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ID Documents

Identity documents (IDs), like driver’s licenses or birth certificates, are so commonplace in our everyday life that many people don’t notice how important they are. Identity documents are vital keys necessary to unlock the doors to everything from driving a car and getting a library card to opening a bank account, getting a job, and, increasingly, voting.

Despite the clear importance of IDs, there are key system-level failures that make it too difficult for many people to get and maintain accurate identity documents. This in turn leads to severe, yet easily avoidable, harms for many people of all backgrounds—though these harms often impact different communities in different ways. Importantly, however, these systems-level failures and roadblocks can be fixed.

MAP's report, The ID Divide: How Barriers to ID Impact Different Communities and Affect Everyone, and its accompanying resources below highlight systems-level solutions that can improve access to IDs. Through clear, achievable ID policies that promote public safety and good governance, people can have their basic needs met and have an equal opportunity to participate in civic and everyday life. 

Related Resources

Report

The ID Divide: How Barriers to ID Impact Different Communities and Affect us all

November 2022 - This report illustrates clear, achievable ID policies that promote public safety and good governance while still ensuring that people can have their basic needs met and have an equal opportunity to participate in civic and everyday life.

Map

Democracy Maps: Voter ID Requirements for In-Person Voting

In a majority of states, voters show some form of identification when casting their ballot in-person. States that do not require some form of ID typically ask for a signature or other identifying information to confirm the voter’s eligibility.

Map

Equality Maps: Identity Document Laws and Policies

These maps illustrate the state laws and administrative polices governing the processes by which an individual can change the gender marker on their driver's license and/or birth certificate to accurately reflect their gender identity, sometimes including intrusive and outdated requirements, such as proof of sex reassignment surgery and court orders.

Infographic

Identity Documents and Black Communities

November 2022 - Infographic that highlights some of the ID obstacles that uniquely impact Black communities.

Infographic

Identity Documents and Indigenous and Native Communities

November 2022 - Infographic that highlights some of the ID obstacles that uniquely impact Indigenous and Native communities.

Infographic

Identity Documents and Transgender and Nonbinary Communities

November 2022 - Infographic that highlights some of the ID obstacles that uniquely impact transgender and nonbinary people.

Infographic

Identity Documents and Immigrant Communities

November 2022 - Infographic that highlights some of the ID obstacles that uniquely impact immigrant communities.

Infographic

Identity Documents and Low-Income Communities

November 2022 - Infographic that highlights some of the ID obstacles that uniquely impact low-income communities.

Infographic

Identity Documents and People Experiencing Homelessness or Housing Insecurity

November 2022 - Infographic that highlights some of the ID obstacles that uniquely impact people experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity.

Infographic

Identity Documents and Formerly Incarcerated People

November 2022 - Infographic that highlights some of the ID obstacles that uniquely impact formerly incarcerated people.

REPORT

LGBTQ Policy Spotlight: Mapping LGBTQ Equality in the U.S. South

May 2020 - This report details how a dearth of progressive laws and policies in 14 Southern states has led to distinct challenges along with unique opportunities for advancing legal equality for LGBTQ people in the region.

Report

Mapping LGBTQ Equality: 2010 to 2020

February 2020 - This report offers a fresh perspective on the current legal status of LGBTQ people and tallies nearly 40 LGBTQ-related laws and policies across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories.

Report

Where We Call Home: Transgender People in Rural America (Full Report)

November 2019 - This report includes original analysis of the unique challenges and opportunities for transgender people in rural America.

Report

Mapping Transgender Equality in the United States

February 2017 - To help make sense of the current policy landscape in the states, this report looks at legal equality for transgender people across the country. The gender identity tally is comprised of 25 state laws and policies in five key categories: Non-Discrimination, LGBT Youth, Health and Safety, Ability to Correct the Name and Gender Marker on Identity Documents, and Adoption and Parenting.

Report

LGBT Policy Spotlight: Identity Documents Laws and Policies

November 2015 - This LGBT Policy Spotlight examines the state laws and policies that govern the processes by which transgender people are able to correct the name and gender marker on their identity documents to match the gender the person lives every day. The brief includes common sense policy recommendations to help ensure transgender people can access accurate identity documents.

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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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