Sunday 15 September 2019

Meet Danica Roem, America’s first openly transgender state legislator

The 33-year-old Democrat from Virginia made history on Tuesday.

Virginia Election
Virginia Election

By Kameron Virk

A Virginia politician has made US history by becoming the first openly transgender person to be elected to any state legislature in the country.

Danica Roem beat Republican Bob Marshall, who’d represented northern Virginia in the House of Delegates for 26 years, and this year proposed a Bill that would have have restricted which toilets Roem could use.

Who is she?

The 33-year-old is a Democrat and former local news reporter who also sings in a metal band in her spare time.

During the campaign Roem had to deal with being repeatedly misgendered by the notoriously conservative Marshall, who once described himself as “chief homophobe”, but also spoke openly about her gender.

Roem focused on jobs, schools and, most prominently, northern Virginia’s traffic congestion, in one of this year’s most high-profile US elections.

The northern Virginia resident has been vocal against Donald Trump, but was asked to run before he became president.

When Trump tried – and failed – to ban transgender people from the military, she said: “It is nothing short of hypocrisy for someone unfit to serve honourably in the presidency to tell honourable, hard-working, patriotic Americans who answered their country’s call to service that they are unfit to serve because of who they are.”

“The message that I can succeed because of my gender, not despite it, because of who I am without being afraid of who I am is a human message,” Roem told Cosmopolitan in September.

“It’s something that even if you are cisgender, but you have some reason that you’ve been singled out in your life … you can look at me and say ‘If she can do this, so can I.’”

What has the reaction been like?

Danica Roem celebrates her win

The mood on social media has been celebratory.

People also used Roem’s victory to mention Althea Garrison, a transgender person who won a seat in Boston’s legislature in 1992 before being subsequently outed by a Conservative newspaper.

Roem will take her seat in January – but she wasn’t the only transgender person to be elected on Tuesday.

Tyler Titus, who is openly transgender, won a seat on a western Pennsylvania school board, The Erie Times-News reported.

“2017 will be remembered as the year of the trans candidate – and Danica’s heroic run for office the centrepiece of that national movement,” Aisha Moodie-Mills, president and chief executive of Victory Fund, said in a statement.

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