Democrat Danica Roem defeated Republican Bob Marshall to represent Virginia’s 13th district in the state’s House of Delegates.
Roem, 33, became the country’s only current openly transgender state legislator Tuesday night. And that she unseated the incumbent Marshall to represent the northern Virginia district — who earned the nickname “Bigot Bob” for his outspoken anti-LGBT policy and rhetoric, as well as his introduction of the notorious transgender bathroom bill — is no small feat.
The man who wrote the anti-trans bathroom bill just lost the election to a trans woman. Let that sink in. https://t.co/KFEZXSYvMy
— Laura Bassett (@LEBassett) November 8, 2017
Marshall, who took office in 1992, refused to debate Roem during the campaign because of the current political climate and only referred to her using male pronouns.
“In the last few elections, there’s been a distinct lack of civility,” Marshall said at the time. “Prior to that, it wasn’t so bad. You weren’t automatically identified as a bigot, or a hatemonger or anything like this. That has changed.”
In other words, Marshall was upset that LGBTQ people were gaining rights in their own country and fewer people were tolerating his hateful behavior. His campaign and supporters released vicious and hateful ads attacking Roem for her gender that only appeared to attract more voters to Roem.
But Roem did not define her candidacy primarily by being a transgender candidate.
Instead, Roem emphasized her past experience as a former watchdog journalist and desire to tackle local issues like raising teacher pay, improving transportation conditions on nearby Rt. 28 and clearing bureaucratic obstructions to providing more jobs in her district.
Roem’s victory confirmed her claim that voters in the suburban district didn’t care about her gender as much as whether she could address the civic issues important to them.
“Transgender people have really good public policy ideas that span the gamut of transportation policy to health care policy to education policy, and yes, to civil rights as well,” Roem told Mother Jones. “We shouldn’t just be pigeonholed into the idea that we’re just going to be fighting about bathrooms.”
Roem joins Althea Garrison as one of the few transgender women elected to a state legislature in the country’s history.
Trans woman Althea Garrison was elected to the MA state leg in 1992, serving one term. She's alive today, and ran for Boston city council this year. pic.twitter.com/i3gwmHKY8R
— Angus Johnston (@studentactivism) November 8, 2017