Virginia Delegate Danica Roem (D) just became the first out transgender person to win a reelection for a state legislature.
Roem was first elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017 when she defeated her opponent, Bob Marshall, who was so conservative that he called himself the state’s “chief homophobe.”
This year, Roem ran against Republican Kelly McGinn, focusing her campaign on her accomplishments in health care, education, and transportation.
Organizations that supported McGinn ran ads that brought up Roem’s identity, referring to her support for an anti-discrimination health care law as a measure to “force all insurance companies to pay for harmful and unnecessary ‘gender transition’ surgeries” – the point, critics said, to bring up gender affirmation surgery in reference to Roem herself.
I voted to expand Medicaid, raise teacher pay & pass the largest transportation funding bill in six years.
So what do the groups who want to unseat me resort to?
Transphobia – today included.#FlipTheScript on their bigotry.
Let's win Nov. 5:https://t.co/f9xM33GyA1 pic.twitter.com/tl3PxlZQRV
— Danica Roem (@pwcdanica) October 31, 2019
But Roem emerged victorious yesterday with 57% of the vote.
“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,” said Annise Parker of the LGBTQ Victory Fund.
Delegates Dawn Adams, Mark Levine, and Mark Sickles – who are gay – were all reelected to the House of Delegates as well.
Their victories yesterday came as Democrats took control of the Virginia House of Delegates for the first time in two decades. Democrats gained six seats in the legislative body and two more in the state senate.
Roem said that the election shows a mandate from voters to pass “a Virginia version of the Equality Act.” Currently, only public sector employees are protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the state.
“We have a mandate from the people to pass nondiscrimination [bills] that are comprehensive and inclusive of all our LGBTQ constituents,” she told the Washington Blade. “We will be getting that done.”
Democrats now control both houses of the legislature in Virginia as well as the governor’s office.