How Voter ID Laws Impact Transgender People

The passage of strict voter ID laws has been widely discussed for their impact on black and Latino voters, elderly and student voters, women and those with low incomes. As many as five million people have been estimated as likely to lose their voting rights because of the laws.

But there is another impacted group: transgender people.

A new report, ‘The Potential Impact of Voter Identification Laws on Transgender Voters‘ [PDF], by the Williams Institute at UCLA’s law school, says that up to 25,000 transgender Americans could be effected.

Transgender citizens have everyday problems obtaining and updating any identification cards — and this includes when they have to deal with the government.

The National Transgender Discrimination Survey shows that 22% of respondents said they had been denied equal treatment by a government agency or official, with another 22% saying they had been harassed or disrespected in the same setting. 41% said that when they presented their non-gender-matching ID when asked to show it — at, for example, a bar or an airport — they were harassed, some reported being even attacked or assaulted.

Only 59% of survey respondents had been able to update their gender on their driver’s license or state ID; 49% their Social Security Record; 26% their passport; and just 24% their birth certificate.

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) says:

The survey results … confirmed what most trans people already knew — that gender incongruent identification exposes people to a range of negative outcomes, from denial of employment, housing, and public benefits to harassment and physical violence.

Historically, state and federal governments have imposed intrusive and burdensome requirements — such as proof of surgery and court orders — that have made it impossible for many trans people to obtain accurate and consistent ID. For many people financial barriers, medical contraindications or the simple lack of medical need for surgeries make these requirements impossible to satisfy.

The Williams Institute estimated that about 88,000 transgender citizens could vote in states with Voter ID laws and that about one third could lose their vote.

“There are a myriad of state and federal laws that govern whether or how transgender citizens can update their IDs, and some of these requirements are very difficult to meet and incredibly costly,” Jody L. Herman, author of the report, told Colorlines.

“Not only is there the emotional and psychological aspects, but also onerous requirements, such as the requirement to have had a certain kind of surgery, and some transgender citizens can’t afford it because it’s not covered by health insurance, while some simply don’t want it.”

A $50,000 cost for surgery in order to vote? That is some giant poll tax.

Related stories:

Voter ID Bills Bad News For Women Voters

Minnesota Close to Passing Country’s Most Restrictive Voter ID Law

NAACP Goes to UN to Protest Voter Suppression

Picture by Luminis Kanto


Isabella H.
Past Member about a year ago


Jennifer K.
Jennifer K3 years ago

Ack, I made a mistake too, and don't want to be confusing or hypocritical here. I meant to say that "the lucky ones are allowed to change their gender identity on their ID", not sexual identity. It's too late at night. :)

Jennifer K.
Jennifer K3 years ago

I should add that this is a serious issue for anyone who disagrees with the idea of basic human rights abuses being perpetuated on a most base and disgusting level.

Because as mentioned in the article, for trans people to be forced to "out" themselves every time they are asked to produce ID that is the opposite of their gender identity is not just emotionally abusive and humiliating. It is /highly, highly dangerous/. The lucky ones are allowed to change their sexual identity on their ID - after major surgery and a million other crazy hoops are jumped through, and many not even then.

This is not a joke, and this is not a choice, any more than being gay is a choice.

(And incidentally, being trans and being gay are totally separate things - one is about innate sexual preference and the other is about innate gender identity.)

Jennifer K.
Jennifer K3 years ago

Trying to get the comments back on track - this really is a serious issue for trans people and for anyone who believes in voting rights.

Josephine T.
Josephine T3 years ago

Hello, Teddy-the-right-wing-plant. How do I know? You're spouting right-wing crazy talk, you have no profile, and in fact you signed up the day you made the comments. Regardless, here's some answers.

Everything anti-Obama you spewed has been debunked - frequently, and a while ago. As far as requiring ID to vote - you have to show ID to register to vote, so we already make people prove they're citizens before they vote. There are plenty of safeguards on voting, and the only recent provable voter fraud has been performed by --- the Right Wing.

So thank you for outing yourself as a right wing shill. We'll be sure to ignore you in the future.

Teddy H.
Teddy H.3 years ago

oh i forgot , hitler, mussolini, moa , stalin all pushed gun control. Their govenments were responsible for 260 million civilian deaths in the 20th century.
But obama wants gun control for different reasons right?

Teddy H.
Teddy H.3 years ago

Nazi=national socialist workers union. (wikipedia)
Obama NATIONALIZED 40% of the auto industry , student loans etc etc
Obama SOCIALIZED health care
Obama was full and complete support of WORKERS UNIONS

Before you call me names and attack me personally. Give me one think that hitler and obama DO NOT have in common.
Sealed past records...........nope.
support abortion.................nope.
regulate the media.............nope (obama tried and failed reinstituting the fairness act)
gave military support to the muslim brother hood..........nope (hitler 1938)
denied christianity in favor of his own religion...........nope
was supported by the gay/lesbian community until he took power.......???

I am just asking for one political stand that hitler and obama dont have in common.

Teddy H.
Teddy H.3 years ago

lol making people prove they are citizens before they can vote is a vast right wing conspiracy?
Every liberal socialist country in the world requires you to indentify yourself before you vote, travel across borders, recieve benefits etc etc. So why does only america have to have porous borders and no safe guards on voting?
As long as mass cheating is allowed in the polls, neither liberals or conservatives are going to be happy with government behavior.
Its just logic.

Aimee A.
Aimee A4 years ago

Thanks for posting!

Aimee A.
Aimee A4 years ago

Thanks for posting!