Transgender Ohio House candidate disqualified for not disclosing deadname


A transgender woman seeking an Ohio House seat has been disqualified for failing to declare her old name on voter petitions, in violation of a rarely enforced state regulation.

Vanessa Joy, who planned to run as a Democrat for Ohio House District 50, was warned by local election officials that she was ineligible to do so, despite having collected the required signatures.

Joy ran in a firmly Republican district that included Stark County, just south of Akron.

According to officials, Joy violated a little-known Ohio statute that requires applicants for public office to mention any name changes in the prior five years on signing petitions. The law, which was passed in 1995, offers various exceptions, including candidates who change their names after marriage.

Joy, who has legally changed her name and birth certificate, told News 5 Cleveland and the Ohio Capital-Journal on Wednesday that she was unaware of the rule until her name was pulled from the ballot. It is not mentioned in Ohio’s 2024 candidate requirement guide.

The person also stated that as a transgender woman, she should not be obliged or expected to publicly divulge her deadname, which was her name before transitioning.

“In the trans community, our deadnames are dead,” she went on to say.

Transgender Ohio House candidate disqualified for not disclosing deadname

Many in the LGBTQ community regard intentionally or repeatedly using a transgender or gender-nonconforming person’s deadname as an expression of hatred toward transgender people, and major social media platforms such as TikTok and Discord have banned deadnaming under their hateful conduct policies.

X, formerly known as Twitter, prohibited the practice until April when the restriction was discreetly lifted.

Joy went on to say that asking transgender candidates to include their deadnames on documents such as signature petitions would “undoubtedly” discourage other transgender persons from running for office.

The implementation of the law also comes at a critical juncture for transgender persons in Ohio, as the state legislature prepares to overturn Gov. Mike DeWine’s (R) veto of House Bill 68. Minors would be barred from receiving gender-affirming health care, and transgender athletes would be barred from competing on school sports teams that corresponded to their gender identity.

The office of Ohio House Majority Leader Bill Seitz (R) told The Hill on Wednesday that the House expects to have the votes needed to overturn DeWine’s veto. A vote is scheduled for Wednesday.

“The only thing we can do is fight back,” Joy said to local media. “That’s why there are so many trans candidates in Ohio.”

At least three more openly transgender candidates have entered the state House campaign. It is unclear whether they will be disqualified as well.

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