Her opponent questioned her gender identity, consistently referred to her using the incorrect pronouns, tried to drum up anti-trans sentiment to beat her — and still, she persisted. Virginia's Danica Roem made history Tuesday night by becoming the first openly trans state legislator to serve in the United States (back in 2012, trans candidate Stacie Laughton was elected in New Hampshire, but never served), and promptly took the high road when asked about Roem's opponent, Del. Bob Marshall. “I don't attack my constituents," she told assembled press, according to a tweet by journalist Nicholas Trevino. "Bob is my constituent now.”
As state delegate, Marshall advocated for anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ policies long before Roem even came into the picture. Marshall tried to introduce an anti-transgender "bathroom bill" that would ban transgender individuals in Virginia from using the bathroom in line with their gender identity; Marshall has also referred to himself as the "chief homophobe" in Virginia. Yet, Roem refused to sink to his level, not during their contentious head-to-head nor after she beat him. "She has more grace and composure than I will ever have," tweeted Trevino.
Marshall's platform going into the Tuesday race was bitterly anti-trans: He released a flier reading, "Danica Roem, born male, has made a campaign issue out of transitioning to female," and referred consistently to Roem using incorrect gender pronouns. In a statement defending his flier, Marshall also noted that Roem would push for "transgenderism [to be] taught to kindergartners,” apparently referring to an interview that Roem had given about educating students on issues of diversity.
Marshall did more than misgender his opponent: He also flat-out refused to debate her, claiming that her team wasn't playing fair (partially due to his nickname: "Bigot Bob"). Roem addressed his issues head-on, insisting in her campaign platform that Marshall's bigotry distracted him from the district's real issues — chiefly that of Route 28, which regularly chokes morning commuters in traffic — and that his anti-LGBTQ views held back the district in both a moral and productive sense.
Roem won comfortably on Tuesday night, perhaps because she stood not only for a moral high ground but also for the issue that the district's voters are often swayed by: Route 28, which Roem has pledged to fix. Marshall, on the other hand, was known chiefly for his bigoted attacks on Roem.
People in Virginia and beyond were moved by Roem's refusal to use the same tactics as her opponent. There's also an undercurrent of shade in her response — "Bob is my constituent now" — that no doubt served to put Marshall in his place.
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"Discrimination is a disqualifier," Roem said upon learning of her victory, according to The Washington Post.