A transgender woman sued the state of North Carolina and Mecklenburg County. After an election official asked to see identification “because your face doesn’t match your name,” the transgender woman wanted $25,000.
Charlotte attorney Faith Fox filed a lawsuit against the state of North Carolina and Mecklenburg County on behalf of a 28-year-old transgender woman after the trans woman was asked for identification while voting in November 2019. The request allegedly caused the trans woman emotional distress after an election official said “your face doesn’t match your name,” the Charlotte Observer reported.
The transgender woman, identified only as Jane Doe, is claiming $25,000 in damages and alleging her rights of equal protection were denied when the chief precinct judge required identification. Although the Observer did not report whether the transgender woman had a physical disability, they said she was using a curbside voting area established for people with disabilities when the incident occurred.
While attempting to vote, an election official asked to see the transgender woman’s ID, allegedly “because your face doesn’t match your name.” The 28-year-old client, who has identified as a female since age 4 and lived as one since 14, has a typically male name, and is in the process of legally changing her name, attorney Faith Fox explained. In the meantime, her driver’s license includes a photo consistent with her female identity and the individual’s legal, typically male name.
“The chief judge came out and said, ‘I need ID,’ and I said, ‘What is the issue?'” the woman recalled, according to WCOSTV. “(She) then says to me, ‘The issue is your face doesn’t match your name.’ I said, ‘Why must you see my ID when it’s not a requirement?’ She looks at me, eyeball to eyeball, (and says), ‘For you, it’s a requirement.’ I said, ‘Well, why me? Is it because I’m transgender?'”
After the election official made the request, a lengthy debate followed, allegedly drawing a crowd of onlookers, according to the lawsuit. After about an hour, the transgender woman was finally allowed to vote, but not before the situation left her “crying and trying to hide” from bystanders around her car.
Although North Carolina voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2018 requiring identification to vote, a federal judge blocked the measure from taking effect. So, at the time of the incident in question, the election official should not have asked anyone for an ID since it wasn’t required by law, according to Mecklenburg County elections director Michael Dickerson.
“Generally speaking, you do not show ID,” Dickerson explained, adding that election staff will go through sensitivity training. “We just want to make sure that everybody is aware of the sensitivity needs of a lot of people.” Of course, that wasn’t enough for the transgender woman involved, who believes she deserves $25,000 for the pain she was caused.
According to Fox, transgender voters are susceptible to unique challenges “as they are consistently and illegally denied the opportunity to have their appropriate sex or gender designation reflected on any birth certificate or driver’s license documents.” Her complaint also claims that elections officials violated the state constitution, were negligent in their hiring practices, and intentionally inflicted emotional distress.
While this incident may be troublesome to the transgender woman involved, it should be even more bothersome to those worried about the integrity of our elections. What was just said with this case is that a person, appearing to be a woman, can vote under the name of a man and if anyone raises any questions, they could end up in hot water. That shouldn’t be okay with anyone who wants to ensure their vote matters. Of course, we don’t want to promote discrimination, either.
If everyone was asked for identification — like the amendment, passed by the voters, requires — this would’ve been avoided. After all, the transgender woman and her attorney said her ID matched both her female appearance and her typically male name. If everyone was required to show ID, she would have done so, preventing any confusion, and been permitted to vote without question. Is that more reasonable than having just anyone vote without any proof that they are who they say they are? North Carolina voters apparently thought so.