Danica Roem, a Democrat, made history on Tuesday as the first openly transgender state senator in Virginia and the South. She defeated Bill Woolf, a Republican endorsed by Governor Glenn Youngkin, who promised to ban transgender athletes from school sports.
Roem, who was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2017, campaigned on her legislative achievements, such as providing hot meals to public school students and reducing traffic congestion. She said she was proud of being trans, but also focused on the issues that mattered to her constituents.
“I’m proud to be trans. I’m proud to be a woman. I’m proud to be a Virginian. I’m proud to be an American. And I’m proud to be your state senator,” Roem said in her victory speech.
Roem’s win was celebrated by LGBTQ advocates and allies, who hailed her as a trailblazer and a role model.
“Danica Roem is a trailblazer whose win tonight shows LGBTQ people that there is nothing we can’t achieve when we run for office as our authentic selves,” said Annise Parker, president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, a group that supports LGBTQ candidates.
Roem’s historic victory also marked a contrast to her first election in 2017, when she unseated Bob Marshall, a 13-term incumbent who called himself Virginia’s “chief homophobe” and introduced a bill to restrict transgender bathroom use. Roem famously said after her win, “I don’t attack my constituents. Bob is my constituent now.”
Roem is one of the four openly LGBTQ lawmakers in the Virginia General Assembly, along with Dawn Adams, Mark Levine and Mark Sickles. She is also the only transgender state legislator in the country, according to LGBTQ Victory Fund.
Roem said she hoped her win would inspire other transgender people to run for office and pursue their dreams.
“I’m not here to make history. I’m here to make a difference,” she said.
– Del. Danica Roem becomes Virginia’s first openly transgender state senator, Yahoo News, 11/8/2023
– Danica Roem becomes Virginia’s first openly transgender state senator, The Hill, 11/8/2023
– Virginia elections: Democrat Danica Roem defeats Bill Woolf in state Senate race, MSN, 11/8/2023
– Danica Roem Elected Virginia’s First Trans State Senator, Advocate.com, 11/8/2023