A transgender woman running for the Virginia House of Delegates is facing bigotry from her conservative opponent. Democrat Danica Roem is challenging GOP incumbent Bob Marshall, who has refused to debate her ahead of the November election.
He also repeatedly and intentionally misgenders her: “Why do you call Danica a female?” he asked a reporter last month. “Did Danica’s DNA change?”
Although Roem, a journalist, has tried not to focus her campaign on her being trans, she released an ad this week to counter Marshall’s attacks—and present her identity in a positive light. “I’m running for office because my identity shouldn’t be a big deal,” she says in the spot. “Because this shouldn’t be newsworthy or political. This is just who I am.”
There are millions of transgender people in the U.S., she adds, and they deserve to be represented in the government.
“When I stand up on the Statehouse floor and the Speaker says the Gentlewoman from Manassas, LGBTQ kids everywhere will know they can succeed because of who they are, not despite it,” she says.
Marshall has been a vocal opponent of LGBT rights throughout his career: He authored a bill that would have forced teachers to out closeted students to their parents and demanded Virginia’s Attorney General be impeached for supporting “sodomy marriage.”