I've seen this a lot at events aimed at diversity and inclusion in the tech industry, specifically. We're so eager to just take whatever free venue we can get that we're willing to put attendee safety and comfort on the line, or even discourage transgender people from attending.
Simply put, if you're a meetup group that requires me to tell you my legal name in order to attend, I won't go to your event, and I will actively dissuade other trans folks from going. Period.
It shows that you don't have concern for our safety and basic needs.
But Fen! I can't afford a better venue!
Tough shit, honestly? If your venue had like, idk, an unstable shaky floor or a constantly leaking roof, you wouldn't say "oh well, it was free", would you? You'd care about safety then, right? You'd find a better venue. (or reschedule)
You'd be SHOCKED at how often venues providing spaces to meetup groups are just like... willing to change policies for you if you just explain the issue. Every single tech meetup space I've worked with in Chicago has been willing to change their policy when asked.
(Full disclosure: Worked with as in personally organized an event at or was a featured speaker at, at least in the last year-ish since I started asking. Just because you've attended an event with me in Chicago doesn't mean I've asked.)
But still, my point still stands. Don't just throw your hands in the air and go "oh well!" when a venue tells you that you'll need to collect legal names for attendees. Explain to them why this is important for trans attendees.
Companies and venues donate space to organizations because it's good PR and (maybe) because they actually care about the group. They want to look good. Help them look good by caring about your trans attendees.
Organizers, try a message like this:
Thanks again for providing venue space! We unfortunately are not comfortable asking attendees for legal names, as it can be uncomfortable, un-welcoming, and unsafe for transgender attendees. What can we do to change this requirement?
And like, to be clear. I get it! I totally understand why many places need to see IDs! I'm not saying that businesses and buildings shouldn't need legal IDs! If you're hosting an event open to the public, seriously consider finding a different venue, though.
Hint: if you're an organization aimed at diversity and inclusion, especially one aimed at marginalized genders or LGBTQ people, you need to care about the safety of trans people.
As a trans person attending an event and needing to share my legal name, I'm immediately on edge. Will these people decide that I'm "just a woman" or "not trans" or "faking it" when they see my legal name? Will they use the wrong pronouns because of my legal name?
Or will I get turned away from the event from not looking like my actual ID? Or will they print a name badge with my legal name on it and not my actual name? Or will an organizer decide to just call me by my legal name?
And before you ask, no, these aren't fake worries. These have all happened, several times to me.
(Okay I haven't been turned away for not looking like a [deadname], but I've had security people hassle me for not looking like my ID and legal name, and then let me in.)
This world is structurally and systemically hostile to transgender people. Please just make it a little bit better by doing your part. If you organize events and can find literally any other venue or get them to change their legal ID policy, do it.
If you wanna learn more about trans inclusion, check out my guide to using pronoun buttons at events. Maybe throw me some money for it, it's pay-what-you-want.
And a thread on accessibility tips for event organizers with no budget:
Aaaaaand my talk about how to ask people about gender, sex, names, and pronouns on forms. Includes a history lesson about how information is powerful and the basic message of "take only what you need."
My talk on how to ask about gender, sex, names, and pronouns on forms: