By Jill Nolin, Georgia Recorder
Arienne Childrey is trying to be the first openly transgender person elected to the Ohio House of Representatives. // Photo submitted from Arienne Childrey via Ohio Capital Journal
Arienne Childrey hopes to be the first openly transgender person elected to the Ohio House of Representatives.
She is running to be the Democratic candidate to go against state Rep. Angela King, R-Celina — one of the sponsors behind the drag ban bill. The primary election is March 19 and King’s term ends Dec. 31, 2024.
Childrey decided to run against King after she introduced a bill that would prohibit drag performers from performing anywhere that isn’t a designated adult entertainment facility.
“If you’re going to attack our communities, then you’re gonna have to compete against someone from our community,” Childrey, 40, said.
Drag Ban Bill
King and Rep. Josh Williams, R-Sylvania, introduced House Bill 245 over the summer.
The bill would expand the definition of adult cabaret performances to include “performers or entertainers who exhibit a gender identity that is different from the performer’s or entertainer’s gender assigned at birth using clothing, makeup, prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts, or other physical markers.”
“One of the performers, dressed in a skimpy thonged leotard, twerked and gyrated on the concrete,” King said in her testimony. “This same adult, then seated on the ground with his legs spread open and raised towards the sky; gave a view of his crotch area for all to see, including small children.”
Childrey said the event King was referring to in her testimony was Celina Small Town Pride. Childrey also organized a protest against the drag ban bill at the Mercer County Courthouse in Celina and King posted a statement about what happened at the march on her Facebook page.
“I felt it was my duty to join alongside members of my community and silently protest a recent drag show that was performed for children in my hometown,” King said in her statement. “These adult cabaret acts, with adult themes, belong in private adult entertainment locations, not in a public park for all to see, including impressionable children.”
Childrey did not immediately toss her hat in the ring to run for office after King posted her statement, but instead reached out to county parties to see if King would have a challenger. Once it became clear there was no one, Childrey decided to run.
“It’s well past time that we’ve got somebody who goes to the Statehouse who’s actually interested in dealing with those issues — issues that actually impact people that can help our lives — rather than somebody who’s more focused on who they can hurt, rather than who they can help,” Childrey said.
Childrey said she has tried to contact King dozens of times with no success. The Ohio Capital Journal reached out to King’s office for comment but received no response.
Born and raised in Virginia, Childrey moved to Ohio in 2014 and later founded the Northwest Ohio Trans Advocacy. This is her first time running for office.
“The only thing that could possibly make me more happy than being the first trans woman elected in the state of Ohio is to not be the only trans person elected in the state of Ohio,” Childrey said.
TransOhio does not endorse political candidates, but said Childrey is courageous to run for office.
“Arienne’s commitment to public service and her resilience in the face of adversity sets a powerful example for us all,” TransOhio said in a statement. “As she navigates the challenges that come with this groundbreaking journey, we also want to acknowledge the significance of her candidacy and the impact it will have on paving the way for future generations of trans leaders.”
Virginia Democrat Danica Roem recently became the state’s first openly transgender state senator and the first out transgender person elected to a state Senate anywhere in the South.
Childrey, who was 34 when she transitioned, is a vocal critic of the anti-LGBTQ and anti-trans legislation in the Statehouse.
“I know what gender affirming care is for me,” she said in reference to House Bill 68 that would block gender affirming care for trans youth. “I know that it was life saving. I know the years that I wasted … before I transitioned. … I’ve never regretted my transition.”
Advocating for LGBTQ issues is not the only reason she is running for office.
“You should have representation that actually cares about your day to day life and people that are actually working to make things better,” Childrey said. “Together, we can actually make some real change one step at a time.”
When it comes to education issues, she wants to increase teacher pay and is critical of Ohio’s EDChoice Program. She also wants the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce to no longer be under the governor’s office, a recent change that was enacted in the state budget.
“I don’t think education is political,” she said. “And I don’t think it needs to be under the control of a governor.”
She also hopes to expand broadband access to rural areas and supports strengthening unions.
Megan Henry is a reporter for the Ohio Capital Journal and has spent the last five years reporting on various topics including education, healthcare, business and crime at The Columbus Dispatch, part of the USA Today Network.
The Ohio Capital Journal is an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to connecting Ohioans to their state government and its impact on their lives. The Capital Journal combines Ohio state government coverage with incisive investigative journalism, reporting on the consequences of policy, political insight and principled commentary.
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