Skip to main content

Advertisement

Log in

Assessing Voter Registration Among Transgender and Gender Non-conforming Individuals

  • Original Paper
  • Published:
Political Behavior Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Although public attention to transgender (trans) politics has increased dramatically in recent years, the scholarly community still has a limited understanding of how trans and gender non-conforming (GNC) individuals participate in the political system. Trans/GNC individuals are faced with a dual reality. On one hand, they are part of a highly organized and activated group whose rights depend on political engagement; on the other hand, individuals often face barriers to political participation including a lack of proper identification and low socioeconomic status. In this paper, we explore the effects of these competing forces on trans/GNC voter registration. We use the theory of oppositional consciousness to hypothesize that being part of a political and highly mobilized population helps trans/GNC individuals overcome barriers to participation. Using data on over 5000 self-identified trans/GNC individuals from the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey we show that, though individuals are less likely to participate if they lack gender-conforming identification, on the whole trans/GNC individuals in this survey register at rates that are consistent with or higher than the general population. The evidence points to the importance of the trans political movement in activating and developing oppositional consciousness in its members. We explore the implications of these findings and what they mean for future research.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

Notes

  1. A replication dataset and code file are available on Political Behavior’s Dataverse site https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/M0NGKW.

  2. In 2015 there was a second iteration of this survey conducted called the United States Transgender Survey. This survey asks more political questions; however, at time of press these data were not publicly available. The 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Survey also included a single measure of transgender identity; however, this measure does not differentiate between trans and GNC identity.

References

  • Alvarez, R. M., Bailey, D. & Katz, J. N. (2008). The effect of voter identification laws on turnout. California Institute of Technology Social Science Working Paper 1267R.

  • American National Election Studies, The (ANES). ANES 2012 Time Series Study. ICPSR35157-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2016-05-17. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR35157.v1.

  • Austin, A., & Goodman, R. (2017). The impact of social connectedness and internalized transphobic stigma on self-esteem among transgender and gender non conforming adults. Journal of Homosexuality, 64, 825–841.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bailey, R. W. (2013). Gay politics, urban politics: Identity and economics in the urban setting. New York: Columbia University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bergan, D. E., Gerber, A. S., Green, D. P., & Panagopoulos, C. (2005). Grassroots mobilization and voter turnout in 2004. Public Opinion Quarterly,69(5), 760–777.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cipolletta, S., Votadoro, R., & Faccio, E. (2017). Online support for transgender people: An analysis of forums and social networks.). Health and Social Care in the Community,25(5), 1542–1551.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clements-Nolle, K., Marx, R., & Katz, M. (2006). Attempted suicide among transgender persons: The influence of gender-based discrimination and victimization. Journal of Homosexuality,51(3), 53–69.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dale, A., & Strauss, A. (2009). Don’t forget to vote: Text message reminders as a mobilization tool. American Journal of Political Science, 53(4), 787–804.

    Google Scholar 

  • Davidson, M. (2007). Seeking refuge under the umbrella: Inclusion, exclusion, and organizing within the category transgender. Sexuality Research and Social Policy,4(4), 60–80.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dawson, M. C. (1995). Behind the mule: Race and class in African-American politics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Denny, D. (2006). Transgender communities of the United States in the late twentieth century. In P. Currah, R. M. Juang, & S. P. Minter (Eds.), Transgender rights (pp. 171–191). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Egan, P. J., Edelman, M. S. & Sherrill, K. (2008). Findings from the hunter college poll: new discoveries about the political attitudes of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals. Hunter College, The City University of New York. Retrieved 5 June 2017 from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/10af/dbc6036715c497938627dfb8d1642b60ef8f.pdf.

  • Ennis, D. (2016). Voting while trans: ‘lady, sir, whatever-just please sit over there and wait.’ Logo. Retrieved 5 June 2017 from http://www.newnownext.com/transgender-votingelection/09/2016/.

  • Flores, A. R., Haider-Markel, D. P., Lewis, D. C., Miller, P. R., Tadlock, B. L., & Taylor, J. K. (2018). Challenged expectations: mere exposure effects on attitudes about transgender people and rights. Political Psychology,39(1), 197–216.

