Transgender woman makes history with election win in West Virginia

An openly transgender woman has made history in West Virginia with her election to city council. She says she’s proud of her state for bucking the stigma.

Rosemary Ketchum, 26, was elected Wednesday to represent Ward 3 on the Wheeling City Council in West Virginia. She is the first transgender woman to be elected into office in the state and one of only 27 in the whole country.

Ketchum campaigned for the seat for a year, pushing for the city to tackle homelessness and vacant properties. She beat out three other candidates.

“To make criticisms about the promises I’ve made or the positions that I hold, that’s fair game. But talking about a person’s identity is incredibly vulnerable, and I don’t think we have a space for that,” Ketchum said.

Ketchum says that being transgender in West Virginia for 26 years builds thick skin, but most of the response she has received has been positive.

“You never anticipate to go viral; however, I feel really good about it. The response has been incredible, and one of the things I am most proud of is that we are really beating back the stigma that people hold for the folks of West Virginia,” she said.

Ketchum officially begins representing her ward on July 1. She says it’s all still setting in.

Donald Wolfe

Donald’s writings have appeared in HuffPost, Washington Examiner, The Saturday Evening Post, and The Virginian-Pilot, among other publications. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia. He is the Virginian Tribune's Publisher.

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