Courtrooms around the country are battling over whether or not states can impose voter ID laws, but they have focused primarily on issues of access when opposing the legislation.
But a new study shows that voter ID laws can negatively impact a portion of the population that is often overlooked. America’s transgender community.
In 2012, the Brennan Center reported that as many as 11 percent of eligible American voters do not have a valid photo-ID.
But according to one recent study, it turns out that some American populations are still disenfranchised by voter ID laws even after they go to the lengths of securing a government-issued photo-ID.
As of 2014, over 24,000 transgender Americans stand to be negatively impacted by voter ID laws in ten states that either already carry strict ID laws on the books or have legislation pending. That’s nearly 30% of transgender citizens who have transitioned.
“Transgender people who have transitioned to live in a gender different from the one assigned to them at birth face unique obstacles to obtaining identification documents that reflect their correct gender,” wrote Jody Herman. Herman is the author of a study by the Williams Institute looking at the challenges voter ID laws present to transgender Americans at the polls.
The discrepancy between a transgender person’s presentation after transitioning and the gender that is still officially assigned to them on government identification is what could keep transgender persons from exercising their right to vote.
States have varying definitions of what constitutes a “valid” ID. In many instances, it’s up to election officials at the polls to make the call in determining whether or not an ID is valid.
And according to the research, officials don’t always make decisions that reflect equitable treatment when it comes to the transgender population. Twenty-two percent of transgender respondents reported being denied equal treatment and 22 percent reported being harassed by government officials.
It seems the costs of voter ID laws far exceed whatever benefits those in favor of the legislation hold.
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