Voter ID Requirements and Transgender Americans

Five days out from the election and voter ID laws are in effect in 31 states. 8 states have what are considered to be the strictest of all the voter ID laws in the country, and it is estimated they will disenfranchise millions, including 34,000 transgender voters who lack an identification that corresponds with their gender identity.

“If a transgender individual does not closely resemble the picture that is on the photo ID, it can be quite an onerous process to a get a new ID,” says Sean Young, an attorney for the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “If there is a gender marker on the ID which does not reflect the transgender person’s true gender, depending on the laws of the state, they may have to get their gender officially recognized by the government, which can be complicated.”

While someone’s gender expression not matching the gender marker or photo on their government ID does not invalidate that document, bias and discrimination on the part of poll workers could cause them to prevent a transgender person from voting. There is no standard operating procedure for how poll workers handle these cases, potentially deterring many transgender people from risking the social transphobia associated with exercising a constitutional right.

These are the problems a person with a permitted ID could confront while voting; there are 21 million Americans who will be disenfranchised this election because they lack any acceptable government-issued photo ID. That is 11 percent of US citizens. The majority of these people are low-income, people of color, and the elderly, who are hindered for a number of reasons, including lacking the necessary funds needed to obtain the documents required to secure an ID.

Young continues, “If you are a marginalized person, almost all of your interactions with the government are negative. The one interaction that should be pure, that should not be tainted by any kind of discrimination, is voting.”

The supporters of voter ID laws have been unable to prove that voter fraud exists on even a minor statistically significant scale.


Broadly 11/2/16; National Center for Transgender Equality 10/15/14; ACLU.

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