Danica Roem Officially Sworn In As America's First Openly Trans State Legislator

“We won because I am a transgender woman... because of my inherent identifiers, not despite them... I championed them.”

Danica Roem was sworn in to the Virginia House of Delegates this morning, officially becoming the first openly transgender person to serve in a state legislature.

In November Roem scored an upset victory against 13-term Republican state Del. Bob Marshall, who had trafficked in anti-LGBT rhetoric, refusing both to debate Roem and use her proper pronouns. “Why do you call Danica a female?” he asked a reporter in August. “Did Danica’s DNA change?”

Marshall was also the author of Virginia’s marriage-equality ban and proposed a North Carolina-style bathroom bill in the Old Dominion.

Roem, who was hugged by colleagues as she took her seat, took the high road throughout: When asked about Marshall after the election, she replied, “I don’t attack my constituents. Bob is my constituent now.”


Danica Roem

During the campaign, Roem focused on jobs, infrastructure, and other bread-and-butter issues. But she never shied away from embracing her identity. (While campaigning door-to-door, Roem would often wear a rainbow headscarf.)

J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post

MANASSAS, VA - JUNE 2: Democratic primary candidate Danica Roem makes her pitch to voters at the Bull Run Swim & Raquet Club while debating three fellow Democrats vying to unseat Republican State Delegate Bob Marshall in Manassas, Virginia Friday June 2, 2017. (Photo by J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“We made history tonight,” she declared at newly-elected Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s victory party. “We won because I am a transgender woman... because of my inherent identifiers not despite them. I never ran away from them. I championed them.”

In November, pop singer Demi Lovato brought Roem to the American Music Awards.

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Danica Roem (L) and Demi Lovato attends the 2017 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

“I think what Danica has done is just completely inspirational and she’s a trailblazer” the singer said on the red carpet. “To be a state legislator as a trans woman is groundbreaking and incredible, I have so much respect for her and I wanted to come with her.”

According to the Washington Blade, Roem is one of five openly LGBT members of the Virginia General Assembly, along with Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), state Dels. Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax County), Mark Levine (D-Alexandria) and State Del. Dawn Adams (D-Richmond), the first out lesbian elected to the General Assembly.

The midterm elections saw unprecedented trans representation in politics, with Lisa Middleton winning a seat on the Palm Springs City Council, and Andrea Jenkins claiming victory in the Minneapolis City Council race.