Danica Roem made history yesterday by becoming the first openly transgender person to win office in Virignia history. The victory was made all the sweeter by the fact that Roem, the lead singer for a thrash metal band called Cab Ride Home, unseated Robert G. Marshall, a proud bigot who once called himself Virginia’s “chief homophobe.” Roem, who began her transition four years ago, unseated the 13-term incumbent who recently sponsored a failed “bathroom bill” similar to North Carolina’s controversial law.
Although a relatively small local election, the race garnered national headlines for its gender identity rights angle. In the lead up to election night, Marshall not only insultingly referred to Roem with male pronouns, but he also refused to debate the singer and former award-winning journalist. Thankfully, the people of Virginia’s 13th District decided they’d had enough of Marshall’s archaic views and voted him out.
Although great strides have been made in gay and lesbian rights in recent years, gender identity remains an unprotected area in terms of laws guaranteeing the rights of trans people, and killings of trans people have been on the rise. The only other openly transgender person to be elected to a state legislature in the United States was Stacie Laughton, a Democrat who won a seat in the New Hampshire House in 2012 but never took office after a controversy over her failure to disclose a felony conviction. Althea Garrison came out as transgender while serving in the Massachusetts House in 1992, but lost every election after coming out. There are seven openly gay members of Congress, but none who identify as transgender.
“Discrimination is a disqualifier, this is about the people of the 13th District disregarding fear tactics, disregarding phobias,” a joyful Roem said after her victory. “Where we celebrate you because of who you are, not despite it.”
When asked about her unabashedly bigoted opponent, Roem once again took the high road, saying simply, “I don’t attack my constituents. Bob is my constituent now.”