Vanessa’s Team Pick:
Here at Autostraddle we’re really into everyone exercising their right to vote. It can be tough to deal with the paperwork of registering or figure out where the closest poll booth is to your house, but you’ve just gotta do it — it’s your civic duty and we all need to make our voices heard. But what if small administrative tasks aren’t your biggest concern about voting on November 6? What if instead you’re more worried that you will be mocked, bullied or forced to disclose personal information about your identity when you attempted to exercise your basic civil right to vote?
That’s exactly what many trans* people are worried about, and with good reason.
Earlier this week Rachel wrote about restrictive voter ID laws, noting that the new laws are allegedly to prevent voter fraud but suspiciously manage to make it incredibly difficult for members of disenfranchised groups to vote, thus taking away the voices and power of voters who most desperately need to make themselves heard. She also pointed out that while it hasn’t been as widely discussed within this frame, the law will negatively affect trans* people whose names on their ID don’t necessarily match the voter registry. An April 2012 report by the Williams Institute at UCLA’s law school on “The Potential Impact of Voter Identification Laws on Transgender Voters“ confirms this theory, stating that more than 25,000 transgender American citizens may face stiff barriers to voting in the November 2012 election.
But not everything is horrible and shitty! The National Center for Transgender Equality has launched the campaign “Voting While Trans” to raise awareness about the new voter ID laws and to help trans* citizens be as prepared as possible for the polls. While it’s really frustrating that the burden of securing equal rights falls to trans* people themselves (rather than say, a government that actually exists to protect and support its people), these PSAs and the documents and resources provided on the center’s website may make voting easier, safer and more pleasant for trans* people, and that is an undeniably positive thing.
Here’s one of the PSAs, featuring an impressive and prominent group including NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling, writer and advocate Janet Mock, actress Laverne Cox, performance artist Ignacio Rivera, Charles Meins, and poet Kit Yan. The video (one of six) aims to educate and prepare transgender people on how to vote in their state.
For more information, including a “Voting While Trans” checklist, visit the National Center for Transgender Equality.