Strict Voter ID Laws Impose Added Costs for Transgender Voters

For Immediate Distribution
March 31, 2016

Contact:
Noel Alumit, alumit@law.ucla.edu, 310-794-2332

LOS ANGELES — Transgender people may experience barriers to voting at the polls in states with strict voter identification laws if there are inconsistencies between their ID, voter registration information, and appearance, according to a new report by Taylor N.T. Brown, Policy Analyst, and Jody Herman, Scholar of Public Policy, from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

To help ensure the ability to vote on a regular ballot at the polls, transgender people who have transitioned to live in a gender different from their sex assigned at birth must update their gender marker and photo on their photo ID. However, these updates cost time and money, and transgender people uniquely bear the costs.

The study, “Voter ID Laws and Their Added Costs for Transgender Voters,” examined the additional costs of strict voter ID laws for transgender people in 10 states and described the procedures transgender people must follow to update their photo ID to help ensure their ability to vote on a regular ballot at the polls.

“These strict photo ID laws are onerous burdens for many  groups of individuals who may not have acceptable photo identification,” Brown said. “Yet, there are additional costs and burdens of these strict laws that specifically impact transgender people’s ability to vote at the polls.”

Key findings from the report include:

• Fees associated with updating photo ID with a change of gender can range from $8 to $358. There are additional costs connected with obtaining court orders, proof of identity and citizenship, documentation of medical treatment, and other required documents.

• Some states only allow individuals to update their IDs after receiving transition-related surgery, regardless of whether they need any surgery as part of their transition.

• Among transgender people who have transitioned from their sex assigned at birth, an estimated 27 percent have not updated any ID to accurately reflect their gender.

Click here for the full report.