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Obscure name law complicates transgender legislative bids in Ohio

By Jake Beardslee · January 18, 2024

In brief…

  • Transgender legislative candidate Arienne Childrey kept on Ohio ballot despite omitting previous name
  • Little-known law requires name change disclosures, has complicated transgender bids
  • Governor DeWine stated law should be fixed to not deny ballot access
Transgender legislative candidates in Ohio aim to stay on ballots and give voice to marginalized groups despite complications from a little-known name disclosure law.  Antony-22/Wikimedia

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Arienne Childrey, a transgender Democratic candidate running for a seat in Ohio’s Republican-majority House, will remain on the ballot after officials chose not to disqualify her for omitting her previous name from candidacy paperwork, reports the Associated Press.

Ohio law requires candidates to disclose any legal name changes within the past five years on petition paperwork when running for office. Childrey, who legally changed her name in 2020, said she would have provided her previous name, known as a “deadname” in the trans community, if she had known about the requirement. “I would have filled out whatever was necessary, because at the end of the day, while it would have been a hit to my pride, there is something much more important than my pride, and that’s fighting for this community,” Childrey stated, according to AP.

The little-known name disclosure law has tripped up all four transgender legislative candidates in Ohio this year. Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose said his office would consider adding the rule to the candidate requirements guide, but did not support changing the law itself. However, Republican Governor Mike DeWine stated, “We shouldn’t be denying ballot access for that reason. It certainly should be fixed.”

If elected, Childrey would likely face incumbent Rep. Angie King, who has backed anti-LGBTQ legislation. Childrey said she is ready to campaign and give marginalized communities in Ohio a voice. Other transgender candidates like Vanessa Joy and Bobbie Arnold have faced hurdles due to the name disclosure law but also aim to spur changes.