Trans woman ‘shatters the lavender ceiling’ in conservative West Virginia, making history as the state’s first openly trans official

Lily Wakefield June 10, 2020
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West Virginia trans official

Rosemary Ketchum will be one of four openly LGBT+ officials in West Virginia. (Rosemary Ketchum/ Twitter)

West Virginia elected its first-ever openly trans official on Tuesday, June 9, making history and “shattering the lavender ceiling”.

Rosemary Ketchum, a trans woman, was elected as councilwoman and won her bid for the third ward seat in Wheeling City, West Virginia.

When she assumes her role on July 1, she will become one of only 27 openly trans elected officials in the whole of the United States, and one of four out LGBT+ officials in her state.

According to The Intelligencer Wheeling News-Register, Ketchum said that although her gender identity was not a large part of her campaign and she thinks that “people had a lot more going on than thinking about a transgender candidate”, her election “matters a lot”.

She said: “I’m incredibly excited and grateful. I know this was a close race.

“I think it shows how much people care about the third ward… I’m excited to fulfil the promises I made and work for the third ward and and the entire city of Wheeling.”

Ketchum, an active community organiser who works at the National Alliance for Mental Illness, said on her campaign website: “From addiction to homelessness, I work every day to create real community-based solutions to some of our biggest problems.

“I believe that we must work WITH our community members to solve problems rather than without them or worse – against them.”

Mayor Annise Parker, president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which backed Ketchum’s campaign, said in a statement: “Rosemary has shattered a lavender ceiling in West Virginia and will join the growing number of out trans elected officials serving nationwide.

“Trans people are severely underrepresented in elected office – with just 26 out trans officials anywhere in the country – so Rosemary’s victory will resonate well beyond her state.

“We know Rosemary’s race will inspire other trans people from conservative states to consider a run for office in their communities – and then those candidates will inspire others as well.

“That virtuous cycle is the key to building trans acceptance and political power long-term.”

Related topics: Councilwoman, LGBTQ Victory Fund

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