In Depth

Danica Roem: who is first transgender woman to be elected to US state legislature?

The heavy metal singer, journalist, and stepmum just made history as the first transgender state lawmaker elected in the US

Danica Roem has just made US history as the first openly transgender state lawmaker to be elected.

Roem defeated Bob Marshall, who wrote the “Physical Privacy Act” to require people to use the restroom that corresponds to the gender they were assigned at birth, to get a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.

All eyes are now on Roem after unseating the anti-LGBT lawmaker who has been on the Virginia legislature since 1992.

Prior to her election, Roem was an award-winning reporter for the Virginia Press Association and singer of the thrash metal band Cab Ride Home.

The 33-year-old is also stepmother to a public school child, which led her to be a strong voice on the Prince William County School Board. In front of the board, Roem has publicly condemned speeches by Marshall twice.

Prior to her victory, Roem said she recognises that she isn’t a typical politician. 

“Just because I sing in a heavy metal band while spinning my head in circles and getting paid to do it, why can't I run for government? Why would I have to change who I am in order to run for government,” she told Noisey. “I've already had to go through transformative change.”

When Roem announced her candidacy she decided she wanted to focus on issues such as traffic, jobs and improving schools instead of the politics of running as a transgender woman. "But she doesn’t shy away from her gender identity, in one campaign advert she applied makeup and took hormone pills," says Reuters.   

Throughout the campaign her rival, Bob Marshall often referred to her as a man, refused to debate her and attacked her views on LGBTQ rights. 

Roem told Noisey that she knew transphobia was “alive and well” after the comments she saw written about her after she announced her intention to run for office, but added “there's a lot more nice than there is hate here.”

Roem emerged to a crowd of cheering supporters after defeating Marshall and leading by nearly 10 percentage points, according to the New Zealand Herald

“Discrimination is a disqualifier,” Roem said. “This is about the people of the 13th District disregarding fear tactics, disregarding phobias... where we celebrate you because of who you are, not despite it.”

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