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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 26, 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 52
Brits put up obstacles to Trans voters
Section One
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Brits put up obstacles to Trans voters

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Britain's new voter registration system will bar many Trans people from voting, activists charged, in spite of the country's 2004 Gender Recognition Act.

The new system requires Trans voters to submit their previous names to authorities, or to register in with multiple legal documents many of them lack.

'The 'majority' is just blind/arrogant to the needs of the minority, even though - with a moment's thought, and NO downside to that majority - some thoughtfulness could be applied which means that some others could receive their basic rights...' one Trans person who failed to register told the British Gay Star News.

'Trans people face this shit all the time,' they continued.

The new registration system, rolled out in October, gives British voters two options - online or in person registration.

If someone opts for online registration, they will be asked to state their residence, their nationality, and their place of birth. So far, so good. They are then asked to enter their name, and to state if they have ever changed their name.

There are three possible answers to that question - never, within the last year, or more than a year ago.

The first answer allows the would-be voter to move on to the next screen. The second and third responses lead to a request for the previous name.

Individuals who attempt to move past this screen without providing a previous name are blocked.

Trans people are therefore required to submit their pre-transition names with no explanation of who will have access to this information or how it will be stored. Some say the system puts them at risk of outing themselves by entering their private information into a potentially public document.

The option of registering in person is no better for Trans people, however, because it requires potential voters to submit a range of paper proofs of identity including passports, birth certificates, bank statements, and bills.

Not only is this method cumbersome, but many Trans people who are still in the process of transition may be unable to comply with all of the requirements.

Gay Star News worried that 'This approach to identity is likely to result in a number of Trans individuals not registering to vote in next May's General Election.'

Britain's Cabinet Office, which administers voter registration, has consulted with Britain's Trans community in the past over issues of online identity. But this time, they refused to answer questions from the news media and merely issued a statement saying they had no intention of changing the system.

'The aim of asking for information about changes to name is to ensure that in as many cases as possible applications for voter registration are verified automatically without the need for anyone to handle documents,' a Cabinet Office spokesperson said.

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