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Trans voters are being ‘blocked from registering’ in the UK

Meka Beresford May 21, 2017

Ballots are counted by count staff at the Mid-Ulster count for the Northern Ireland Assembly elections in Ballymena, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland, on March 3, 2017.

A number of transgender people have reported being blocked from registering to vote ahead of the UK General Elections.

In the online registration form, people are required to enter their National Insurance number as part of the identification process.

However, some transgender people who have legally changed their name have reported that when they enter the number an error message is flagged up which claims that the NI number used it “protected”.

One trans man explained that the error re-occurred every time he tried to submit the form.

He explained: “You register to vote online – or at least I tried. When I put in my details and my new name that I changed a year ago, and when it got to the NI number part of the process every time I entered it, it said: “this national insurance number has been protected.”

“So basically an error kept occurring where I needed to enter a different national insurance number, which I don’t have. It feels like I’m not a person, it just feels like I’m less than everyone else.”

The “protected” error refers to a protected NI number which allows some people, such as celebrities or victims of crime, to vote anonymously.

Having a protected NI number means that the person would need to document evidence of their identity, which poses a challenge to some trans people as it is increasingly difficult to attain a Gender Recognition Certificate without having met some requirements.

The anonymous man explained that when he contacted local officials, they were at a loss to how to fix the error.

“They just didn’t know what to do,” he explained. “I can’t register because I can’t ‘prove my identity’, even though I have documents. Because I don’t have a Gender Recognition Certificate it’s not enough.”

Another woman, who encountered a similar issue because of a “protected” NI number, said that she was put under this categorisation by the Tax Office, despite not asking for it.

When she tried to resolve the issue by registering in person at her local county council, she was unable to register because she did not have the certificate.

The Electoral Commission said that no guidance would be offered to local councils surrounding the matter.

“It is possible to register to vote without a National Insurance Number and the Electoral Commission provides local authorities with comprehensive guidance that outlines the processes they should follow if an applicant does not supply them with one,” a spokesperson said.

Since the snap general election was called for June 8, politicians have faced a slew of surprising stories.

The Conservative candidate for Hove and Portslade was revealed to have claimed that she cured a deaf man through the use of prayer.

The former Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight was forced to step down after telling school student it is “wrong” to be gay.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron also agonised over a question of whether gay sex is a sin, before eventually revealing his view to the BBC, two years after first being asked.

More: General Election 2017, LGBT, register to vote, Trans, Transgender, UK General Election 2017, vote

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