Tens of thousands of transgender Americans may be barred from voting in the midterms — and it may keep Congress red
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 21, 2017: Transgender pride flag waving in the wind during a protest against white supremacy and discrimination after the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Image via Michael Moloney/Shutterstock.

According to a new study, as many as 78,000 transgender Americans may have difficulty voting in the 2018 midterm elections due to strict voter ID laws that require photo identification cards where one's name and gender marker match their presentation.

Washington, D.C.'s Metro Weekly reported that the study was conducted by the Williams Institute, an LGBT think tank run by the University of California-Los Angeles law school.

Researchers at Williams estimated that there are 137,000 transgender people living in Indiana, Wisconsin, Kansas, Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia — states where "poll workers require voters to provide a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, U.S. passport, or military ID, in order to cast a ballot."

Of those 137,000 people in those eight states, 57 percent or 78,000 people do not have updated identification that accurately represents their gender identity. In many cases, acquiring updated IDs is difficult for people during gender transition.

"Transgender people who have transitioned often face substantial challenges to obtaining accurate identification,” Jody Herman, lead author of the study and public policy scholar at Williams, said. “Requirements for updating the name and gender on official IDs that could be used for voting vary widely by state and federal agency, and the process can be difficult and expensive.”

In Alabama, Metro's report continued, 70 percent of transgender people lack updated IDs because the state requires people to "obtain both a court order and provide proof that they have undergone gender confirmation surgery in order to change the gender markers" before they can be issued a new photo ID card.

A number of competitive Congressional seats are up for grabs in those eight states, the report noted, and "turning away transgender people from the polls could impact crucial races this fall." Both Senate seats are up for re-election in Indiana, Wisconsin, Virginia, Tennessee and Mississippi, and Wisconsin, Virginia, Kansas and Georgia all have competitive House races as well.