What making history means to transgender politician Danica Roem
Last week, Danica Roem became the first transgender candidate to win a primary race for Virginia’s House of Delegates.
The 32-year-old stepmom made history by beating out three other Democratic candidates, and, according to NBC News, will be one of seven LGBTQ candidates who will participate in Virginia’s general elections in November. Roem, who moved into politics after being a journalist, joked that the career change “wasn’t my first transition.”
“I celebrate it,” Roem told A Plus in a phone interview. “Because what people are going to see is that a transgender person has a lot of public policy ideas that would make good public policy law.”
If Roem were to win again in November, she’d become the third transgender state legislator elected in the United States. But for Roem, the opportunity to serve in public office isn’t about the history she’s making, it’s about the change she could make. If you talk to her for a few minutes on the phone, you’ll realize that her passion for local politics runs deep. When asked what being the first transgender candidate to win a primary for Virginia’s House of Delegates meant to her, Roem was quick to answer.
“It means that the people of the 13th district now have a chance to elect someone who is going to finally be able to secure adequate transportation funding to fix up Route 28,” Roem said. “You’re going to have someone who is actually in support of expanding Medicaid to cover 3,700 constituents in the 13th district who are currently uninsured.”
Roem’s top priority is a plan to fix Route 28 in Virginia, a highway that leaves residents with unbearable traffic jams. She wants to “incentivize localities to eliminate their BPOL taxes through state economic development grants” and improve salaries for teachers in Manassas Park and Prince William County, where they are some of the lowest in Northern Virginia.
In fact, according to Roem, it’s her opponents who are laser-focused on the LGBTQ community — and not in a positive way. Instead of addressing quality of life issues for Virginians in their district, she says legislators are too focused on creating discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws.
On a platform document she sent to A Plus in an email, Roem has a section called “Making Virginia a more inclusive Commonwealth.”
“By redirecting our focus away from exclusionary and discriminatory social issues and toward the three core issues in the county, we can deliver results for our district residents and improve their quality of life,” it reads. “To do that, we need to be a more welcoming Commonwealth, one where our residents are valued for who they are, not singled out because of their religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or any other inherent identifier.”
And still, opponents and national media have tried to make the race about her gender identity.
Her opponent, Delegate Marshall, has introduced a number of anti-LGBTQ bills since he took office in 1992. Aisha Moodie-Mills, president and CEO of a political action committee (PAC) called Victory Fund that endorsed Roem called Marshall “the most anti-LGBTQ member of the Virginia state legislature.”
According to Roem, Marshall intentionally misgendered her by using male pronouns to describe her when giving a statement to The Washington Post.
“My driver’s license and my passport both identify me as female, but apparently government-issued IDs aren’t good enough for Delegate Marshall anymore,” Roem said. “In his worldview, here he is the one who gets to decide what my gender is.”
Outlets like NBC News and The Washington Post have celebrated her historic achievement. And that doesn’t bother Roem either.
“It doesn’t matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship or who you love,” Roem said, echoing a line previously used in her campaign. “If you have a public policy idea… you have just as much right to bring your idea to the table as anyone else.”
By A Plus’ ISAAC SAUL