Christin Milloy:

Rise up and seize equality

Volunteers Needed for National Transgender Voting Rights Campaign


If you’re a Canadian citizen, you have the right to vote. Being Transgender shouldn’t change that, and activists across Canada have joined together to set up a non-partisan organization to ensure that every Trans person who wants to vote, can.

The project is called Trans Vote Canada, with the web domain votingwhiletrans.ca.

Close-up photo of a hand putting a ballot into a ballot box, which is labelled "Elections Canada"

Photo Credit: Elections Canada

It’s about helping every Trans person learn and know their voting rights, and where necessary, to provide the personal support that may be necessary to ensure that transphobia doesn’t interfere with anyone’s right to vote in this election.

They have also vowed to release “a report about Trans people’s experience at the polls” following the Election.

If you are Trans and want more information about your voting rights, how to handle situations with legal identification and gender on election day or even just have questions, you can access this service on the web or by calling their bi-lingual toll-free number at 1 (888) 978-5618.

The campaign’s website provides links to information released by Elections Canada and other organizations, and provides helpful summaries such as the following:

If you are using photo ID, it is acceptable if your appearance does not match the photo. If you register or vote in person, poll workers may ask why you do not resemble the photo.

If you are using two pieces of ID, it is acceptable if they have different sex indicators as long as they show the same name.

Volunteer Help is Needed

Trans Vote Canada needs help. They’re not asking for money, but they’ve put out a call for volunteers willing to donate their time and efforts to democracy. Volunteering is open to anyone, including Trans people and cis allies.

They are looking for all sorts of help, but some particular areas of need are people willing and able to directly assist and support voters in their local area (information on the voting rules are available in training materials from Trans Vote Canada). Volunteer coordinators with organization skills are also needed, as are volunteer language interpreters, people with legal experience, and general help spreading the word by social media.

Why This is Neccessary

As a Trans person, I’ve not only been embarassed while trying to vote, but almost stopped in my tracks. I’ve had my Trans status questioned loudly and publicly by polling staff, my identification documents scrutinized publicly with awkward questions asked in front of dozens of other voters— Who mostly lived in my neighbourhood. Now, I’m as stubborn as they come, and I know my legal rights. Regardless, in 2011 it took me 45 minutes to successfully vote in the Ontario provincial election due to confusion over ID and transphobia issues, despite the fact that my name was on the ballot that year. It is truly upsetting to think how many Trans people might be turned away from the polls this time around, or worse, might skip voting entirely because of the avoidable issues created by unequal access to ID in this country.

The people who run those polls are mostly well-meaning volunteers, and unfortunately a lot of them are simply ignorant when it comes to Trans issues. Staffers in 2011 told me they had received no training in dealing with non-cis voters. And, as of October 8th (eleven days until the Election), Trans issues appear to be entirely absent from the latest version of the Elections Canada training materials, while topics such as religious attire (that may cover the face) and physical accessibility issues are well-covered.

When you show up with an ID card that has the wrong name, wrong gender, or a photo of you in a different gender presentation than you express in person, problems can happen. But the fact is, if polling staff try to stop you from voting because of your ID issues, they are wrong, and that is the law in Canada.

Nevertheless, many Trans people will need help to push through those barriers on October 19th. Want to be a hero of democracy? Volunteer for the Trans Vote Canada campaign today.

One Comment

  1. Val
    Thursday, 2015.10.08 at 15:54

    I’m working a poll for Elections Canada. During the training, the topic of trans voters was brought up in the context of voter ID (both photo not matching appearance and name not appearing to match gender presentation). The instructions were good and centred on ensuring trans people are respected and able to vote. (I can only hope-though not expect- that the same was fine across the country.)

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Christin Milloy