Rosemary Ketchum has shattered the lavender ceiling in West Virginia.
With her election last night to a seat to represent Ward 3 on the Wheeling City Council, Ketchum becomes the first out trans elected official in the state's history. she defeated three other candidates in the nonpartisan election and will become only the 27th out trans elected officials in the country, and one of only four LGBTQ+ officials in the state when she takes office next month.
“Rosemary has shattered a lavender ceiling in West Virginia and will join the growing number of out trans elected officials serving nationwide,” Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement. “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.”
Ketchum is a 2019 graduate from Wheeling Jesuit University, and currently works as the director of NAMI of Greater Wheeling, which is an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She is active in the local community as a member of the Wheeling Human Rights Commission and the board of directors for the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia.
A recent study by The Williams Institute of the University of California, Los Angeles, found that West Virginia has the highest percentage of trans teenagers in the country. According to the study’s authors, 1.04% of all children between 13 and 17 interviewed from the state identify as being transgender. The national percentage is significantly lower at 0.7%. That means roughly 1,150 of the state’s teens are transgender.
The reaction on social media was overwhelmingly positive, with accolades coming from residents encouraged by the significance of Ketchum’s victory. Many were quick to call attention to the significance of the moment.
“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 is also one of a history-making 68 LGBTQ+ candidates on ballots nationwide during Pride month.