In her more than four years as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, Danica Roem has achieved many things, including the honor of being the nation’s first openly transgender person ever elected to a U.S. state legislature. On April 26, Roem adds to her long list of accolades the title of book author, with the release of her memoir-meets-manifesto: Burn The Page: A True Story of Torching Doubts, Blazing Trails, and Igniting Change.
Now a three-time elected official, Roem certainly has an incredible story to pull from. Roem was first elected in 2017, when she ran against Bob Marshall, a 13-term Republican legislator who authored the constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality in Virginia and has rightly referred to himself as the state’s “chief homophobe.”
Ironically, during her 2017 campaign against Marshall, Roem was attacked for mentioning the possibility of a book deal. When asked by Cosmopolitan about whether Roem would seek a second job to supplement her income if she were elected, Roem joked: “I think the first out transgender person seated to a legislature — there’s probably gonna be interest in a book deal.” Shortly after, Roem was attacked in a mailer for saying that, and the rest is history.
Over the last few years, Roem has worked hard on Burn the Page, working closely with an editorial staff of all women, of which she is particularly proud. “I really wanted to lean in and especially find women relatively close to my age to work with on this because I feel like as peers, they were going to help me find the voice that I wanted to express,” Roem tells Tagg.
This editorial choice certainly influenced the end product, as Roem explains that she sees the book as particularly relevant to women in their mid to late thirties, especially those who have had to be closeted or resilient.
“I think [this book] is wildly relatable not just to people who struggle with the concept of their identity, but wishing other people could just embrace them for the person they’ve always known themselves to be or the person they are trying to become,” says Roem.
In that vein, the book explores a lot of the trauma that has occurred during Roem’s life, including the suicide of her father and the death of her grandmother.
“This is a book of scars,” shares Roem. “They are scars I’ll always carry, but at the same time, I don’t mind sharing them with other people because I believe scars are the most relatable thing that a person can share with someone else.”
Despite these scars, Roem also blends the memoir with her “George Carlin style of humor,” which she finds very important given the roughly 150 anti-transgender bills filed this year.
One way that this manifests within the book is that every chapter starts with an opposition research hit, an attack from the Republican party or one of its candidates, or a negative editorial against Roem. Fittingly, the epilogue begins with “Danica Roem Wants a Book Deal.”
At the end of the day, Roem hopes the book will inspire others to tell their own stories. But perhaps more importantly, she sees this book as a symbol of resilience.
“We understand what it’s like to not only be heard but have to be so resilient as to be strong when we don’t always feel that way,” says Roem. “LGBTQ people don’t get the option or the luxury of prolonging sadness without necessary resilience to overcome it.”