Here's how to avoid the pitfalls of voting when trans

Noah Halpin has put together some practical tips to make sure your vote is counted regardless of where you are in your gender affirmation journey.

A hand casting a vote putting a card with the trans flag in a box

We’re just a few weeks out from the next General Election and yes, your vote is important! If you are a trans person who has legally changed their name by deed poll and/or gender using the Gender Recognition Certificate since you first registered on the voting Register of Electors, here are some practical tips as to how you can change your information on the register. But be quick! Polling day is Saturday, February 8!

I am still registered in my birth name and gender but have since changed my name via Deed Poll and my gender via the Gender Recognition Certificate. How do I change my information?

Don’t worry! You can still ensure that the information on the voting register accurately reflects your identity! There are just a few simple steps you must take to change your information:

  • Identify your local authority (council) and look up their website or phone them to obtain an email address specific to the area within the council that handles queries on the voting register.
  • Scan or clearly photograph your Deed Poll and/or your Gender Recognition Certificate, along with an image of a current form of photo ID and send it in an email or by post, to the council stating that you have legally changed this information since you initially registered to vote, and wish to have the information changed.
  • Just to be safe, take with you to the Polling Station, your ID, your Polling Card and the correspondence between you and your local council.

I have never been registered to vote, but have legally changed my name and/or gender. What do I do?

This is very simple. You just register to vote like anyone else, you don’t need to send any additional details to your local council. You need to fill out a registration form.

Registration forms are available online at www.vote.ie or from your local post office, library, Garda station or local county council office. It is still possible to register on the Supplementary Register up to 14 working days before polling day. Supplementary forms (form RFA2) need to be witnessed by the Gardai. Make sure you send off your completed form in good time.

I am registered to vote, I am transgender, but I have not changed my name or gender legally. Can I still vote, and how?

Yes, of course you can still vote. You will need to vote under your birth name and gender. Presenting with an identity that is not your own can be difficult for many trans people, but please know that no questions of your identity should be asked at the polling station if you have with you, all of the required documents. Attend the polling station with your polling card and a valid form of government-issued photo identification. Cast your vote and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back!

If you are concerned that you look considerably different in the photo on your ID, and you are worried that this may raise questions in the polling station, please remember that all your paperwork is in order, your ID is still valid and there will be both presiding officers and members of the Gardai at all polling stations that will be willing to speak privately with you in the unlikely case that you might have difficulty.

I’m registered to vote, have legally changed my name and/or gender, but I’ve left it too late to change my information on the register, can I still vote?

This is a tricky situation, and sometimes it depends on an individual’s circumstances. But if you are registered, you are entitled to vote. How you decide to do that or not to do that is up to you and your personal boundaries. As long as your ID matches the information on your polling card/voting register, you can present to the polling station with valid ID and your polling card and cast your vote. Many people who have recently changed their name/gender legally, still hold ID with their birth information and as long as your ID matches the information on your polling card, you are entitled to vote.

I’m not registered to vote and I’ve left it too late to register. Can I still vote?

Unfortunately, just like everyone else who fails to register in time, you cannot vote. But all is not lost! Register now so that you can vote on important matters and elections going forward!

We trans people often experience questions based on a level of misunderstanding of our identities or of procedure relating to changing our details with local authorities and/or government departments. The main confusion that may occur for your local council, whom most likely will have dealt with this situation on very few occasions, is that they will direct you towards the ‘Change of Details’ form (Form RFA1). In this case, be strong in stating that this form only facilitates a change of name and address, and not a change of title and/or gender.

It can be tiring being our own advocates, but hopefully, we can be a source of education going forward!

Your vote is important. However way you decide to vote, your voice matters.

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