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Proposed legislation has worrying implications for trans, non-binary and gender diverse people. Derwen Fay, who is genderfluid, shares their story

I am concerned that the current mandatory voter ID proposals have the potential to disenfranchise and discourage many people from participating in the electoral process, a cornerstone of our democracy. In my opinion, the right to vote is one of the most important parts of our society, but these plans threaten to limit people from lower income backgrounds and the LGBTQIA+ community from participating in this process.

There are many pitfalls within current proposals which I believe could be exclusionary and potentially costly for the trans community. There are issues too with the fact that there is no non-binary gender marker on official documentation, despite huge demand. A petition earlier this year, signed by 140,000 people, was rejected, with the government claiming there were too many “complex practical consequences” to consider it. 

For genderfluid people like me, there are big concerns. My gender identity moves quite regularly between feeling non-binary, female, and occasionally male, so any form of binary gendered ID will not accurately represent how I identify on that particular day. 

Derwen is worried about how voter ID proposals might impact the trans community

In May 2021, the first election I was able to vote in, I presented in a way that did not fit the title on my polling card, and received judging looks by the clerks. While I was able to cast my vote, microaggressions like these are a worrying sign of what could come should the voter ID proposals become law. 

The current voter ID proposals have the potential to disenfranchise and discourage many people from participating in the electoral process

It’s a real worry that people like me could face questioning and scepticism, or even risk being turned away from polling stations if they don’t present as the gender on their ID and I’m concerned that if this bill goes through the enactment process that it would make it so uncomfortable for trans, non-binary and gender diverse people to vote that they just don’t bother. 

I’ve wanted to vote since the age of 10 and to see actions that could disenfranchise people like me by my own government feels like yet another way to silence trans+ people, a community that needs to have our voices heard so much more. I honestly feel like my own government doesn’t want me to have a voice in who should run the country, which makes me so angry. 

Voter fraud is not a big enough problem, in my opinion, to justify the masses of people who will choose not to vote, or not be able to vote as a result of these proposals. So to me, and many others, it feels less about the prevention of voter fraud and more about blocking people like us from having a say. It is a deeply worrying attack on our democracy, and one which could stop so many people being heard.

If voter ID is to be introduced, the government has a duty to ensure that any new process will be accessible to and empower everyone – including, trans, non-binary and gender diverse people. How will genderfluid people like me be able to go to the booth on polling day and feel respected and enjoy their right, without fear of scrutiny and rejection? These are questions that any MP devoted to upholding the value of democracy must be ready to answer if they are going to vote ‘aye’.

Want to write for Mermaids? We are commissioning trans, non-binary and gender diverse people to write about things that matter to them! If you’re interested, please email a short pitch to [email protected] with the subject line WRITE FOR MERMAIDS.