The Country’s First-Ever Trans Voting Center Is Now Open in Los Angeles

This week, Los Angeles opened a history-making polling place inside West Hollywood’s Connie Norman Transgender Empowerment Center (CONOTEC). It marks the first time a voting location has opened in a trans-centered facility in the U.S., according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

The location opened this past Saturday, and will serve as an official polling place through Tuesday for the Presidential primary as well as a handful of municipal and special elections. It will also be available as a polling place for the general election this November. While anyone may vote at the center, its mission is to provide “a safe and empowering place for transgender, non-binary and LGBTQA+ community members,” per CBS News.

Trans voters encounter a number of obstacles when attempting to cast their ballots. Before the 2022 midterm elections, the Williams Institute released a study that found that over 200,000 trans Americans were at risk of facing barriers to voting because they did not have IDs with their correct name or gender. According to the nonprofit organization VoteRiders, 13 states have strict voter ID laws that require voters to confirm their identities with a form of ID when voting in person, with nine of those states requiring photo identification specifically.

In two of those states — Georgia and Tennessee — trans people must provide proof of surgery, court order, or an amended birth certificate to get their ID gender marker changed. In Kansas, trans people are forbidden from amending the gender marker on their birth certificates or licenses. While California does not require voters to show identification (although first-time California voters may be required to show identification to vote in a federal election), a trans-specific voting center will still serve to alleviate community members’ anxieties, both in Los Angeles and nationwide, as City Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky explained in a statement to the Daily News.

“As extremists across the country continue their endless attacks on both the LGBT community and our democracy, Los Angeles must stand as a beacon of hope,” she said in the statement. “I want to thank CONOTEC for opening this voting center and for the critical work they do every day to support the needs of the Los Angeles transgender and nonbinary community.”

CONOTEC in and of itself is a historic location; its website calls it “the first facility of its kind nationwide serving Trans and Non-Binary individuals and communities of, by and for Trans and nonbinary people.” The center serves as a home for a number of trans-led advocacy and service organizations, including FLUX, TransCanWork, the Unique Women’s Coalition, and more.

Get the best of what’s queer. Sign up for Them’s weekly newsletter here.