Indiana Daily Student

Transgender voters face disenfranchisement

State voter ID laws may create barriers for nearly 31 percent of transgender residents eligible to vote in Indiana.

Indiana has more than 18,000 eligible transgender voters, but at least 5,000 do not have accurate IDs for voting, according to a UCLA Williams Institute press 
release.

Many transgender people who have transitioned do not have identification that reflects their correct gender, Jody Herman, a Williams Institute scholar, wrote in the study, “The Potential Impact of Voter Identification Laws on Transgender Voters in the 2016 Election.”

In order for voting-eligible transgender people to obtain the accurate IDs for voting, they must meet state and federal requirements to update IDs, according to the press release.

These requirements vary widely by state or federal agency and can be difficult and costly to meet.

“Lawmakers and election officials should not overlook the impact on transgender voters when enacting voting restrictions based on identity documents,” Herman said in the press release. “Transgender people have unique, and sometimes insurmountable, burdens to obtaining accurate IDs for voting in states that require it.”

If a person transitioned and wanted to do a name-change, their identity documents are all implicated in the process. This includes driver’s licenses, passports and birth certificates, she said.

Transgender people of color, youth, students, people with low income, and people with disabilities are likely overrepresented among those who do not have an accurate ID for voting because they face additional barriers along with being transgender, according to the press release.

In Indiana, to update name and gender marker on legal documents requires a physician’s statement of gender change and a court order to change a legal name unrelated to marriage, divorce or immigration status.

It is common to change one’s name for marriage, however, updating gender markers is a problem faced only by the transgender community.

Jeanne Smith, a Bloomington resident and transgender activist, said she has presented female and voted in every election and primary since coming out as a transgender woman nine years ago.

She has presented female with a male name and sex marker, female name with a male sex marker and now today has female name and sex marker.

“Despite 50 years living in fear voting was not one of the problems,” Smith said.

Herman said that voters still have time to update their identification before elections in November.

“It is constantly shifting in both arenas- voter IDs and updating IDs,” Herman said.

“Folks interested in it have to keep their eye on it.”

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