Danica Roem Wins Seat In Virginia House of Delegates, Becomes First Transgender Person In A State Legislature

Roem's opponent, Bob Marshall, refused to debate her and frequently misgendered her during the campaign.

Tuesday was an off-year Election Day, but history was still made as Democrat Danica Roem won her seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, becoming the first transgender American to serve in a state legislature.

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Roem defeated Republican Bob Marshall 54 to 45—a victory made all the more sweet given Marshall’s homophobic and transphobic agenda: The author of Virginia’s marriage-equality ban, he demanded Attorney General Mark Herring be impeached for supporting “sodomy marriage” and authored a North Carolina-style bathroom bill.

A 13-term Virginia Delegate, Marshall refused to debate Roem during the campaign and repeatedly (and intentionally) misgendered her: “Why do you call Danica a female?” he asked a reporter in August. “Did Danica’s DNA change?”

Asked about Marshall after the election, Roem reportedly said, “I don’t attack my constituents. Bob is my constituent now.”

In a joint statement, Virginia House Democratic caucus leader David J. Toscano and caucus chairwoman Charniele Herring said Roem “will bring a reporter’s eye to Richmond, and we eagerly anticipate her results-oriented approach to deliver for her constituent.”

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During the campaign, Roem focused on jobs, infrastructure, and other bread-and-butter issues. But she never shied away from embracing her identity. (While campaigning door-to-door, Roem would often wear a rainbow headscarf.)

“We made history tonight,” she declared at newly-elected Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s victory party. “We won because I am a transgender woman… because of my inherent identifiers not despite them. I never ran away from them. I championed them.”

In California, Lisa Middleton became the first transgender person in California elected to a non-judicial office, winning a seat on the Palm Springs City Council. Another trans candidate, Andrea Jenkins, claimed victory in the Minneapolis City Council race.

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Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.