    Google Scholar 

  • Flores, A. R., Herman, J. L., Gates, G. J. & Brown, T. N. T. (2016). How many adults identify as transgender? The Williams Institute. Retrieved 5 June 2017 from http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/How-Many-Adults-Identify-as-Transgender-in-the-United-States.pdf.

  • Gay and transgender youth homelessness by the numbers. (2010). Center for American Progress. Retrieved 5 June 2017 from https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbt/news/2010/06/21/7980/gay-andtransgender-youth-homelessness-by-the-numbers/.

  • Gerber, A. S., & Green, D. P. (2000). The effects of canvassing, telephone calls, and direct mail on voter turnout: A field experiment. American Political Science Review,94(3), 653–663.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goldberg, C. (1996). Shunning ‘he’ and ‘she,’ they fight for respect.” New York Times. Retrieved 5 June 2017 from http://www.nytimes.com/1996/09/08/us/shunning-he-and-sh-they-fight-forrespect.html.

  • Grant, J. M., Mottet, L. A., & Tanis, J. (2011). Injustice at every turn: a report of the national transgender discrimination survey. National Center for Transgender Equality. Retrieved 5 June 2017 from https://transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/resources/NTDS_Report.pdf.

  • Groch, S. A. (1994). Oppositional consciousness: Its manifestation and development. The case of people with disabilities. Sociological Inquiry,64(4), 369–395.

    Google Scholar 

  • Grossman, A. H., & D’Augelli, A. R. (2006). Transgender youth: Invisible and vulnerable. Journal of Homosexuality,51(1), 111–218.

    Google Scholar 

  • Grossman, A. H., & D’Augelli, A. R. (2007). Transgender youth and life-threatening behaviors. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior,37(5), 527–537.

    Google Scholar 

  • Halloran, L. (2015). Survey shows striking increase in Americans who know and support transgender people. Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved 5 June 2017 from http://www.hrc.org/blog/survey-shows-striking-increase-in-americans-who-knowandsupport-transgender.

  • Herman, J. L. (2012). The potential impact of voter identification laws on transgender voters. Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. Retrieved 5 June 2017 from https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research/transgender-issues/the-potential-impact-o-voter-identification-laws-on-transgender-voters/.

  • Herman, J. L. (2016). The potential impacts of voter identification laws on transgender voters in the 2016 general election. The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. Retrieved 5 June 2017http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016-Voter-ID.pdf.

  • Hertzog, M. (1996). The lavender vote: Lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals in American electoral politics. New York City: New York University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Huddy, L. (2003). Group identity and political cohesion. In D. O. Sears, L. Huddy, & R. Jervis (Eds.), Oxford handbook of political psychology (pp. 511–558). NewYork: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Human Rights Campaign. (2015). Anti-transgender legislation spreads nationwide, bills targeting transgender children surge. Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved 5 June 2017 from https://assets2.hrc.org/files/assets/resources/HRC-Anti-Trans-Issue-Brief-FINALREV2.pdf?_ga = 2.140260979.1137392991.1517703354-1205387757.1517703354.

  • ID documents center. (2017). National Center for Transgender Equality. Retrieved 5 June 2017 from http://www.transequality.org/documents.

  • Jordan, K. M. (2000). Substance abuse among gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning adolescents. School Psychology Review,29(2), 201–206.

    Google Scholar 

  • Keuroghlian, A. S., Shtasel, D., & Bassuk, E. L. (2014). Out on the street: A public health and policy agenda for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth who are homeless. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry,84(1), 66–72.

