First transgender elected official in Virginia lauded as trailblazer

2017-11-09 06:58
Newly elected Danica Roem. (File, AP)

Newly elected Danica Roem. (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - A 33-year-old transgender Democrat was being lauded as a pioneer on Wednesday after she won a seat in the Virginia state legislature against a Republican incumbent who openly boasted of being a "homophobe".

Danica Roem, a former local newspaper reporter and singer in a heavy metal band, said: "Discrimination is a disqualifier and the message of inclusion is a winning message.

National attention

"It's humbling and I know I have a big responsibility right now - get results," Roem said in a telephone interview following her landmark victory.

Roem defeated Robert Marshall, a staunchly conservative Republican who had represented the 13th District in Prince William County for 26 years, by 54.4% to 45.6% in a contest that drew national attention.

Roem will become the first openly transgender state lawmaker in the United States when she takes up her seat in the Virginia House of Delegates in the state capital, Richmond.

Democrats made stunning gains in the Republican-controlled Virginia legislature on Tuesday and romped to victory in the governor's race in what some analysts described as a wave of anti-Trump sentiment.

During a hard-fought campaign, the 73-year-old Marshall refused to refer to Roem in interviews or campaign literature as "she" or to agree to a debate.

Marshall once boasted of being Virginia's "chief homophobe" and was the author of a bill that would have forced transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding to their sex at birth.

He also co-authored a bill banning gay marriage.

State legislators

Roem has said she did not enter politics to become an LGBTQ symbol but to deal with municipal and infrastructure issues, particularly traffic congestion in her district.

But she campaigned wearing a rainbow-coloured headscarf and the historic nature of her win was not lost on her on Wednesday.

"I will be the first out and seated transgender state representative," said Roem.

"I have the opportunity to get a lot of infrastructure projects done while at the same time demonstrating to people in the 13th District and around the world that transgender people make very good state legislators and that we care about our communities, too," she said.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

News24 (@News24) | Twitter

The latest Tweets from News24 (@News24). News24 is Southern Africa and Africa's premier online news resource reaching over 2.3 million local users each month. South Africa

Read more on:    us

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.