It's time for politics "to stop making people feel bad about themselves," said Danica Roma.
In an interview with Britain's Channel 4 News, the first openly transgender state lawmaker advocated for respect and responsibility in politics, in an era when many politicians attempt to demonize others for gain.
"Doesn't matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship, or who you love ... you should be able to thrive here," said Roem. "You should be able to succeed here ... because your government has your back, instead of singling you out and trying to make you feel bad about yourself."
"Do your job," she urged lawmakers.
Earlier this month, Roem made LGBT history when she bested a transphobic candidate to win a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Speaking to Channel 4, Roem revealed that it was Donald Trump's presidential win that made her realize that the rules of the game had changed.
"When you brag about sexually assaulting women, and then you get elected anyway? There's no barrier for entry anymore," Roem said, adding, "What are they gonna hit me on, my gender? OK, they did."
But the road to the election wasn't easy. In the interview, Roem also discussed the hardships of the campaign.
"When people asked me how many doors I knocked on, I always say 'this many,'" said Roem, holding up her shoe with a worn sole.
The Republican leader in Virginia's House of Delegates should listen to Roem's advice about respect in politics — Kirk Cox wants to do away with the 400-year-old tradition of gendered titles, and many believe it's in order to avoid referring to Roem as "gentlewoman."
"If Danica Roem had not won the election we would still be doing the same thing we have done for 400 years, calling each other gentleman or gentlelady," said Kenneth Plum, a Democrat in the Virginia House of Delegates. "It’s unfortunate that we, in effect, have to single out her election, as unique as it is."
But Roem, a born leader, turned Cox’s cynical move into a teachable moment, focusing on the message her win sends to trans people who now know that they can be elected to office.
"I hope the unintended consequences of this will be non-binary Virginians feeling emboldened to run for office & win," Roem tweeted.
Watch Roem's interview with Britain's Channel 4 News below.