By Christina Davis ’18, News Editor
Breaking social barriers within her community and the United States, Danica Roem, a few weeks ago, became the first openly transgender person to be elected to Virginia’s state legislature. Roem, a Democrat and a former journalist, successfully unseated Republican Bob Marshall, who had served in Virginia’s House of Delegates for 26 years. Roem’s successful campaign resulted in her securing the seat with 54.59 percent of the vote while Marshall received only 45.36 percent.
Marshall’s defeat was ironic: An open opponent of the transgender community, Marshall recently supported a bill this year that would force transgender individuals to use bathrooms corresponding to their sex at birth. Moreover, the bill “required school officials to inform the parents of any student who asked ‘to be recognized or treated as the opposite sex.’”
Roem’s victory symbolizes the advancement of the LGBTQ community in politics. Roem, however, is not the first trans state official elected to a position in state government. Althea Garrison, a black woman who won as a Republican in Massachusetts in 1993, was the first transgendered state official elected to a statehouse. Recently, Andrea Jenkins secured a seat on the Minneapolis City Council, becoming the first transgender person to do so.
When addressing her experience with gender identity as a politician, Roem has stated that “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.” In fact, Roem’s emphasis during her campaign was about creating more jobs, improving schools, and addressing traffic issues in Northern Virginia.
Following her election, Roem received an immense amount of support from supporters and fellow community activists. Sarah McBride, a transgender spokeswoman for the Human Rights Campaign, wrote, “It’s difficult to encapsulate just how powerful it is to see this particular glass ceiling shattered. Reading the history books growing up, it became clear to me that no one like me made it very far — at least no one who was out.” Charles Clymer, a genderqueer writer, tweeted that Roem had “inspired a generation of trans kids to believe.”
For trans children nationwide, Danica Roem is a symbol of an unrestrained hope that has pierced the social normatives so prevalent throughout the country. Her dedication and persistence inspire future generations who are a part of the LGBTQ community to pursue occupations which often come with immense adversity. Through Roem, we all learn to fight for causes we believe in, even when met with opposition or hate.
photo from huffingtonpost.com