"Voting While Trans" PSA, two years later

Since the "Voting While Trans" PSA was released two years ago, voting rights for minorities have become more of a challenge than ever.

In September of 2012, GLAAD and the National Center for Transgender Equality produced a series of public service announcements that drew attention to the risk of voter suppression, particularly in the transgender community. Bringing together notable transgender advocates such as Janet Mock and Laverne Cox, these PSAs emphasized the importance of being proactive against policies that make it difficult or impossible for transgender people to exercise their right to vote.

The campaign was, in part, a reaction to the Real ID Act; an implementation of a 9/11 Commission recommendation that urged the federal government to “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses.”

In practice, this law can lead to difficulties at the polls for transgender individuals, especially in states and territories where discriminatory laws and policies make it challenging to update identification and change gender markers. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, only 21% of transgender people have been able to update all of their records and IDs with the appropriate changes.

Since the release of these PSAs, Voter ID laws have become even more stringent. In 2013, the landmark Supreme Court case Shelby County v. Holder ruled section 4b of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 unconstitutional on the grounds that its formula for determining preclearance for state-level alteration of voting laws was outdated. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was initially enacted to address racial discrimination in voting, and in striking down 4b, the protection for minorities who face voter suppression becomes far more ambiguous. This ruling has eliminated obstacles for states to enforce even stricter voter ID Laws.

The Texas Voter ID law for example, has gone into effect despite the fact that it could not, and did not, pass review under the fully operational Voting Rights Act prior to the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision. Under this law, citizens may only cast their ballot if they have: a driver's license, an Election Identification Certificate, a personal identification card, a concealed handgun license, a United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph, a United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph, or a United States passport. Whichever form of identification one offers, it must match exactly with the poll workers' roster of voters.

With this new legislation, it is more important than ever for transgender voters and their allies to know their rights. For more information, visit http://www.glaad.org/vote.