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13-08-2018 | Original Paper | Issue 1/2020

Political Behavior 1/2020

Assessing Voter Registration Among Transgender and Gender Non-conforming Individuals

Journal:
Political Behavior > Issue 1/2020
Authors:
Melanie M. Bowers, Cameron T. Whitley

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.

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