Voter ID laws prevent thousands of Blacks and Latinxs from casting their ballots each presidential election. However, they’re not the only groups these statutes discriminate against. According to UCLA’s Williams Institute, a think tank researching issues impacting the LGBTQ community, voter ID laws can keep as many as 34,000 transgender people from voting this November.
Strict voter ID laws in eight states—Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin—which can require voters to provide multiple proofs of identification, some that aren’t consistent with trans people’s gender identity and names, can force members of this community to be outed in a very public setting.
“You don’t have any choice: If you want to vote, you have to out yourself to somebody as being transgender,” Stephanie Mott, a trans woman who was outed at a polling center in Kansas in 2008, told Fusion. “It’s frightening because you never know how that’s going to be responded to.”
The public disclosing of someone’s transness can be dangerous. According to a National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 3 percent of respondents reported being assaulted or attacked after presenting documents that didn’t match their gender identity. More than 40 percent reported being harassed.
To help, the National Center for Transgender Equality created Voting While Trans, a video campaign and checklist that offers trans voters information about necessary documents and possible harassment. It also includes a section for poll workers, which notes that trans voters aren’t there to give them trouble.
“Transgender voters are not doing anything wrong or trying to deceive you—they are just being themselves,” the guide explains. “Transgender people have the right to vote just like everyone else, and it is your responsibility to ensure they are able to do so without hassle.”
Mott, who is the founder and executive director of the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project and the vice chair of Equality Kansas, remembers having to break down what transgender meant to a poll worker four years ago.
“It just adds to an already horribly difficult life that a lot of people who are transgender are already forced to live,” she said. “We talk about the election fraud that this law was supposed to take care of, and real true election fraud is when you sit out there and you disenfranchise voters from being able to exercise their right to participate in the legislative process.”