A transgender biological male who identifies as a woman has been disqualified from the Ohio House race for not disclosing the name given to him at birth.
Vanessa Joy, 50, a Democrat, was hoping to run for Ohio House District 50 and had collected the required signatures.
Under Ohio law, candidates for public office are required to disclose any name changes that they have made in the last five years. There are multiple exceptions, including for candidates who changed their name because of marriage, but being transgender is not one of them.
The law, passed in 1995, states:
If any person desiring to become a candidate for public office has had a change of name within five years immediately preceding the filing of his statement of candidacy, both his statement of candidacy and nominating petition must contain, immediately following the person’s present name, the person’s former names. Any person who has been elected under the person’s changed name, without submission of the person’s former name, shall be immediately suspended from the office and the office declared vacated, and shall be liable to the state for any salary the person has received while holding such office. The attorney general in the case of candidates for state offices, the prosecuting attorney of the most populous county in a district in the case of candidates for district offices, and the prosecuting attorney of the county in the case of all other candidates shall institute necessary action to enforce this section.
There are at least four people who identify as transgender running for state representative positions in Ohio. News 5 reports, “At least two of the other trans candidates running also didn’t know the law, and didn’t include their dead names, but both were certified by their boards.”
News 5 Cleveland reports:
Joy is also the stepdaughter of state Rep. Bill Roemer (R-Richfield), but the two do not have a relationship and have never met. Although the Republican hasn’t sponsored or cosponsored legislation impacting the trans community, he has voted in favor of legislation banning trans youth from having gender-affirming care and participating in athletics. He is one of the Republicans she wants to fight back against.
But she just learned she won’t be on the ballot.
“I would have had to have my dead name 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.”
“Dead names” are what the transgender community calls their birth names after they have been changed.
Case Western Reserve University elections law professor Atiba Ellis told the local station, “It would be fair for the candidate to disclose their identity including prior names so that the people and their representatives in the state government would be able to vet that person and know exactly who they are.”
Joy has complained that he was not aware of the law and it was not in the candidate handbook.
Tragic: Trans-identified state rep. candidate Vanessa Joy won’t be allowed on the ballot in Ohio for failing to disclose a name change.
This is a shameful injustice. He should’ve been rejected for pretending to be a woman, not for some obscure name law. Do better Ohio. pic.twitter.com/pZc3tJLiNq
— Expose Them (@ExposeDarkDeeds) January 4, 2024
“Something that is that important should have been on the instructions,” the candidate said. “It should have been on the petition.”
Joy is questioning whether the law was selectively enforced to target him.
“If it is selectively enforced, that raises the question of whether the use of such provisions would be discriminatory,” Ellis added.
The candidate has until tomorrow to appeal.