    Google Scholar 

  • Knight, R. E., Shoveller, J. A., Carson, A. M., & Contreras-Whitney, J. G. (2014). Examining clinicians’ experiences providing sexual health services for LGBTQ youth: Considering social and structural determinants of health in clinical practice. Health Education Research,29(4), 662–670.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kosenko, K., Rintamaki, L., Raney, S., & Maness, K. (2013). Transgender patient perceptions of stigma in health care contexts. Medical Care,51(9), 819–822.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kwon, S. A. (2008). Moving from complaints to action: Oppositional consciousness and collective action in a political community. Anthropology & Education Quarterly,39(1), 59–76.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lamble, S. (2008). Retelling racialized violence, remaking white innocence: The politics of interlocking oppressions in transgender day of remembrance. Sexuality Research and Social Policy,5(1), 24–42.

    Google Scholar 

  • Liu, Z. (2005). Reading behavior in the digital environment: Changes in reading behavior over the past ten years. Journal of Documentation,61(6), 700–712.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lombardi, E. L. (1999). Integration within a transgender social network and its effect upon members’ social and political activity. Journal of Homosexuality,37(1), 109–126.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mansbridge, J. J., & Morris, A. (Eds.). (2001). Oppositional consciousness: The subjective roots of social protest. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • McGuire, J. K., Anderson, C. R., Toomey, R. B., & Russell, S. T. (2010). School climate for transgender youth: A mixed method investigation of student experiences and school responses. Journal of Youth and Adolescence,39(10), 1175–1188.

    Google Scholar 

  • Miller, W. E., & Shanks, J. M. (1996). The new American voter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Murib, Z. (2015). Transgender: Examining an emerging political identity using three political processes. Politics, Groups, and Identities,3(3), 381–397.

    Google Scholar 

  • Negrón-Gonzales, G. (2013). Navigating “illegality”: Undocumented youth & oppositional consciousness. Children and Youth Services Review,35(8), 1284–1290.

    Google Scholar 

  • NTDS public use dataset codebook. (2012). National Center for Transgender Equality.

  • National Transgender Discrimination Survey. (2012). National Center for Transgender Equality. Retrieved 10 April 2017 from http://www.transequality.org/issues/resources/national-transgenderdiscriminationsurveyfull-report.

  • Nownes, A. J. (2014). Interest groups and transgender politics: Opportunities and challenges. In J. K. Taylor & D. P. Haider-Markel (Eds.), Transgender rights and politics: Groups, issue framing, and policy adoption (pp. 83–107). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Perez, V. (2014). Political participation of LGBT Americans. Project Vote. Retrieved 5 June 2017 from http://www.projectvote.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/RESEARCH-MEMO-LGBTPARTICIPATION-June-20-2014.pdf.

  • Phillips, L., Reddick-Morgan, K., & Stephens, D. P. (2005). Oppositional consciousness within an oppositional realm: The case of feminism and womanism in rap and hip hop, 1976–2004. The Journal of African American History, 90(3), 253–277.

    Google Scholar 

  • Philpot, T. S., Shaw, D. R., & McGowen, E. B. (2009). Winning the race: Black voter turnout in the 2008 presidential election. Public Opinion Quarterly,73(5), 995–1022.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pinto, R. M., Melendez, R. M., & Spector, A. Y. (2008). Male-to-female transgender individuals building social support and capital from within a gender-focused network. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services,20(3), 203–220.

    Google Scholar 

  • Poteat, T., German, E., & Kerrigan, D. (2013). Managing uncertainty: A grounded theory of stigma in transgender health care encounters. Social Science and Medicine,84(1), 22–29.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rosenstone, S. J., & Hansen, J. M. (1993). Mobilization, participation, and democracy in America. London: Macmillan Publishing Company.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sandoval, C. (1991). US third world feminism: The theory and method of oppositional consciousness in the postmodern world. Genders,10(1), 1–24.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schur, L., Shields, T., & Schriner, K. (2005). Generational cohorts, group membership, and political participation by people with disabilities. Political Research Quarterly,58(3), 487–496.

    Google Scholar 

  • Shelton, J. (2015). Transgender youth homelessness: Understanding programmatic barriers through the lens of cisgenderism. Children and Youth Services Review,59(1), 10–18.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sherrill, K. (1996). The political power of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals. PS. Political Science & Politics,29(3), 469–473.

