October 11 was National Coming Out Day, and one of the key reminders for all of us, is that the act of coming out is not a one and done event. For members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and their allies, coming out is something that we do every day… sometimes several times a day! The act of coming out is something that members of the community manage through on Election Day, in ways you may not have imagined. Think about this: you have been looking forward to Election Day, you’ve reviewed the candidates and have your picks, and you are ready to cast that ballot, in person. But wait, what if you are in one of the 38 states or territories that require presenting some type of identification in order to vote? For most of us, this thought will never cross our mind. However, getting an officially issued ID can be a challenge, especially for older voters who may not drive anymore, those without easy access to a birth certificate, or low-income citizens.
Now imagine you have your valid, unexpired photo ID except there is one thing. Your gender identity does not match the picture or sex on your ID.
Increased anxiety over proving you have the right to vote is a reality the transgender and gender non-conforming community faces every year and may deter you from even trying to vote. If your ID photo was taken before any transition and the sex reads your sex at birth, you may be subject to additional, unintended scrutiny at the polls.
It may help to know that there are some states that allow a third identifier for sex on a piece of identification (X) for non-binary voters who do not identify strictly as male or female and can also include those who identify as transgender. This is an option in 15 states and the District of Columbia. To see if this is an option in your state, and other information about state ID laws, check here.
Most states allow you to get a mail-in ballot. In some states like Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas you will need a valid reason to obtain a mail-in ballot – such as being out of the country on election day or having a medical issue. Some other states may even automatically mail you a ballot. This eliminates the need to show an ID, in person, at the time of your vote.
However, you will need a valid ID at the time of initial voter registration or a copy at the time of requesting an absentee or mail-in ballot and in some cases a copy when you mail your completed ballot. Just make sure your signatures match and all mail-in ballot procedures are followed. To ensure you have a plan that is in line with your state’s rules and regulations, check here.
For other helpful tips for #VotingWhileTrans, check here.
However you choose to vote this year, make a plan and follow through. As with anything else in life, when you have a plan to execute against, it is easier to implement and achieve your goal. Ask your friends, family, and neighbors if they have a plan and you may find out some of the people in your life may have barriers and that you now have the knowledge to help. The right to vote is a basic, inalienable right for all eligible Americans from the red, white, and blue to all the colors of the rainbow.
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