FILE - In this June 21, 2017, file photo, Democratic nominee for the House of Delegates 13th district seat Danica Roem brings campaign signs as she greets voters while canvasing a neighborhood in Manassas, Va. Roem, a former journalist, is challenging longtime incumbent Bob Marshall. If elected, Roem would be the state’s first transgender representative. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

Transgender Congresswoman Danica Roem has gracious response after winning, and she's everything

Danica Roem will be the first trans woman to serve in a state legislature — and she defeated an outspoken homophobe


Matthew Rozsa
November 8, 2017 1:50PM (UTC)

Tuesday's elections proved to be a major victory for the cause of social justice throughout the United States — perhaps most notably in the case of Danica Roem, the first transgender woman to be able to serve in a state legislature.

After Roem's victory and when asked about her opponent, Robert G. Marshall, who proudly referred to himself as Virginia's "chief homophobe," Roem said, "I don't attack my constituents. Bob is my constituent now."

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Marshall openly attacked Roem for being transgender during the campaign and introduced an unsuccessful bathroom bill in the state. Yet Roem managed to beat Marshall, in part by raising more money (much of it from the LGBT community) and knocking on more doors. Marshall also hurt his own cause, The Washington Post noted, by refusing to debate Roem.

"Discrimination is a disqualifier. This is about the people of the 13th District disregarding fear tactics, disregarding phobias," Roem told her supporters in her victory speech, "where we celebrate you because of who you are, not despite it."

She added, "For 26 years I’ve been proud to fight for you and fight for our future. I’m committed to continue the fight for you, but in a different role going forward."

Although Roem will be the first transgender person to serve in a state legislature, she will not be the first one elected to a gubernatorial legislative body. A transgender person served in the Massachusetts legislature in the 1990s but did not campaign as transgender, while a transgender candidate was elected in New Hampshire in 2012 but did not assume office.

Roem wasn't the only candidate to strike a blow for social justice on Tuesday. Andrea Jenkins became the first transgender person to serve on a major city's governing body when she was elected to the Minneapolis City Council. Tyler Titus became the first openly transgender person elected to political office in Pennsylvania when he won a seat on the Erie School Board.

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Ashley Bennett managed to win an Atlantic County Freeholder seat. She beat John Carman, who aroused controversy by posting a meme on Facebook asking, "Will the women’s march end in time for them to cook dinner?"

Roughly one year after Donald Trump was elected to the presidency despite running an openly racist and sexist campaign against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, people in communities throughout the United States have begun to reverse that precedent in countless small ways.

It's a good day to wake up as an American.


Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa

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2017 Election Danica Roem Robert G. Marshall

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