British driving licence on a polling card.

Concerns about the impact of voter ID on LGBTQ+ people are not new. In the US, evidence shows that although LGBTQ+ people are highly engaged in politics, they also face community-specific barriers to voting. In particular, trans people can have difficulty obtaining ID that reflects their gender identity and expression. This reduces their likelihood of voting: trans people have been found almost 40% less likely to register to vote if they do not have ID that matches their identity and expression. 

Our study of trans people’s experiences of voter ID in England, Scotland and Wales demonstrates that it has created similar barriers to political participation with government guidelines stating that your photo ID must ‘look like you’. Participants reported dysphoric responses to ‘outdated’ ID that does not reflect their gender identity; anxiety about potential misgendering or deadnaming when presenting ID to vote; and fears of direct challenge or conflict if their ID is questioned. Only 26% of participants said they would feel comfortable showing their photo ID. Instead, we are seeing a move away from in-person voting (-18%) towards a higher use of postal votes (+16%) for trans and non-binary voters, in order to avoid any negative interactions that may arise at the polling station. 

However, despite Voter Authority Certificates and the possibility of postal votes our study found that 25% of trans people reported they were less likely to vote in a future general election. The fact is that some trans people are likely to be put off voting for as long as photo ID rules are in place.