difficult and costly. Federal requirements also vary by agency.'

The report’s data, from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, suggests that ‘40% of transgender citizens who have transitioned to live full-time don’t have an updated driver’s license’, with 74% having an outdated passport.

And 27% have no ID or documents that list their correct gender.

The report says that, on presenting ID that no longer accurately reflected their gender, 41% of respondents had been harassed, 15% had been asked to leave the venue where they’d used it and 3% had been assaulted or attacked.

It also suggests that transgender youth, people of color and those with low incomes or disabilities were more likely to have inaccurate identification.

You can read the Williams Institute’s complete report about voter ID laws and their affect on transgender voters in a PDF here.

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