Democrat Danica Roem will be the first openly transgender state lawmaker in America, after winning a decisive victory for a seat in Virginia’s House of Delegates on Tuesday night.
Roem beat 13-term incumbent Del. Robert G. Marshall, a conservative Republican who authored a bill to restrict transgender people from using the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity (the bill never passed, ultimately).
Marshall hasn’t been shy about his anti-LGBTQ beliefs; he once called himself Virginia’s “chief homophobe.” Throughout the race, Marshall would not debate Roem or appear at the same campaign forums as her, the Washington Post reported. And in the runup to Election Day, the Virginia Republican Party paid for campaign fliers repeatedly referring to Roem in the wrong gender, with a header that read: “Danica Roem, born male, has made a campaign issue out of transitioning to female.”
Roem’s victory speech last night made it clear she does not plan to stoop to similar personal attacks once she starts in Virginia’s state legislature.
When asked about her opponent last night at her victory party, Roem said simply, “I don't attack my constituents. Bob is my constituent now.”
In her speech, Roem said she promised to focus on local issues, including Virginia’s infrastructure and passing Medicaid expansion in the state.
“This is the important stuff,” she said. “We can’t get lost in discrimination. We can’t get lost in B.S. We can’t get lost tearing each other down.”
Powerful statement from @pwcdanica, first transgender member of VA assembly. Watch this: pic.twitter.com/d5fZ43vSCF— Will Drabold (@WillDrabold) November 8, 2017
When you champion inclusion, when you champion equality, and you focus on the issues that unite us, like building up our infrastructure, taking care of our roads, making sure our teacher pay isn’t the lowest in Northern Virginia ... that’s the sort of stuff, those are the issues that you’ve got to focus on as a delegate, that you’ve got to focus on as a candidate. Because that’s what impacts everyone’s life, every single day.
I want to make a point here that no matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship, who you love, how you identify, and yeah, how you run, that if you have good public policy ideas, if you are well qualified for office, bring those ideas to the table, because this is your America, too. This is our commonwealth of Virginia, too.