New voter ID laws will likely make it more difficult for more than 25,000 transgender voters to cast a ballot in the November elections, according to a study released by the Williams Institute.
Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin have all passed laws requiring voters to present a government-issued photo identification before casting a ballot. But the laws impose unique barriers on transgender individuals, since many do not have an updated identification -- such as a driver’s license -- that lists their correct gender.
“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."
According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), 40 percent of transgender citizens who have transitioned reported not having an updated driver’s license and 74 percent did not have an updated U.S. passport.
Ethnic minorities, youth, students, those with low incomes, and those with disabilities were less likely to have updated identification than other transgender individuals.
In addition, 40 percent of transgender individuals reported being harassed after presenting identification that didn’t accurately reflect their gender.
“As election officials in these states begin planning for their fall elections, this research highlights the importance of educating poll workers in order to ensure that transgender voters in their states have fair access to the ballot,” said Herman.
[Image via Kenji-Baptiste OIKAWA, Creative Commons licensed]