Equality Texas urges citizens to oppose gender marker bill

Posted on 26 Apr 2007 at 9:13pm
By Staff Reports

Houston transgender activist, lawyer Phyllis Frye warns that Voter ID Act passed by House could keep transgender citizens from voting



Phyllis Frye says many transgender people cannot afford the expense of changing legal documents to match their physical appearance.

Advocates for LGBT rights this week called on the community and its allies statewide to contact their senators in the Texas Legislature to express opposition to the Voter ID Act passed by the Texas House of Representatives on Monday, April 23.

The measure would make it more difficult for hundreds of thousands of citizens to vote in Texas, according to Paul E. Scott, executive director of Equality Texas, because a difference between gender markers on IDs and a person’s gender identity or expression could provide a reason to deny a person ballot access.

Even if a person’s name and gender markers match their IDs, photo IDs might not match a person’s appearance at polling stations, Scott said.

Texas transgender activist and lawyer Phyllis Frye of Houston also urged citizens to let their legislators know they oppose the measure.

“Transgender people cannot always afford to change their legal documents, and in many cases face hostile courts when trying to do so,” Frye said. “This Voter ID Act would mean transgender voters will show up at the polls and be refused their right to vote because their ID may not match their name or gender.”

Scott said the bill could “wreak havoc with transgender persons’ ability to vote.”

“With so many barriers already in place to achieving name and gender marker changes on legal documents, thousands of transgender Texans will now have to fear that their vote will not count,” Scott said.

Scott said Equality Texas supports State Rep. Garnet Coleman’s Gender Marker Bill, which would allow a court to change a person’s name and gender marker on a driver’s license and birth certificate with a doctor’s sworn affidavit. Coleman is a Democrat from Houston.

Transgender people live their lives expressing a gender different than the gender assigned at birth, yet most will not or cannot opt for gender reassignment surgery, Scott said to explain the importance of the bill.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, April 27, 2007.

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