Story at a glance
- As many as 203,700 transgender Americans who are eligible to vote in this year’s general election could face barriers to voting because of stringent voter ID laws, according to new research from the Williams Institute.
- About 414,000 voting-eligible transgender Americans live in the 31 states that primarily conduct their elections in person at the polls and have a voter ID law. Nearly half of transgender voters in those states do not have an ID that correctly reflects their name or gender.
- Of voting-eligible transgender people who live in states with voter ID requirements, 64,800 live in the states with the strictest voter ID laws, according to the Williams Institute.
More than 200,000 transgender Americans could face barriers to voting in November’s midterm elections, according to new research from the Williams Institute, a public policy think tank focusing on issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
As many as 203,700 transgender Americans who are eligible to vote in this year’s general election could face barriers to voting because of stringent voter ID laws, the Williams Institute said Thursday in a report, including nearly 65,000 that live in states where photo identification is required at the polls.
Roughly 414,000 transgender adults live in 31 states that primarily hold elections in person at polling locations and have voter ID requirements. Nearly half do not have an ID that correctly reflects their name or gender, according to the Williams Institute.
Legal processes for updating the name and gender on official government-issued identification documents vary between states, and are often complex and costly.
According to the Movement Advancement Project, which tracks state laws and policies that impact LGBTQ+ people in the U.S., 8 states currently have laws in place that require an individual to provide proof of surgery or a court order or amended birth certificate to change their gender designation on official identity documents.
In nine states, to legally change their name, a person must publicly post or publish a name change request, often in a local newspaper, according to the Movement Advancement Project, a process that creates not only a financial obstacle, but also puts transgender people at risk of potential harm, harassment or discrimination.
A 2021 Williams Institute report found that transgender people in the U.S. are more than four times as likely as cisgender people to experience violent victimization, including rape, sexual assault, and aggravated or simple assault.
Victimization rates are higher among transgender individuals with identity documents reflecting a name or gender marker inconsistent with their perceived gender, and more than a third reported being harassed, assaulted or discriminated against in the National Center for Transgender Equality’s 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey.
“States should take steps to improve access to voting for transgender people by changing voter ID laws, making the process of obtaining accurate IDs simpler and more affordable, training poll workers, and reducing barriers to voting more broadly,” Jody L. Herman, a senior scholar at the Williams Institute and one of the report’s four co-authors, said Thursday.
“Voter ID laws may create barriers to voting for substantial numbers of voting-eligible transgender people, which is particularly notable in elections that are decided by a few votes,” she said.