A Democrat, former journalist, and rock musician has made history as the first openly transgender politician to win an election in Virginia. Last night, Danica Roem beat Republican Bob Marshall, supporter of a bill that would require transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate, and will represent Virginia’s 13th congressional district in the state’s House of Delegates.
The journey from announcing her run to her victory was not an easy one. She campaigned against a man who called himself Virginia’s “chief homophobe” and said, “A woman’s arm is constructed at a certain angle so that she can adequately cradle a baby,” after a 2006 debate at the University of Virginia Law School. Marshall refused to debate Roem and referred to her with male pronouns in a series of attack flyers mailed to constituents.
“Discrimination is a disqualifier,” Roem told The Washington Post after the poll results became clear. “This is about the people of the 13th District disregarding fear tactics, disregarding phobias…where we celebrate you because of who you are, not despite it.”
Roem’s platform included everyday issues such as reducing traffic on Route 28, raising teacher salaries in Manassas Park and Prince William County, reducing class sizes, improving quality of life, and increasing jobs. She also supports the DREAM Act, voting rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, affordable health care, a higher minimum wage, and civil rights.
Roem was part of a wave of victories for Democrats last night that seems to show a shift in voters for progressive politics in some states. Joining Roem in the state legislature will be Elizabeth Guzmán and Hala Ayala, the first two Latina women elected to the House of Delegates, and Kathy Tran, the first Asian-American woman elected to the House of Delegates.
Andrea Jenkins won the Minneapolis, Minnesota city council seat for Ward 8, becoming the first transgender person of color do so in a major city.
Ravinder Bhalla became the first Sikh mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey. “It’s historic… It sends a message to politicians everywhere that the politics of bigotry is over,” David Tuscano, Democratic leader of Virginia’s House of Delegates said, according to The Guardian.