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HomeU.S.Transgender Candidate in Ohio Is Disqualified for Not Disclosing Birth Name

Transgender Candidate in Ohio Is Disqualified for Not Disclosing Birth Name

Vanessa Joy, a state House candidate, asserted she was unaware of a statute requiring candidates to disclose their previous homes on nomination papers. 

**Ohio Challenges Transgender Rights**  

Concerns were raised that transgender candidates would encounter particular obstacles abroad when the Ohio Legislature disqualified a transgender woman from running for office for failing to include her previous name on her election application. In a letter on Tuesday, the election board notified Vanessa Joy, a Democrat running for state senate from Ohio’s 50th district in Stark County, that she was eliminated from the contest. 

The board granted Joy until Friday afternoon to file an appeal, citing a state statute requiring candidates for public office to disclose any name changes made within the previous five years on their candidature papers. According to Joy, who hopes to be among Ohio’s first openly transgender public officials, she appealed the board’s ruling and intended to file a lawsuit against the statute. The transgender person’s birth name is referred to as “shoot me and put my dead name in front of my legal name,” the speaker stated. 

“I might have done it because I care enough about being on the ballot, but it’s a huge barrier for transgender people,” she said, bringing up the fact that many transgender people have altered their birth names out of fear for their safety. In her appeal letter, Ms. Joy emphasised that the statute was not included in Ohio’s candidate handbook, and the county election board showed no concern when she turned in numerous signatures to be placed on the ballot. 

**A Matter of Parity**  

 In addition, she claimed that the law was “applied unequally.” At least two more transgender legislative candidates in Ohio this year will be listed on ballots without mentioning their former identities, despite the restrictions of the law, according to backing from the national organisation LGBTEQ+. It’s unclear if those candidates had changed their names in the last five years, the organisation said. Joy, 42, was raised in a traditional Christian home. After her father passed away two years prior, she came out as transgender, but she stated that she would not have chosen to be transgender. She even quit her position as head of her family’s construction business to pursue a career in photography. 

**Publicity and Advocacy**  

She explained that Republicans have pushed a wave of laws across the nation to restrict medical care for transgender people, control which public restrooms they can use, and decide which youth sports teams they can play on. For these reasons, she decided to publicly announce her transition on social media and podcasts. She continued, “In Ohio, Republicans have a full majority, and I want to inspire other people my age to come out, run, or vote.” “If they can see a trans girl running for office in rural Ohio, maybe they’ll say, okay, I can do that too.” 

**A Californian Scholar’s Perspective on the Right to Vote**  

Voting rights expert Professor Rick Hassan of the University of California, Los Angeles stated that the Ohio bill had a useful purpose. “They were trying to hide their history, similar to some embarrassing incidents,” he said, highlighting how crucial it is to know voters’ backgrounds.  

**A Look Back at Voting Rights in History**  

According to Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University Professor Atiba Ellis, “many laws that appeared neutral faced challenges and were eventually invalidated” in American history. Regarding the politically unfriendly Ohio climate towards transgender people, he stated, “It raises concerns about this becoming a new mechanism for disenfranchisement.”  

**Ohio’s Reaction to the Debate**  

Melanie Amato, a spokesman for Ohio’s Secretary of State, admitted knowledge of the problem. “This law applies to everyone, and there is currently no discussion about amending it,” she said in an email. The LGBTQ+ Victory Fund’s Vice Chair of Political Programmes, Shawn Meloy, reports that a record number of transgender candidates ran for and were elected to office in 2018. She anticipates that this trend will continue through 2024.  

**Transgender Representation: A Broader View**   

Meloy noted that it’s unclear how many other states have legislation akin to Ohio’s that would make these candidates more difficult to win. As per the database maintained by the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, there were no openly transgender lawmakers in the US in 2017. At least 14 transgender people are serving in the military this year. 

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