Up to 34,000 transgender people in the United States could face problems voting in next month’s election because their ID cards do not match their gender, advocacy groups said, urging them to vote by mail to avoid being turned away at the polls. Transgender rights have come under increasing scrutiny in the United States with access to public bathrooms and health care dominating media coverage and political discourse in recent months. Thousands of transgender people, however, might be unable to vote in the November 8 presidential election in states with stringent voter ID laws, according to a report by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. “A transgender voter may show up at the poll with a valid ID, however if they have not been able to update the gender marker or photo on that ID, a poll worker may be confused and refuse them a ballot,” said Arli Christian, spokeswoman for the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE).
Approximately 24,000 transgender citizens do not have the proper identification to comply with certain states’ strict voter ID laws, leaving them vulnerable to significant barriers at the polls and possibly disenfranchisement this November, a new study from the Williams Institute has found. According to the report, the 10 states where transgender voters stand to face the toughest challenges this election cycle include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Most of those states have passed photo ID requirements – the strictest kind of voter identification law – which call for citizens to present a specific type of government-issued photo ID before casting a ballot. For some with gender dysphoria, a condition in which there is a marked difference between a person’s expressed or experienced gender and the gender others would assign him or her, updating state-issued IDs can be prohibitively difficult and costly.
As a Nepalese transgender dancer in her twenties, Nazia Shilalik says her gender has cost her jobs, respect and soon, she believes, it will cost her a vote in upcoming elections. Transgenders had high hopes six years ago when Nepal’s Supreme Court approved third gender citizenship — part of a judgment that ordered the government to enact laws to guarantee the rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. But now the fundamental human rights changes that transgenders anticipated look elusive because of a lack of documentation proving their identity. “I would love to (vote), but I know I will not get the chance because I am a transgender person,” said Shilalik. Despite the landmark ruling, the vast majority of transgender people in Nepal are still waiting to obtain vital documentation officially recognising their third sex gender.