Transgender woman disqualified from House race in Ohio for not using former name

The Ohio Statehouse^ the state capitol building and seat of government for the U.S. state of Ohio. Columbus^ the United States

A transgender woman said she was disqualified from running for a seat in the Ohio House of Representatives because she did not disclose her former name, or ‘deadname’ (the name a trans person was given at birth and no longer uses after their gender transition.)

Former real estate photographer Vanessa Joy, 42, hoped to run as a Democrat and represent Ohio House District 50, but was disqualified when she failed to include her deadname. Ohio law requires people running for political office who have changed their name within the last five years to include their former names on candidacy petitions. While the law exempts people who have changed their name because of marriage, it does not mention exemptions for trans people who have changed their names.

Joy said she filed a petition Thursday to contest her disqualification, adding that she was unaware of the law. She told NBC News: “It’s a barrier to entry for many trans and gender-nonconforming people. Where I personally would have just bit the bullet and allowed my deadname to be on the petitions and likely on the ballot, for a lot of trans people, they don’t want their deadnames printed. It’s a safety concern for many … I wanted to give millennials, Gen X and Gen Z the courage to get out and vote and to run for office themselves. Because if they see a trans girl from very red Ohio running for public office, in a chamber full of people who despise me for my existence, they might have more courage to get out and vote and see that ‘maybe my vote will make a difference.’” 

Joy’s disqualification comes shortly after Ohio made national headlines over transgender issues, with Republican Gov. Mike DeWine vetoing a GOP-backed bill last week that would have restricted both transition-related care for minors and transgender girls’ participation on school sports teams.  DeWine’s veto was criticized by some Republicans, as well as former President Donald Trump, who wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social:  “DeWine has fallen to the Radical Left. No wonder he gets loudly booed in Ohio every time I introduce him at Rallies, but I won’t be introducing him any more. I’m finished with this ‘stiff.’ What was he thinking. The bill would have stopped child mutilation, and prevented men from playing in women’s sports. Legislature will hopefully overturn. Do it FAST!!!”   The veto is expected to be challenged by Ohio lawmakers in coming weeks.

Editorial credit: Leonid Andronov /

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