Va. Transgender candidate beats ultra conservative incumbent GOP Delegate
Richmond, Va. — A former journalist unseated one of Virginia's most socially conservative lawmakers Tuesday to become the first openly transgender member of the House of Delegates.
Democrat Danica Roem, an experienced newspaper reporter, beat longtime Republican incumbent Bob Marshall in Tuesday's election. The race was one of the year's most high profile, drawing national and international attention and big money to the northern Virginia district outside the nation's capital.
With her victory, Roem is set to make history as the first openly transgender person elected and seated in a state legislature. But her gender identity wasn't a key part of her campaign. Instead, she focused on jobs, schools and northern Virginia's traffic congestion.
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She also argued that Marshall, who has served in the House since 1992, has spent too much time on social policy.
A lightning rod for controversy, Marshall often drew the ire of even his own party.
Earlier this year, Marshall sponsored a measure that would have restricted the bathrooms transgender people can use. He is also the author of a now-void constitutional amendment that defined marriage as between one man and one woman, and sponsored a bill banning gay people from openly serving in the Virginia National Guard.
On the campaign trail, Marshall and other Republicans repeatedly misidentified Roem's gender.
Roem started pursuing therapy to begin her gender transition when she was 28. She said politics should be inclusive of all.
"No matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship or who you love, if you have good public policy ideas, if you're qualified for office, you have every right to bring your ideas to the table," she said in an interview with The Associated Press earlier this year.
Roem also said she learned to listen to different perspectives and digest complicated policy as a reporter for the Gainesville Times and Prince William Times, skills she would bring to bear as a delegate. In her spare time, she sings in a metal band.
By Sarah Rankin, Associated Press. Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
The Gayly – November 7, 2017 @ 7:35 p.m. CST.