It was a historic moment in the United States last night as key areas in political history were marked. Of the many “firsts” in this election, the most inspirational was Democrat Danica Roem, who is now the first openly transgender person to be elected a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Roem was elected over outspoken state lawmaker Robert G Marshall, who has held the house seat since 1992. Marshall previously refused to debate Roem and repeatedly used the wrong gender pronouns when referencing her campaign. Marshall was criticized for his social policy by Roem and often faced controversial issues amongst his own Republican statesmen. Known for his homophobic remarks, Marshall supported restricted bathrooms for transgender people.
Roem openly addressed her gender during her campaign and was open about her transition and the therapy she underwent when she was 28. In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this year, Roem highlighted the fact that politics should be inclusive of all.
” No matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship or who you love, if you have good public policy ideas, if you’re qualified for office, you have every right to bring your ideas to the table.”
Roem beat Marshall by nine percentage points and out-raised Marshall during the campaign, collecting almost $500,000, with a lot of support coming from the LGBT community. While Roem had a strong social media presence and went door to door in the community discussing her platform, Marshall kept his schedule private, instead issuing advertisements attacking Roem’s transgender identity.
Roem referred to Marshall as a mirror of Trump and criticized him on his unwillingness to deal with social issues. When Roem won, many community supporters compared the victory to that of Barack Obama. It is even more inspirational considering the political climate of the United States, where a government exists that is hell bent on refusing basic rights to people within the LGBTQ community.
There were a few other historic wins during Tuesday’s election:
- Andrea Jenkins won a seat in Minneapolis City Council to represent Ward 8. Jenkins is the city’s first openly transgender woman of colour.
- In New Jersey, Ravinder Bhalla was elected as as the first Sikh Mayor in that state.
- Jenny Durkan is the first openly lesbian mayor of Seattle.
- Michelle Kaufusi is the first female mayor in the City of Provo in Utah.
- Vi Lyes is the first black woman to be elected the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina.
- Kathy Tran is the first Asian-American woman to be elected to Virginia House of Delegates.
- Zachary DeWolf is the first openly gay school board member in Seattle.
- Melvin Carter III was elected the first black mayor of St Paul in Minnesota.
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