Pride Month and how the LGBTQIA+ community is affected during elections.
What is PRIDE Month:
Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The Stonewall Uprising was a series of demonstrations and riots in reaction to a police raid of the Stonewall Inn, a bar frequented by members of the LGBTQIA+ community. The Uprising, led by young trans women of color, was a tipping point for the Equality Liberation Movement in the United States.
In the United States, the last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as “Gay Pride Day,” to commemorate the June 28th Stonewall Uprising. Today, the actual day of celebration is fluid but often consists of pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia, and concerts. Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world as people come together to celebrate the progress that the LGBTQIA+ community has made and to recognize the road ahead for full equality. Memorials are also held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes and HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals have had on local, national, and international history.
Acknowledging the diversity of the LGBTQIA+ community is key to understanding the impact of voter suppression tactics. People of color and people under 30 are more likely to identify as LGBTQIA+. LGBTQIA+ people are also more likely to be disabled than their heterosexual counterparts. Furthermore, low-income people often identify as LGBTQIA+ at higher rates than people with higher incomes.
- 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQIA+
- 9.6% of youth ages 18–24 identified as LGBTQIA+
- 11 million Americans identify as LGBTQIA+
- 3.5 million LGBTQIA+ youth 15 and older live in the U.S.
- 22% of LGBTQIA+ experience housing instability
Current Landscapes of Voter Rights and LGBTQIA+ Communities:
Voter suppression tactics are often used to silence some of the most marginalized populations, including members of the LGBTQIA+ community who are vulnerable to voter suppression tactics. The ongoing struggles that members of LGBTQIA+ community face include:
- Voter ID: This law requires voters to present a photo ID that matches their gender identity, which can block many transgender and gender-nonconforming people from voting. For many transgender individuals, obtaining an updated ID that accurately reflects their gender identity is incredibly difficult. This can create an additional barrier to voting, as many transgender individuals fear the stigma they could face at the polling place if their ID doesn’t match their gender identity. With COVID-19 impacting vital services, many DMVs are less accessible for individuals to obtain necessary IDs for registering and voting, making this difficult step even more difficult.
- Voter Registration: Like many other government forms, voter registration forms may also require choosing a binary gender option (male or female). This forces some trans and nonbinary people to inaccurately represent themselves in order to vote. Some states have made changes to their forms to eliminate the binary choice. For example, Virginia has replaced the male/female binary option with a blank space for the voter to fill in. Oregon, Michigan, and California have eliminated the gender requirement altogether.
- Name Change: While many states have provisions that allow non-matching names to be accepted, some states still have a strict requirement for the “exact match” of voters’ names. This can be particularly challenging for those trans and nonbinary folks who do not use their birth names.
Take Virginia and Georgia:
- Virginia issued guidance for interpreting its code regarding discrepancies between the name on a voter’s ID and their name on the poll books: “if a voter’s name on their ID is ‘substantially similar’ to the name in the poll book, they must be allowed to vote.”
- Meanwhile, Georgia’s “exact match” voter ID law requires the information on government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license or Social Security card, to match up exactly with the name on a voter registration application. If they don’t match — even because of something like a missing hyphen, an extra space, or a typo — the applicant has to take extra steps to verify their identity.
- Make sure that you are fully aware of all of the voter ID requirements in your state. If you have legally changed your name since you registered to vote, make sure to update your voter registration prior to the registration deadline in your state. If your name change was completed after the voter registration deadline, check your state’s guidelines. Some states allow voters to show proof of a legal name change at the polls in addition to their ID.
- The Transgender Equality Center has a comprehensive guide and map for more details on state name change rules & resources.
4. Transitional Housing and Homelessness: Many LGBTQIA+ people experience housing instability or homelessness, which can make it difficult to know how to register to vote. You are not required to live in a “traditional dwelling” to register to vote. People experiencing homelessness in all states can register to vote and designate their place of residence as a street corner, park, shelter, or any location where they usually spend the night.
- Not all states require a mailing address in order to register to vote. Of the states that do, some states allow PO boxes or places like shelters, churches, and advocacy centers to be used as mailing addresses for voter registration.
- Check your state’s laws or call the Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (866–687–8683) for more information.
Tips For Voting:
- Building your power and your community’s power is important. Please view Rock The Vote’s resources to stay involved.
- If ID is required in your state, BRING IT. It is also helpful to bring your voter registration card and a utility bill showing the address where you are registered.
- If you need assistance with voting, call the National Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (866–687–8683) for help.
Get Registered to Vote: RockTheVote.org