After defeating incumbent Republican Bob Marshall for the rights to a seat in the Virginia state legislature Tuesday, Danica Roem is set to become the first openly transgender lawmaker to be elected and seated in a state legislature in the U.S. Roem's defeat of Marshall was particularly noteworthy because her opponent had once referred to himself as Virginia's "resident homophobe."
Marshall's campaign ran an ad accusing Roem of engaging in "lewd behavior" and additionally authorized a campaign mailer that misgendered Roem, referring to the candidate with male pronouns. The Marshall campaign later tried to downplay the attacks, and the Republican Party of Virginia claimed in a statement that the mailer in question was "not about Roem being transgender."
Marshall, who served a 13-term tenure spanning 25 years, has a long history of supporting deeply conservative social laws and has previously said that he was on a "crusade" to uphold Christian beliefs. In January, he filed a bill in the Virginia General Assembly that would restrict public bathroom use by transgender individuals, even as he admitted that the bill was unlikely to pass. The bill reportedly inspired Roem to challenge Marshall for his seat.
In her victory speech, Roem said: "When you champion inclusion, when you champion equality, when you champion equity, and you focus on the issues that unite us, like building up our infrastructure, taking care of our roads, making sure that our teacher pay isn't the lowest in Northern Virginia ... This is the important stuff. We can't get lost in discrimination."