    Google Scholar 

  • Soriano, C., & Reyes, R. (2014). Constructing collectivity in diversity: Online political mobilization of a national lgbt political party. Media, Culture and Society,36(1), 20–36.

    Google Scholar 

  • Spade, D., & Currah, P. (2008). The state we’re in: Locations of coercion and resistance in trans policy part 2. Sexuality Research and Social Policy,5(1), 1–4.

    Google Scholar 

  • Steinmetz, K. (2015). Why it’s a big deal that Obama said ‘transgender.’ TIME. Retrieved 5 June 2017 from http://time.com/3676881/state-of-the-union-2015-barack-obamatransgender/.

  • Stieglitz, K. A. (2010). Development, risk, and resilience of transgender youth. Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care,21(3), 192–206.

    Google Scholar 

  • The GeniUSS Group. (2014). Best practices for asking questions to identify transgender and other gender minority respondents on population-based surveys. The Williams Institute. Retrieved 5 June 2017 from https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/geniuss-report-sep-2014.pdf.

  • Tadlock, B. L., Flores, A. R., Haider-Markel, D. P., Lewis, D. C., Miller, P. R., & Taylor, J. K. (2017). Testing contact theory and attitudes on transgender rights. Public Opinion Quarterly,81(4), 956–972.

    Google Scholar 

  • Taft, J. K. (2006). I’m not a politics person: Teenage girls, oppositional consciousness, and the meaning of politics. Politics & Gender,2(3), 329–352.

    Google Scholar 

  • Take action against anti-trans legislation now! (2016). National Center for Transgender Equality. Retrieved 5 June 2017 from http://www.transequality.org/action-center. .

  • Tate, K. (1994). From protest to politics: The new black voters in American elections. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Taylor, J. K., Lewis, D. C., Jacobsmeier, M. L., & DiSarro, B. (2012). Content and complexity in policy reinvention and diffusion: Gay and transgender-inclusive laws against discrimination. State Politics & Policy Quarterly,12(1), 75–98.

    Google Scholar 

  • Thought Catalog. (2012). Here are registration and voting instructions for all 50 states. Retrieved 7 September 2017 from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/thought-catalog/millennial-guide-tovoting_b_1897607.html.

  • Toomey, R. B., Caitlin, R., Rafael, M. D., Noel, A. C., & Stephen, T. R. (2013). Gender-nonconforming lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth: School victimization and young adult psychosocial adjustment. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity,1, 71–80.

    Google Scholar 

  • Transgender Law Center. (2012). Vice president Joe Biden: transgender discrimination ‘civil rights issue of our time.’ Transgender Law Center. Retrieved 7 September 2017 from http://transgenderlawcenter.org/archives/2312.

  • Verba, S., Kay, L. S., & Henry, E. B. (1995). Voice and equality: Civic voluntarism in American politics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Violence against the transgender community 2017. (2017). Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved 4 January 2018 from http://www.hrc.org/resources/violence-against-the-transgender-community-in-2017.

  • Voter identification laws by state. (2017). Ballotpedia. Retrieved 5 June 2017 from https://ballotpedia.org/Voteridentificationlawsbystate.

  • Watts, C. (2013). Road to the poll: How the Wisconsin voter id law of 2011 is disfranchising its poor, minority, and elderly citizens. Columbia Journal of Race & Law,3(1), 119.

    Google Scholar 

  • Willis, R. (2016). A history of the rise of anti-trans legislation in the United States. Rewire. Retrieved 20 October 2017 from https://rewire.news/article/2016/12/22/history-rise-anti-trans-legislation/.

  • Wolfinger, R. E., & Rosenstone, S. J. (1980). Who votes. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Melanie M. Bowers.

Appendices

Appendix A

See Table 3.

Table 3 Tests of multicollinearity

Appendix B

See Table 4.

Table 4 Logistic coefficients for voter registration among transgender and gender non-conforming individuals

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Bowers, M.M., Whitley, C.T. Assessing Voter Registration Among Transgender and Gender Non-conforming Individuals. Polit Behav 42, 143–164 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-018-9489-x

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-018-9489-x

Keywords

Navigation