With the first statewide referendum on transgender rights headed to the ballot in Massachusetts this November, The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) Action Fund has launched a massive campaign to bring transgender voters to the polls.
On Thursday, NCTE announced TRANSForm The Vote, a nationwide effort to combat trans voter disenfranchisement by educating trans people about ID voting requirements and operating registration drives. The organization says it will couple those efforts with phone banking and a social media campaign to draw attention to critical policy issues facing trans people from coast to coast.
“If we want to reach the more equitable future we have always dreamed of, transgender people and our allies can and must make a difference in this and every election,” said NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling in a statement. “In order to change the conditions faced by transgender people across the country, our voices and our votes must be at the heart of that change. We have to stand together and we have to fight together, but none of that matters this year unless we vote together.”
The announcement comes on the heels of a jaw-dropping report by the LGBTQ think tank The Williams Institute earlier this month revealing that 78,000 transgender people could be disenfranchised during the midterm elections due to voter ID laws.
To combat that, The NCTE Action Fund will distribute voting guides in English and Spanish. The group is also pushing social media videos featuring TV star Jazz Jennings and Supergirl’s Nicole Maines.
“I think we are trying to remain optimistic that we reach thousands, if not hundreds of thousands,” Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, director of external relations for the Action Fund, told INTO. “The trans community is very digitally focused.”
NCTE reports that there are 1.4 million transgender people of voting age in the nation. The campaign, however, aims to reach beyond trans voters in activating their friends, family and allies. That could be critical in states like Massachusetts which faces the country’s first ever statewide referendum on transgender rights.
In November, the Bay State will decide on whether or not to keep gender identity protections in public accomodations that took effect in 2016. Advocates have warned the measure has a sobering 50 percent chance of success, and that its outcome could be a bellwether for transgender rights across the nation.
Gillian Branstetter, NCTE media relations manager, said Massachusetts will be a key target of the campaign going into November.
“It’s more important than ever for transgender people to see the impact that they can have at the ballot box and the impact that not showing up can have and not voting can have,” said Branstetter. “If 2016 taught us anything, it’s that elections matter.”
The NCTE Action Fund, the political arm of the transgender advocacy organization NCTE, was launched just under a year ago at a time of deep uncertainty for transgender rights in the U.S. Branstetter said the Fund will continue the TRANSForm The Vote campaign beyond November.
Those wanting to follow the campaign can do so at transformthevote.org or by following the hashtag #votingwhiletrans on social media. More information about ID requirements is available on the NCTE voting checklist.