For Transgender and Nonbinary Voters, Casting A Ballot Can Come With Some Discomfort

Ty is a 22-year-old who grew up in Manchester and, like a lot of New Hampshire voters, got involved in politics at a young age. They phone-banked and canvassed for Bernie Sanders’ campaign as a high school student in 2016; they also cast their first vote the same year. And as the 2020 general election approaches, Ty’s eager to head back to the polls.

“Honestly, my biggest concern is just the results,” Ty said. “I spend a lot of time listening and researching politics. I’m really politically motivated.”

Ty uses “he/him” and “they/them” pronouns. NHPR is only using Ty’s first name because they’re concerned that publicly disclosing their nonbinary gender identity to strangers could put their safety at risk.

But as Ty gets ready to cast their ballot this year, they’re also bracing for some discomfort. Ty no longer uses their birth name — what many transgender and nonbinary people refer to as their “deadname” — but that’s still listed as their legal name on the voter checklist.

“It feels to me like I’m almost an imposter,” Ty said. “Because that’s not — the name on the ballot isn’t me, you know? Or at least, how I view myself.”

Gender isn’t a factor in voting eligibility, but questions of identity are central to the voting process. By law, New Hampshire voters are asked to prove they are who they say they are when they register and before casting a ballot. And that simple reality of the state’s election rules can bring up a lot of complicated, or even painful, feelings for voters whose legal name or gender marker on official ID documents doesn’t reflect their true identity.

Even if they’ve never been denied the right to vote, some trans, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming voters in New Hampshire say their experience at the polling place hasn’t always been positive. Some said they’ve been misgendered, challenged on their ID documents or “outed” by information in the voter file.

Read the rest of this story at NHPR’s website.