Danica Roem, a 32-year-old former journalist from Manassas Virginia pulled off a surprise victory in the VA primary on Tuesday, when she won the Democratic nomination to face off against Bob Marshall in the general election. If she wins, she will become the first out transgender legislator in Virginia’s House of Delegates, and the third out trans legislator in the country. Ms. Roem won against Steve Jansen, Andrew Adams and Mansimran Kahlon to win her party’s backing. Ms. Roem is not the first openly transgender person to win a state legislative primary, Lauren Scott of Nevada won the Republican primary when she ran to represent District 30 in the Nevada State Assembly. She ended up losing the general election. Ms. Roem has said: “People are tired of the fact he is focused on discriminatory social policies instead of bread-and-butter, quality-of-life issues they face every day. He is more concerned with where I go to the bathroom than where his constituents go to work. I’m running a race on improving transportation rather than ensuring discrimination.” Even though the 13th District is held by Republican legislators, it’s one of 18 seats in the house that voted for Hillary Clinton last November. Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by a 54-40 margin.
Roem’s opponent in the general election is Del. Bob Marshall. Marshall has been a delegate in the Virginia General Assembly for 13 years. During that time, he has been an advocate of anti-LGBT issues, including being responsible for the Marshall-Newman Amendment which made a ban on same-sex marriage a part of the state constitution in Virginia until a federal judge overturned it. More recently, Marshall pushed legislation that would bar transgender people from using the restroom in any government-owned building consistent with their gender identity. This would affect both those transgender people who have not changed their gender on their birth certificate and those who have had their gender changed on their birth certificate. Ms. Roem’s core issues are traffic, jobs, schools, and equality. While Ms. Roem’s running on multiple issues, Mr. Marshall’s main focus is being anti-LGBT. Roem stated that her “number one job for the campaign isn’t to speak… it’s to listen to the residents, write down their concerns, ideas and questions, follow-up with them, and work what they tell me into my policy platform. That’s how I took notes and wrote news stories and that’s how I’ll craft public policy: Research. Question. Listen. Report.” The general election is on Nov. 7, so Ms. Roem has plenty of time to work on the the support she has and expand it. And Virginia has a little bit of time to find out if they will have their first openly transgender legislator.