Former journalist and former man Danica Roem has made history after being elected the first transgender person elected and seated in a state legislature in the United States.
Roem, a Democrat, defeated incumbent Republican Del. Bob Marshall, one of the state’s longest-serving and most socially conservative lawmakers.
“It’s historic. … It sends a message to politicians everywhere that the politics of bigotry is over,” Democratic House Caucus Chair Charniele Herring observed.
As the first transgender member of the House of Delegates, Roem will become the first transgender person to win and serve in a state legislature, according to the Victory Fund, a political action committee that works to get openly LGBTQ people elected and has supported Roem.
Although she openly discussed her gender identity during her campaign, Roem’s focus was on jobs, schools and her pet peeve: northern Virginia’s traffic congestion.
She reportedly began her gender transition when she was 28, explained Roem, who told The Associated Press: “No matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship or who you love, if you have good public policy ideas, if you’re qualified for office, you have every right to bring your ideas to the table.”
Marshall and other Republicans repeatedly misidentified Roem’s gender on the campaign trail.
In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Marshall told his constituents: “For 26 years I’ve been proud to fight for you, and fight for our future. Though we all wish tonight would have turned out differently, I am deeply grateful for your support and effort over the years.”
Roem has said that she learned to listen to different perspectives and digest complicated policy as a reporter for the Gainesville Times and Prince William Times, skills she would bring to bear as a delegate. She also sings in a metal band in her spare time.
“We are determined to replicate this race nationwide – using constituent-focused LGBTQ candidates to take down elected officials who use their positions to target our community. Tonight was the opening salvo,” Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, president & CEO of Victory Fund, said in a statement.
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