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5 ways to prep for the polls as a transgender voter

November 2, 2018

I was 17 when I voted in my first midterm election. I was so excited to cast my ballot, however, after researching the candidates I couldn’t help but be disappointed. The candidates that I had to choose from didn’t always do a great job of representing the populations they were hoping to speak for, especially transgender people. So, when I see people take to social media in the aftermath of tragic events like the leak of Trump’s discriminatory memo to encourage people to vote, I understand, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I consider voting a privilege and a civic duty, but I understand that advocacy needs to start before we can even get to the polls.

I live in Ohio and our state is infamous for harsh voter ID laws and unconstitutional gerrymandering. Gerrymandering practices have gotten so despicable in my state, the ACLU filed a lawsuit. These barriers make it difficult for minority individuals to firstly cast their vote, and then ensure it will hold the weight that it should.

Strict voter ID laws like the ones in place in my state, disenfranchise transgender voters, as 68% of trans people do not have identification that match their gender identity and/or name. Even when we’re able to vote, more often than not, the candidates we have to choose from aren’t always trans inclusive in their policy or language.

In order to properly prepare for your day at the polls, GLAAD and NCTE have released helpful posts to provide assistance to queer and trans identified people throughout the voting process.

Check out 5 ways to prep before November 6:

1. Not sure if you’re prepared to head to the polls? Check off items on the #VotingWhileTrans Guide

2. Voting in Massachusetts? Vote Yes On 3, the ballot initiative that protects transgender people from discrimination.

3. Don’t believe your vote makes a difference? Read trans activist and my fellow GLAAD Campus Ambassador, Leah Juliett’s call to action for voting in progressive states.

4. Want to take action between now and November 6? Become a Digital Door Knocker for GLAAD to get out the LGBTQ vote!

5. Don’t know your states voting rules? Find out on GLAAD’s Action Center.

Have more questions? Call the National Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683)

For those who want to do more, there are other ways to be civically engaged. I encourage those who are able to donate directly to trans individuals who suffer due to a lack of federal and state protections in place. Donate to LGBTQ and trans specific organizations that are advocating for policies and programming that will better the lives of those at risk. Volunteer at a local LGBTQ centers, canvass for queer political candidates and encourage local legislative bodies to fill in the cracks that federal and state policies don’t cover.

Ose Arheghan is a GLAAD Campus Ambassador and first year at Ohio State University studying political science and sexuality studies. Ose is the 2017 GLSEN Student Advocate of the Year and The Matthew Shepard Foundation's 2018 Spirit of Matthew Honoree. 

the voice and vision of a new generation