On November 8, 39-year-old Danica Roem made history by being elected as Virginia's first transgender senator.
The context: Former LGBTQ+ Victory Fund president Annise Parker told the Associated Press that Roem "faced an unprecedented deluge of anti-trans hate on the campaign trail, but she was not fazed nor distracted."
- A former journalist, heavy metal singer, and food delivery driver, Roem comes from humble beginnings.
- In 2017, Roem became the first transgender candidate to win a legislative seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.
- Roem's 2023 campaign slogan was "Fixing roads, feeding kids." Her campaign website does not focus on her gender identity, but instead focuses on issues like repairing highways, increasing sustainability in transportation, equal access to school meals for kids who have school meal debt, and raising teacher pay.
The bigger picture: Roem beat Republican Bill Woolf, a former detective who resigned in 2017 in the middle of an internal affairs investigation, per the Washington Post.
- Woolf's campaign also focused on banning transgender athletes from competing in sports teams that align with their gender identity.
- Roem's victory is crucial to securing Democratic influence withn a majority-Republican Senate, especially during a time when anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is on the rise.
- Virginia is the only state in the South that has passed nondiscrimination laws for LGBTQ+ people, according to The 19th.
- Virginia is the only low-risk haven in the South with relatively affordable cost of living.
- Roem's victory will secure Virginia's position as a safe haven, at least for the duration of her two-year term.