Danica Roem to become the South’s first transgender state senator | ET REALITY

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Danica Roem, a three-term Virginia lawmaker and former journalist, on Tuesday became the first openly transgender person to be elected to a state Senate seat in the South, winning a competitive race that helped Democrats take control of the Virginia legislature.

Her victory in District 30, in densely populated Northern Virginia, was heralded by LGBTQ groups, which emphasized that she had been the target of sustained anti-transgender rhetoric during the campaign.

She is only the second openly transgender candidate in the country to win a state Senate race. The first was Sarah McBride, who was elected in Delaware in 2020 and is currently running for Congress.

In an interview Wednesday, Ms. Roem, a Democrat, said her opponents went to great lengths to attack her identity, through a barrage of negative ads and mailings.

“For them, being trans was scary,” she said.

Roem, 39, beat Bill Woolf III, a Republican, by fewer than 2,000 votes, giving him just under 52 percent support in a race that drew widespread attention, according to The Associated Press.

Woolf, a former police detective, had touted his endorsement of Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia. The governor, a staunch conservative with national ambitions, has tried to ban transgender girls from competing in women’s athletics.

Since she was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2017, something no other transgender person had done in Virginia history, Roem said her political opponents have spent millions to highlight her identity. In the Senate race, she said, she had been the target of 30 negative ads.

“They bet on transphobia and lost,” he said.

Ms. Roem attributed her electoral success to her focus on helping constituents with everyday quality of life issues including transportation, the environment and universal free meals for children.

His victory contributed to a big night for Democratic and LGBTQ candidates in Virginia, where Republicans, led by Youngkin, attempted to flip the state Senate to give them a monopoly on state government.

Instead, Republicans lost both chambers of the legislature, as voters rejected the plan introduced by Youngkin, which included restrictions on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy and policies affecting transgender people.

The LGBTQ+ Victory Fund said Ms. Roem’s victory was part of a national “rainbow wave” and noted that all nine candidates it had endorsed in Virginia had been elected.

“Danica faced an unprecedented onslaught of anti-trans hate during the election campaign, but she was neither fazed nor distracted,” Annise Parker, the group’s president, said in a statement.

He added: “His victory tonight will make national headlines and serve as a deafening rebuke to bigots who continue to attempt to silence the LGBTQ+ community and trans people in particular.”

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