Metro Weekly

Danica Roem makes history as first out trans person reelected to state legislature

Roem bested an anti-LGBTQ opponent and increased her share of the vote over her historic 2017 win

Danica Roem – Photo by Julian Vankim

In what is becoming something of a welcome pattern, Virginia Del. Danica Roem has one again made history.

Roem, the first out transgender person to be elected to a state legislature, has now also become the first out trans person to be reelected to a state lawmaking office.

What’s more, Roem secured her win over anti-LGBTQ opponent Kelly McGinn with an even larger share of the vote compared with her 2017 victory — 57%, versus 54% in 2017.

She also succeeded despite attempts by conservatives to turn transgender rights into a wedge issue, including running an anti-trans advert accusing Roem of promoting an “extreme social agenda.”

Related: GOP efforts to make trans rights a wedge issue failed in Kentucky and Virginia

Roem tweeted her thanks last night after the race was called, telling voters in the 13th District, “Thank you so much for the confidence you’ve shown in my team and me by such an overwhelming margin. I’m grateful to represent you because of who you are — never despite it.”

The newly reelected delegate also tweeted a message to those who might try to attack her on transgender issues in future, noting that she had included access to trans-inclusive healthcare in her platform and won.

“I’m breathing out the one lingering resentment from 2018/19: Family Foundation Action & RPV attacked me for supporting trans-inclusive health care,” Roem wrote. “I called your heartless bluff. I put it in my platform. We’re going to pass it. Don’t you *EVER* attack my trans constituents again.”

Roem’s victory also came on a night that saw the Virginia General Assembly flip from Republican to Democrat, with both the House and Senate changing hands in a wave of blue victories.

Activists now hope that with Democrats taking control of the legislature and with Democrat Ralph Northam in the governor’s office, years of Republican leaders killing pro-LGBTQ legislation will finally come to an end.

LGBTQ organizations applauded Roem’s win, with Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David touting her successes during her first two years in office.

“Danica Roem has once again made history, becoming the longest-serving and first openly transgender elected official to be re-elected in our nation’s history,” David said in a statement. “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 — and she isn’t finished yet,” David continued. “For these reasons and more, the Human Rights Campaign is proud to have helped her fight for re-election and is proud to stand alongside her each and every step of her awe-inspiring journey.”

RelatedEXCLUSIVE: HRC spent $250,000 in Virginia to support pro-LGBTQ candidates

Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, similarly celebrated Roem’s win, including her proven strategy of focusing on the issues that voters care most about, rather than getting mired in culture wars and wedge issues.

“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,” Parker said. “Voters did not head to the polls to make history, yet they proved trans candidates can win battleground races in battleground states despite transphobic attacks from opponents.”

Parker added: “Danica inspired trans people across the nation to run for office. Her reelection proves that political revolution is a lasting transformation – not an aberration.”

Read more:

The Feed: Election special! – Pete Buttigieg is out of a job – Anti-trans messaging fails nationwide – Kentucky’s anti -LGBTQ governor defeated

Elizabeth Warren will reverse Trump’s “shameful” trans military ban on first day of her presidency

Kamala Harris says “trope” that black voters are more homophobic is “simply wrong”

Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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