Analysis: how Danica Roem is making history


Photo by Ted Eytan from Flickr with permission

Brianna Noel, Guest Writer

Story: On November 7th, 2017, the first openly transgender person to be elected and seated in a Virginia legislature and U.S. statehouse paved the way for many other transgender people. 33-year-old Danica Roem, the woman who beat out “chief homophobe” Bob Marshall on that historic Tuesday, creating an impression on history.

In the past decade, times have truly changed, and rights for minorities have become more of a demand than a subdued want. While some people— especially older, and especially in power— don’t quite understand, Roem’s election just might be saying something about the younger generation. Opposing candidate and well-known LGBT+ enemy Bob Marshall, or “Bigot Bob” as some of Roem’s supporters took to calling him, says something about the older generations as a now past delegate of Virginia. Roem is a transgender woman, which led her to be treated unfairly by Marshall during their campaigns. Marshall, the man behind the repealed bathroom bill that restricted transgender people to the bathroom their born sex aligned with, refused to debate Roem in person, would only refer to her with male pronouns, and often specifically targeted her gender identity. Roem, however, did not make her only point to talk about who she is, never once shying away from it, but also not trying to use it as an advantage among young voters. In her infrequency to address it, she says that transgender is not all that she is, and others have begun to accept this.

It was never unknown to the outspoken Democrat’s supporters about her identity. She often flaunted a rainbow headscarf while campaigning, and though her victory was considered a huge success for the trans community, she says she does not want to only focus on equality but also local issues. “A well-qualified, knowledgeable transgender person can do great work in government, whether it’s dealing with transportation policy, education policy, or, yeah, civil rights, too,” she told CNN. Roem has proven to be that exact well-qualified, knowledgeable transgender person we need right now as a journalist extremely involved in local politics, and she’s already proving to us that her campaign was no joke.

Danica isn’t the only transgender person to run or even to be elected, however. In the past, women like Stacie Laughton and Althea Garrison have run and either lost the election or their reelection, stepped down from their positions, or never took them at all. Both of them, and others like them, were signs of progression in the American beliefs, signs of what people thought of the trans community at the time, and Roem may be the sign that doors are finally opening much wider for transgender people. In the other primaries held on Nov. 7, several other transgenders including Tyler Titus, Steph Koontz, and Andrea Jenkins were elected to hold positions in multiple states.

I don’t think it should be a question for anyone anymore. Transgender people are still people, and I hope that Roem can help everyone begin to realize that. With her interesting quirks— like the fact that she’s a stepmom in a metal band— and her determination to do good, hopefully, transphobes, homophobes, and everyone else wary of change will be able to relate to her, or at the very least begin to see her as a human. In Roem’s words, “discrimination is a disqualifier,” and it’s about time we start becoming qualified.

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