Tuesday night, Danica Roem defeated incumbent Robert G. Marshall, Virginia's "most socially conservative state legislator," to become the state's first openly transgender legislator.
Roem, a former newspaper reporter who began her transition just four years ago, was swept into office in last night's "blue wave" that saw Democrats win decisive victories in Virginia's gubernatorial and state legislative elections.
Roem, however, believes her victory is not just numerical, but symbolic.
“Discrimination is a disqualifier,” Roem said Tuesday night in her acceptance speech. “This is about the people of the 13th District disregarding fear tactics, disregarding phobias — where we celebrate you because of who you are, not despite it.”
It's true that Roem's victory was more about her gender identity than it was about her platform — which involved, primarily, extending a train line in the opposite direction of the commute to D.C. (quite literally, a train to nowhere).
But Marshall, himself, may have been partially responsible for that: during his campaign he tried to be as offensive toward his opponent as possible. He brought up Roem's gender identity regularly, referred to himself as Virginia's "chief homophobe," refused to debate Roem because her trangenderism was an "affront" to his faith, and referred to his fully transitioned opponent by male pronouns.
At one point, Marshall accused Roem of "lewd behavior," using a music video Roem had made with her band.
Marshall's attacks spurred on a nationwide campaign of support for Roem, who ended up out-raising her opponent 3-to-1, collecting nearly half a million dollars, primarily from LGBT and "resistance" groups located out of state.
Roem will take her seat in January, making her the United State's first openly transgender state legislator. There have been two other transgender individuals elected to statewide public office, but one, in New Hampshire, was never seated, and the other, Rep. Althea Garrison of Massachusetts, was not open during her time in office.
Roem was not the only openly transgender individual to win office on Tuesday, however. Andrea Jenkins won a seat on Minneapolis' city council.