Danica Roem has become the first transgender person to be elected and seated to a state parliament in the United States.
The 33-year-old journalist turned public works advocate, has won Virginia’s 13th District House of Delegates seat where she beat out the district’s 26-year incumbent, conservative values and government transparency champion Bob Marshall.
The race attracted national attention as Marshall, 73, a conservative who proposed a bill restricting which bathrooms transgender people could use, faced off against the transgender stepmother who plays in a metal band.
The district also found itself in the spotlight as one of a few Republican-governed areas that voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race.
Roem, speaking to MSNBC by phone following her victory, said that her campaign was based on a platform of “building up our infrastructure instead of tearing down each other.”
She said she didn’t want to “pile on” after a hard night for Marshall and his supporters. But she said it was important to note that discrimination “is a disqualifier.”
Roem ran on a platform focused on infrastructure projects to create jobs and fix Virginia’s clogged Route 28, along with raising teacher pay.
Marshall put government issues at the centre of his campaign, promoting government transparency, small businesses and school choice for parents.
Roem spent more time in the spotlight than her opponent. Marshall refused to debate Roem and often declined interviews.
In an NPR interview in September, Marshall said the election was about America’s national character and Roem was going against nature.
“Danica clearly is out here doing this for making a marker in the national character that you can engage in this behaviour — which clearly goes against the laws of nature and nature’s God — and hold public office to make decisions on behalf of the common good,” Marshall said.
“That is what is kind of at stake here.”
After President Donald Trump announced on Twitter his intention to ban transgender people from the military, Roem received $52,000 in donations in one day, News4 reported.
The outside money came throughout the campaign, though.
Roem was supported by Victory Fund, a national group that aims to elect LGBTQ leaders. Some of her largest campaign donations, according to Virginia Department of Elections filings, were from individuals in New York and Chris Abele, a county executive from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who donated $40,000.
During the final fundraising period of the race, Roem brought in more than $300,000, significantly more than Marshall’s roughly $165,000.
Roem becomes not only her state’s first transgender legislator but also the only out trans-state legislator in the country, according to the Victory Fund.
In 2012, Democrat Stacie Laughton became the first openly transgender candidate elected to a state legislature.
But she was never seated in the New Hampshire House after revelations that she had failed to disclose a felony conviction, The New York Times reported.
Another lawmaker, Althea Garrison, came out as transgender while serving in the Massachusetts House but lost subsequent races.
Source via NBCnews.com