November 6, 2019 at 6:49 am PST | by Michael K. Lavers
Danica Roem defeats Republican challenger in Va.

Virginia state Del. Danica Roem speaks to voters at a polling place in Manassas Park, Va., on Nov. 5, 2019. Roem made history as the first openly transgender state legislator to be re-elected. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

MANASSAS, Va. — Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) on Tuesday defeated Republican challenger Kelly McGinn.

Roem defeated McGinn by 57-43 percent margin.

Roem — a former journalist who has represented the 13th District in the Virginia House of Delegates since 2018 — is the first openly transgender person seated in any state legislature in the U.S. Roem is the first openly trans state legislator re-elected.

Her support of the expansion of Virginia’s Medicaid program and efforts to reduce traffic congestion on Route 28 are among the issues on which she campaigned. Family Foundation Action, an anti-LGBTQ group with which McGinn has strong ties, and the Prince William County Republican Committee are among those that attacked Roem based on her gender identity.

“To the people of the 13th District: Thank you so much for the confidence you’ve shown in my team and me by such an overwhelming margin,” tweeted Roem after she won re-election. “I’m grateful to represent you because of who you are — never despite it.”

Roem spoke to supporters who were attending an Election Night party at City Tavern in Manassas the Manassas and Manassas Park Cities Democratic Committee organized.

“The way that we won this race was by taking care of our constituents for the last two years,” said Roem. “It was by doing what the people asked us to do.”

LGBTQ activists across the country applauded Roem’s re-election.

“Danica Roem has once again made history, becoming the longest-serving and first openly transgender elected official to be re-elected in our nation’s history,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David in a statement. “Throughout her tenure in the House of Delegates, Roem has remained focused on the needs of her constituents, despite hateful and divisive attacks from anti-LGBTQ groups and her opponents. From expanding Medicaid and providing health care to 400,000 Virginians to improving Route 28, Delegate Roem has been an effective leader in Richmond — and she isn’t finished yet.”

LGBTQ Victory Fund President Annise Parker echoed David.

“In 2017, Danica wrote the playbook on how transgender candidates can defeat anti-LGBTQ opponents through authenticity and attention to everyday issues — and her reelection victory sets it in stone,” said Parker in a press release. “Voters did not head to the polls to make history, yet they proved trans candidates can win battleground races in battleground states despite transphobic attacks from opponents.”

“Danica inspired trans people across the nation to run for office,” she added. “Her reelection proves that political revolution is a lasting transformation — not an aberration.”

Daye Pope of the Trans United Fund in a fundraising appeal it sent to supporters described Roem’s re-election as “a victory for trans rights and for working people everywhere.” Roem referred to her constituents when the Los Angeles Blade asked her at City Tavern whether she considers herself a pioneer.

“The people who I represent said, ‘Yeah we know she’s trans and she’s a good legislator and she’s great at constituent service and we think that she’s doing a good job,'” she said after she spoke to her supporters.

“I hope the message that sends to trans people around the country is that politics is open to you too, and not just politics but whatever you want to pursue in life it’s open to you too and people will actually respect your right to do it,” she added.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Los Angeles Blade. Follow Michael

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