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Posted: November 09, 2017

Who is Danica Roem? Virginia elects first openly transgender state legislator

What You Need To Know About Danica Roem

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Who is Danica Roem? Virginia elects first openly transgender state legislator
FILE - In this June 21, 2017, file photo, Democratic nominee for the House of Delegates 13th district seat Danica Roem brings campaign signs as she greets voters while canvasing a neighborhood in Manassas, Va. Roem, a former journalist, is challenging longtime incumbent Bob Marshall. If elected, Roem would be the state’s first transgender representative. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

By Najja Parker, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Many political contenders earned new titles as the results from Election Day rolled in Tuesday, but one Virginia politician also became a history maker as the first openly transgender woman elected and seated in a U.S. state legislature.

>> Chris Hurst, whose girlfriend was killed on live TV, wins Virginia delegate seat

Democrat Danica Roem, a wife and stepmother of one, beat out 25-year, 13-term incumbent Republican Del. Bob Marshall for the House of Delegates position. 

“Discrimination is a disqualifier,” Roem said Tuesday night as the votes were still being counted. “This is about the people of the 13th District disregarding fear tactics, disregarding phobias ... where we celebrate you because of who you are, not despite it.”

>> Read more trending news 

This is Roem’s first political position. Want to learn more about her? Here are five things you should know:

Roem’s race with Marshall was contentious.

Marshall helped introduce the controversial “bathroom bill," which would restrict the bathrooms transgender individuals would use. While the legislation did not pass, Marshall continued to voice his opinions about the LGBT community. The self-proclaimed “chief homophobe” refused to debate Roem in person and referred to her using male pronouns. He also produced several ads denouncing Roem’s transgender identity. One read, “Danica Roem In His Own Words,” and another stated, “Danica Roem, born male, has made a campaign issue out of transitioning to female.”

>> On AJC.com: Spelman College to admit transgender female students

The Democrat raised more money than her Republican opponent.

The Virginia native raised $500,000, according to The Washington Post. Many of the donations came from LGBT advocates and supporters. While District 13 only has 52,471 registered voters, she reportedly knocked on doors more than 75,000 times. Marshall’s campaign said staffers knocked on voters’ doors about 49,000 times. 

She began her physical transformation about four years ago.

The 33-year-old started her transgender transition in 2013. She began hormone replacement therapy and later changed her name from “Dan” to “Danica."

Roem was an award-winning newspaper reporter.

She graduated from St. Bonaventure University in New York with a degree in journalism. For nine years, she worked for the Gainesville Times and Prince William Times as a reporter and editor. During her stint as a journalist, she was awarded by the Virginia Press Association seven times. 

She plays in a metal band in her spare time. 

Roem sings in a metal band called Cab Ride Home. She’s the lead vocalist of the five-member ensemble, and they have performed more than 100 shows, including in the U.K., according to their website


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