A transgender woman sued the state of North Carolina and Mecklenberg County claiming emotional stress when an election official last November asked to see the individual’s identification “because your face doesn’t match your name,” the Charlotte Observer reported Wednesday.
The individual, identified only as Jane Doe, is claiming $25,000 in damages, saying her rights of equal protection were denied when a chief precinct judge required identification for her to use a curbside voting area established for people with disabilities.
The Observer did not report on whether the transgender woman had a physical disability.
A lengthy debate followed, which drew a crowd of onlookers, the lawsuit said, before the individual was allowed to vote after about an hour. However, Doe was left “crying and trying to hide” from bystanders around her car.
Charlotte attorney Faith Fox, who filed the lawsuit, said her 28-year-old client has identified as a female since age 4, and has lived as one since 14. She is in the process of legally changing her name, Fox said.
Fox said Doe’s driver’s license includes a photo consistent with her female identify, but has a typically male name.
Mecklenburg County elections director Michael Dickerson told WSOC that the official should not have asked anyone for an ID, since it wasn’t required by state law, but that the staff member will not be disciplined.
“Generally speaking, you do not show ID,” he said, adding that 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.”
“We have all been through sensitivity training for photo identification,” Dickerson told reporters in November. He was referring to a 2016 state law, later overturned, that had required voters to have identification.
Fox’s complaint claims 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 drivers license documents.”
It claims elections officials violated the state constitution, were negligent in their hiring practices and intentionally inflicted emotional distress.
North Carolina voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2018 requiring identification to vote which was to go into effect this year. However, a federal judge in December blocked the measure from taking effect in the March 3 primary.