Trans Candidate Wins Virginia House Primary, Makes History

Danica Roem
Danica Roem

Danica Roem has won the Democratic primary for the Virginia House of Delegates’ 13th District, making her the first out transgender candidate to win a Virginia state legislative primary and giving her a chance to be the nation’s only out trans legislator, if she can beat one of the most anti-LGBT lawmakers anywhere.

Roem today bested three other Democrats, and in November she will face Republican Bob Marshall, who has represented the district for 25 years and is known as “Bigot Bob” and “Sideshow Bob” for his extreme anti-LGBT stances and other far-right positions. The district is centered on Prince William County in northern Virginia, not far from Washington, D.C.

Asked how her victory feels, she told The Advocate, “It feels like we need to knock on 20,000 doors over the next four months.” She credited her win to her army of volunteers, who canvassed the district heavily and had a presence in all 18 of its precincts today. And volunteers will be equally needed from now until the November 7 general election, she said.

“This is as serious as it gets,” Roem said. “We have a chance to change the narrative.” She did not run for herself, she added, but for all LGBT people.

A journalist and lifelong resident of Manassas, the historic town that is Prince William County’s seat, Roem had the endorsement of Victory Fund, EMILY’s List, Equality Virginia, and several other organizations. She won the primary over businessman Mansimran Kahlon, former prosecutor Steven Jansen, and Army veteran Andrew Adams.

“Danica Roem is a leader in a national movement of trans candidates who are determined to become a voice for their community in the halls of power,” said Victory Fund president and CEO Aisha C. Moodie-Mills in a press release. “This historic primary win sets up a general election battle where voters will choose between ‘Bigot Bob’ Marshall – the most anti-LGBTQ member of the Virginia state legislature — or Danica, a proud trans woman who is committed to representing all people in her district. I am confident voters will choose leadership over divisiveness and make Danica the first out trans candidate to win and serve in a state legislature.”

Roem told The Advocate she will fight for “transportation, not discrimination,” as the district sorely needs improvements to its highways and expansion of mass transit. Her other priorities include jobs and education, but Marshall, she said, has been focused on proposing anti-LGBT legislation. Just this year, he introduced a “bathroom bill” that would not only prevent transgender students from using the restrooms that match their gender identity, but require teachers to out trans kids to their parents. He used the debunked argument that in the absence of such a measure, men would pretend to be transgender prey on women in restrooms.

He also led the movement to block a gay prosecutor from a judgeship in Virginia, saying a gay person would not be “temperamentally suited” to the job; that gay people shouldn’t serve in the military because they might have HIV; and that if a woman has an abortion, “nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children,” making them more likely to have disabilities.

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