Day in the Life: Voting

I believe voting is important, but I always struggle with one thing. I feel like I must always vote along party lines, simply because the democratic platform sometimes views transgender issues as legitimate issues that should be addressed somehow. Republican platforms will (in my limited, PA experience) universally reject transgender issues. In my conservative little county, there was very little competition for the democratic positions – there were only two or three places where I actually had a choice between candidates. Still, I felt like voting was important. Also, it was a great chance to broaden some people’s horizons.

So I had a unique experience this year. First, I went with my girlfriend when she voted near her parent’s place. If you don’t know much about voting in Lancaster county, PA, I should mention many polling places are nice little christian churches. I understand that these are some of the only facilities capable of housing voting, but I still feel super uncomfortable seeing “HOUSE OF CHRIST” and several crosses as people are voting.

The next in the list of things that are odd about voting in conservative Lancaster are the people outside the polling stations. Now, until recently, I voted only in the presidential elections, so I am used to seeing a republican table and a democrat table, tensely keeping their distance from one another. However, at this primary, there were two tables, they were both republican. We were actually told at the first place we went to “Oh you’re democrat, I cant talk to you guys.” It was said in a teasing fashion, but still, the words had truth in them.

I was registered to vote at a municipal building, so I expected a little bit more equality. Still, there were just two republicans standing at the entrance to endorse their candidates. After talking to these people for a few moments, I came out. I had my girlfriend there, so I knew I had at least some more safety, and they wouldn’t team up on me (Yes, safety is something I always keep in mind when outting myself). I pretty much said “I’m a transgender bisexual woman, I typically vote along democratic lines, since republican candidates usually don’t see LGBT issues as important. What can your candidate offer me?” Watching the reactions of these two conservative people was rather priceless. The middle aged woman just stared at me, stunned, stuttering and shuffling papers. The older gentleman made some conversation about how the democrats hadn’t put forth a candidate, but he had no real answer. After I voted, I said thank you to both of them. It was interesting to watch their body language change as I passed, going from relaxed, tense, confused, stubborn, pretentious, then relaxed again.

Actually checking in for voting was not nearly as fun. I have learned that just jumping out and shouting “I’m trans!” doesn’t really do anything but make people uncomfortable and defensive. Instead, I try to spark conversation, lead it towards issues of social justice and equality, and then once I know no one is going to start shouting, I can be as blunt or subtle as I want to. However, with the four old women working the sign in, I had to skip the intro conversation and go right to stating my legal name, which is still my male name. So, as I’ve learned many people do when confronted outright with something that screams gender-non-conformity, they got defensive. They muttered comments like “Well sign here if this really is you.” I knew I wasn’t in any physical danger in a municipal building, but the rejection, isolation, and judgement these conservative workers showed definitely made voting a much more hostile experience than it should have been.

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1 Comment

  1. I sometimes miss the reactions I’d get when I outed myself. These days, I settle for ‘creeping out’ a couple friends whenever I shift my voice from my every-day-girl to deep-male.

    I, too, tend to vote all Dem, which I dislike, but you’re not wrong about standing a better chance getting equal rights if Dems are in power versus any other group, sadly.

    In my state, there was a large rally yesterday in the capitol as THOUSANDS showed up in support of a bill that would make gay marriage illegal, and make it illegal for any company to provide ‘domestic partner benefits’ to same sex couples.

    There were maybe ~100 LGBTQ counter-protesters, though rumor has it there will be another rally on the 3rd of June where we will be in majority, so we’ll see.

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