Ohio governor defends trans candidates & tells election officials to stop kicking them off ballots

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is an old white guy. In this pic, he's wearing a red striped tie, a blue blazer, and glasses. He smiles whole sitting in a daylit office with state flags and framed pictures on bookshelves behind him.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) Photo: ABC News screenshot

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has called for state election officials to stop disqualifying transgender political candidates from appearing on ballots. Officials have disqualified three trans Democratic candidates from appearing on ballots for the state legislature because the candidates failed to list their deadnames on the petitions to run for office.

Election officials have claimed that the disqualifications are legal and necessary to prevent candidates from running under aliases. But the disqualified candidates say the current rules create an unfair barrier that burdens and potentially endangers trans politicians.

The candidates — Arienne Childrey, Bobbie Arnold, and Vanessa Joy — had all been disqualified under the aforementioned rule. Arnold had her disqualification dismissed, and Childrey is challenging her disqualification. Joy, whose disqualification was upheld by a county election board, said she’s working with a lawyer and the state Democratic Party to change the law.

All three women said they decided to run to fight the wave of anti-trans legislation being introduced in their home state.

DeWine told Cleveland.com’s editorial board on Tuesday that changes are needed to ensure that trans candidates aren’t disqualified for not listing their deadnames on campaign paperwork. However, he said he wasn’t sure how to ensure that future candidates would follow the little-known law.

The 1995 law requires potential candidates to list any names they’ve used over the last five years, according to WSYX. The law was passed to ensure that candidates don’t run anonymously or under nicknames, false names, or aliases. The law — which isn’t listed in the state’s 33-page page candidate requirement guide — makes exceptions for candidates who changed their names after marriage.

Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose told the aforementioned news station that the law is necessary so voters know who is asking to be put on the ballot. He noted that the state’s candidate requirement guide doesn’t list every single rule that candidates should follow, and that candidates should consult legal counsel on additional rules that could affect them.

However, Joy said she felt the rule was selectively applied to keep her from running, saying, “[I’m] one of the first, if not the first, people that this law has been applied to in Ohio.” Childrey said the law puts a “bullseye” on trans political candidates.

“I would have had to have my deadname on my petitions,” Joy said. “But in the trans community, our dead names are dead; there’s a reason it’s dead — that is a dead person who is gone and buried.”

Trans Montana legislator Zooey Zephyr also told WSYX that, when she ran for office, anti-trans activists repeatedly tried to figure out her deadname in order to threaten people associated with it. The law will potentially endanger trans candidates despite LaRose’s defense of it, she added.

Sean Meloy, vice-president of political programs at the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, a group that helps elect queer political candidates, told The Guardian that the law disenfranchises both candidates and voters.

“It’s a whole other level to not even give voters the chance to vote for an LGBTQ candidate; it’s a new low that I don’t think we’ve seen yet,” Meloy said.

Childrey said that, even if her disqualification is upheld, she’ll run for office again.

“If I am kicked off the ballot, then I have every intention to refile for the very next election and I will do whatever they want,” Childrey said. “I will put my current name, my dead name, at what age I was potty trained. I don’t care what they want on the form. I will continue to fight this battle.”

Don't forget to share:

Good News is your section for queer joy! Subscribe to our newsletter to get the most positive and fun stories from the site delivered to your inbox every weekend. Send us your suggestions for uplifiting and inspiring stories.

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

Deranged right-winger threatened to slaughter LGBTQ+ activists. He’s going away for a long time.

Previous article

Transphobic legislator introduces bill to force kids to work full-time on farms

Next article