Trans Voters Could Be Turned Away in 2020 U.S. Election, Report Says

Hundreds of thousands of transgender Americans may be unable to vote in this year’s election because their name or looks do not match their identification card, research showed on Thursday, a trend that experts say could affect Democratic turnout.

Some 378,000 eligible U.S. voters who are trans do not have identification such as a driver’s license that reflects their appearance or gender identity, said a report by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, a public policy research institute.

In the United States, 35 of the 50 states require voters to show identification and of the trans people without IDs, 260,000 live in one of the 35 states, the research said.

Backers of voter ID laws say they are intended to combat voter fraud.

Voter rights advocates say the number of actual cases is extremely small and restrictions disproportionately affect poor and minority voters.

In the November 2020 election, Democrats are hoping to oust U.S. President Donald Trump, the presumed Republican nominee, from a second term in the White House.

On Election Day, poll officials and workers decide whether the voter in front of them is the person on the voter registration rolls, said report co-author Jody Herman, a researcher at Williams, in a statement.

“Especially in states that require an ID to be shown, this could result in some transgender voters being disenfranchised,” she said.

Keeping trans people from voting could favor the Republican party that is more conservative than its Democratic rival, said Richard Hasen, an election law expert and law professor at the University of California, Irvine.

“If you look at the demographics of people least likely to have an ID, they tend to be more poor or a racial or ethnic minority,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“These all correlate with someone who is more likely to vote for a Democrat.”

In 2018, civil rights groups in Georgia accused a top state official, a Republican, of trying to depress minority turnout, by putting more than 50,000 voter registration applications on hold, to improve his chances in his bid to become governor.

The state of Georgia has an “exact match” law requiring personal information on voter applications such as names to match state databases.

Having an ID that does not reflect an individual’s gender identity can make it difficult for transgender people to apply for jobs, get housing or travel, advocates say.

“Transgender people should not be denied their opportunity to participate in our democracy because laws and regulations around identification documents haven’t kept up with reality,” said Mara Keisling, head of The National Center for Transgender Equality Action Fund, in a statement.

“Every eligible US citizen should be allowed to vote, including members of the transgender community.”

Advocates have argued for ways to change gender markers on birth certificates and other documents, a process that varies state by state.

Earlier this week, a U.S. lawmaker on Tuesday introduced a bill that would add a gender-neutral option to passports to advance the rights of LGBT+ people.

Several U.S. states where voter ID is required, including Alabama, Tennessee and Virginia, will hold primaries next Tuesday.

Dubbed Super Tuesday, the 14-state March 3 contest offers the largest single-day haul of delegates in the Democratic Party’s White House nominating battle.

While several states have “exact match” laws, others require residents to show photo identification when voting.

(Reporting by Matthew Lavietes; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit


  1. VoterID now!!! It’s the only thing that you don’t need an ID for in 15 states. It’s stupid to think people can’t get ID’s. They already have them. If they look different then their pic, go update your ID. Act like a freaking adult!

  2. “There is no constitutional issue here. The command of the Constitution is plain.

    There is no moral issue. It is wrong–deadly wrong–to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country.

    There is no issue of States rights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights.” Pres. Johnson

    1. ALL voters MUST be properly registered to vote. Those AMERICAN citizens who are not LEGALLY registered should NOT be permitted to vote. Appears to be the reason for voter registration rules and to keep the Illegal Invaders from voting – REF: Amendment 24 of the Bill of Rights.

  3. The majority of transgendered individuals I know consider obtaining appropriate identification to be the “final” step in their transition. It’s generally something they can’t wait to do and frankly ridiculous if they don’t.

    1. A driver’s license is the final step, but you are supposed to live in your desired gender for a period of time. I have a family member transitioning. Before permanent changes, they basically live halfway before starting hormones and certainly before surgery. It was more than a full year changing exterior appearance and name only.

      Despite how conservatives pretend this is a flippant decision – the two transitions that i have seen. It has been a very slow process.

      Anyways, its that group thats impacted and thats why.

      1. Question: Wouldn’t it be prudent for an individual who has decided to transition to prepare for the finality and get – at least – the sex corrected on his/.her identification paperwork? Seems to me there would be no turning back once the medical procedures were begun and that would give them a step in the right direction.

        1. As i said, it is a slower process than you’re implying. You don’t decide to transition one day and head straight to the courthouse to change your name then schedule the surgery the next week.

          I have had acquaintance transition and now watching an immediate family member go through this. It is a process – and i would argue that not rushing the process is giving the finality of a gender change the consideration it deserves.

          1. I can certainly understand your point. My point was that – on down the line in the transition process (weeks or months later) AFTER the conclusive decision has been arrived at – why not change the identifying paperwork to reflect that eventuality?

        2. I can only provide what I’ve seen from the two instances. I am not an expert.

          But my family member was told to spend a year+ in the preferred gender using a new name unofficially. Then hormone therapy after that. And then surgery. I don’t know the timeline of the last two, but it isn’t a fast timeline.

          So what you’re saying is potentially weeks or months later is actually years and more years later.

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