In a night of firsts, a transgender candidate was elected state legislator – beating a Republican who had served 13 terms
A politician who led attempts to limit the public toilets available to transgender people has been ousted from his seat by a transgender candidate.
Following Tuesday’s results (7 November), former journalist Danica Roem is set to become the first openly transgender person elected to serve in a US state legislature, removing Robert Marshall from the Virginia seat he had held for 26 years.
Republican Marshall had sponsored the Physical Privacy Act – a similar law to North Carolina’s ‘bathroom bill’ – proposed legislation that would have forced transgender people to only use the toilets and locker rooms in schools, rest stops and government-owned buildings of the gender stated on their original birth certificates.
The bill was rejected in January this year. Marshall, who has previously described himself as the state’s “chief homophobe”, claimed the bill was to protect women and girls. Speaking to NBC Out, he said: “All I want is the status quo.
“A guy right now who plays on the football team cannot go into the girls’ locker room and demand to shower with the cheerleaders. A biological male right now cannot use the female bathrooms. That’s not revolutionary. That’s not bigoted. That’s not prejudiced. That’s common sense.”
While campaigning, ultra-conservative Marshall – on record as anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ – repeatedly used the wrong pronouns for Roem, and according to The Washington Post, a Republican flyer accused Roem of “wanting transgenderism taught to kindergartners”. The claim followed an interview in which she supported addressing LGBTQ issues in schools “in an age-appropriate manner.”
Roem said after her win, split roughly as 55% to 45%: “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.”
Her candidacy was described as “trailblazing” by LGBTQ advocacy groups.
Later in the night, Andrea Jenkins also made history by becoming the first transgender woman of colour elected to US public office after winning a Minneapolis City Council seat.
One other transgender politician has won a seat previously, Stacie Laughton, who won in New Hampshire in 2012 but never took office after a furore over an undisclosed conviction.