An increasing number of reports are emerging that trans men and women across the UK are being blocked from registering to vote in the general election, both online and at their local county council offices.
Metro reported that a trans man cannot register to vote for the upcoming British general election due to his National Insurance number being legally protected under default. ’Protected’ status is granted to trans people as well as citizens at high risk, including informers, prominent public figures and victims of serious crime.
When he went to register online, the website was displaying that his NI number “has been protected”. Though voters can register anonymously, this can still be difficult for trans citizens without a GRC (Gender Recognition Certificate) or up to date photo ID. One of many in the same situation, the man told Metro that “It feels like I’m not a person, it just feels like I’m less than everyone else.”
“I would vote Labour, I don’t think many trans people being denied the right to vote would actually vote for the government that implemented this,” he explained. “I think it’s disgusting that nothing has been done, we’re all supposed to be equal but we’re not.”
Trans and registering to vote? Read our #StonewallSays on issues you may face and how to work around them: https://t.co/WgERwYVuYa pic.twitter.com/svUYwxgyBQ— Stonewall (@stonewalluk) May 21, 2017
Labour have promised to reform the Gender Recognition Act to be more inclusive of trans people in their recently released manifesto and to update the Equality Act 2010 to ensure it adequately protects trans individuals. In schools, sex and relationship education and teacher training would be implemented to ensure LGBT inclusivity and help tackle LGBT bullying. They also promise ongoing training for all frontline health and social care professionals to make sure LGBT individuals have their needs met.
A trans women from Wiltshire told Gay Star News that she had never asked the Tax Office to place her records as “protected” when she changed her name, adding “had they asked me I would have told them not to. But they never asked: they just went ahead and did it.”
When she visited her local county council office to register in person with a myriad of official proofs of identity, including passport and tenancy agreement, she was ignored and told that she “just needed her National insurance number”.
The same receptionist also allegedly demanded to know her previous name and the reason for her status being ‘protected’. In fear of outing herself, the trans women denied answering and thus could not register. This comes three years after reports that trans voters were being forced to make their trans identities public through the online voting registration process emerged.
A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission told Metro that: “It is possible to register to vote without a National Insurance Number and the Electoral Commission provides local authorities with comprehensive guidance that outlines the processes they should follow if an applicant does not supply them with one.”