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West Virginia elects its first ever out trans official

West Virginia elects its first ever out trans official

  • Rosemary Ketchum ‘has shattered a lavender ceiling’ to become one of just 26 openly trans elected officials in the US.
Rosemary Ketchum.

Rosemary Ketchum has just won a seat on Wheeling City Council, becoming the first out trans person to win an election in West Virginia.

She becomes one of only 26 out trans elected officials serving anywhere in the US. Meanwhile, she is only the fourth LGBT+ elected official in West Virginia.

Ketchum has promised to use her term in office to advocate for affordable housing, tackle homelessness, combat addiction, and try to improve public transport.

However, she will also be a symbol for LGBT+ rights in West Virginia. It remains a relatively conservative state which doesn’t have anti-discrimination protections covering sexual orientation and gender identity.

Ketchum noted this double role in an interview with local newspaper The Intelligencer last year.

She said: ‘I feel excited to represent inclusivity — but I’m not making my campaign about my gender identity.

‘We have too many systemic problems we have to address, including homelessness, including addiction, including disenfranchisement.

‘People don’t feel like they are part of their community, and one of the things we have to focus on is why people are not feeling like part of the change.

‘There are folks who were born in the city and can no longer afford to live here. There are folks living on our streets and under our bridges who don’t have access to public restroom facilities.

‘We have folks looking for work but don’t have a car and our public transportation system doesn’t run past 6pm.’

Rosemary will inspire other trans candidates

The LGBTQ Victory Fund backed Ketchum’s campaign and president Annise Parker sent her congratulations.

She said: ‘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.’

Ketchum beat three other candidates to represent Ward 3 on Wheeling City Council.