New Ken­ne­saw State pres­i­dent de­fends anti-LGBT po­si­tions as AG

GA Voice - - Newsbriefs -

A new study es­ti­mates that due to strict voter ID laws, over 11,000 trans­gen­der Ge­or­gia vot­ers could be dis­en­fran­chised in the 2016 elec­tion. The num­ber rep­re­sents 39 per­cent of the 29,000 trans peo­ple in Ge­or­gia who are el­i­gi­ble to vote.

The study, au­thored by Wil­liams In­sti­tute Scholar Jody L. Her­man, Ph.D., shows that many trans peo­ple who have tran­si­tioned do not have iden­ti­fi­ca­tion that ac­cu­rately re­flects their cor­rect gen­der. Trans­gen­der peo­ple of color, youth, stu­dents, peo­ple with low in­come, and peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties are the most likely to be dis­en­fran­chised.

Ge­or­gia Equal­ity Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Jeff Gra­ham weighed in on the study, telling the Ge­or­gia Voice, “We’re cer­tainly very con­cerned about the abil­ity of trans folks to vote in Ge­or­gia. That’s ex­actly why four years ago we did cre­ate a re­source guide for trans vot­ers so they know their rights in Ge­or­gia.”

Gra­ham rec­om­mended vot­ing ab­sen­tee, say­ing, “If in­di­vid­u­als are al­ready reg­is­tered, that’s an op­tion for them to en­sure that they’re able to vote with­out any sort of ha­rass­ment. Ab­sen­tee bal­lots can be re­quested from the state of Ge­or­gia be­tween now and the end of Oc­to­ber. When vot­ing ab­sen­tee, it has to be mailed by Oct. 29 to be col­lected in time for the Nov. 8 elec­tion.”

Ge­or­gia Equal­ity’s Trans­gen­der Voter ID Tool­kit is avail­able at their web­site. For­mer Ge­or­gia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Sam Olens gave his first in­ter­view since be­ing named pres­i­dent of Ken­ne­saw State Univer­sity.

Olens spoke about the back­lash from the school’s LGBT stu­dents and fac­ulty at the news of his can­di­dacy and hir­ing, telling the AJC of his fight­ing mar­riage equal­ity, “So they weren’t my po­si­tions, they were the state’s po­si­tions. I took an oath of of­fice to de­fend the laws of the state and that’s what I did … So it’s not a per­sonal is­sue. It was my le­gal re­spon­si­bil­ity. I have a meet­ing set with lead­ing mem­bers of the LGBTQ com­mu­nity at Ken­ne­saw al­ready.”

When asked about fight­ing trans­gen­der equal­ity while at­tor­ney gen­eral, Olens re­sponded, “I rep­re­sented the state. There’s mil­lions of dol­lars in­volved from the state. I had clients from the state that were very in­ter­ested in that.”

Olens added that he will take the lead from the Board of Re­gents on is­sues like trans­gen­der in­di­vid­u­als be­ing al­lowed to use the bath­room that matches their gen­der iden­tity, say­ing “My job as KSU pres­i­dent … is to make sure there is a safe and cre­ative en­vi­ron­ment for all stu­dents on that cam­pus … It’s a to­tally dif­fer­ent po­si­tion. It’s a to­tally dif­fer­ent set of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

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