Virginia Delegate Danica Roem—the first openly out-and-seated transgender state legislator ever elected in the United States—defeated her anti-LGBTQ challenger Kelly McGinn last night in a race that was considered a bellwether for whether Virginia is trending Democratic. Holding her seat was considered critical to Democratic efforts to retake the House of Delegates in 2019. Roem is now the first out trans state legislator to win reelection.
“In 2017, Danica wrote the playbook on how transgender candidates can defeat anti-LGBTQ opponents through authenticity and attention to everyday issues – and her reelection victory sets it in stone,” said Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund.
In the final weeks of the campaign, an organization with strong ties to Roem’s opponent released an online ad attacking her gender identity. The ad was reminiscent of transphobic attacks from her 2017 opponent, Bob Marshall, a 25-year incumbent and self-described “chief homophobe” of the Virginia state legislature. She became the first openly trans person to win and serve in a state legislature when she defeated Marshall.
Roem is one of five openly LGBTQ incumbent state legislators. State Senator Adam Ebbin, as well as Delegates Dawn Adams, Mark Levine and Mark Sickles all had elections Tuesday night. All were considered critical to Democrats taking the state House.
“Throughout her tenure in the House of Delegates, Roem has remained focused on the needs of her constituents, despite hateful and divisive attacks from anti-LGBTQ groups and her opponents. From expanding Medicaid and providing health care to 400,000 Virginians to improving Route 28, Delegate Roem has been an effective leader in Richmond,” said HRC President Alphonso David.
Since Roem’s 2017 win, Victory Fund helped elect three more trans state legislators. Lisa Bunker and Gerri Cannon in New Hampshire, and Brianna Titone in Colorado, all won state legislative seats in 2018. There are currently just 21 openly trans elected officials in the entire country. A total of 18 openly trans candidates ran for office in 2019.