Danica Roem is the master of the political upset. At only 33 years old, she became the first transgender woman to be elected to the Virginia General Assembly in 2017; unseating the 73-year-old Republican incumbent, Robert G. Marshall, a man who had held that position for 13 terms over a span of twenty-five years.
And to better understand the significance of her victory, we need to understand the policies of the man she defeated. Get ready for some utterly infuriating language!
So here we go. Robert Marshall, or “Bigot Bob,” if you’d like to call him, was actually the author of the anti-trans bathroom bill that was making headlines last year. Let me repeat: Danica Roem, the first openly transgender woman elected to the Viriginia General assembly, literally beat the man who was trying to legislate where she could go to the bathroom based on the sex on her birth certificate.
If that’s not totally and completely badass, I don’t know what is.
But it gets better.
Bigot Bob also vehemently opposed same-sex marriage, stating that it went against the “natural order of things” and, according to his twisted view of the world, “a woman’s arm is constructed at a certain angle so she can adequately cradle a baby. That’s the way we’re created. There are certain things nature intended.”
Excuse me, what now?
Oh, and don’t let me forget that he has proudly declared himself Virginia’s “chief homophobe” as well. Yeah, you heard that correctly.
So that’s the kind of man she was up against. And here’s the thing, Danica was unabashedly open about her transgender status. One of her ads on YouTube even showed her putting on makeup and taking her hormones, yet claiming that this in no way affected her ability to represent the people of Virginia. I mean since when has putting on makeup ever affected our ability to do anything ladies, am I right?
Good ol’ Bigot Bob, however, refused to call her by the correct pronouns and even refused to debate her.
But guess what, Danica did not to let this stop her. She ran a smart, efficient campaign that focused on the transportation and economic issues that her constituents wanted to hear. She kept her focus. Her campaign was just… better.
Oh, she also outraised Bigot Bob by a margin of 5 to 1, and even Vice President Joe Biden endorsed her as well.
So how did she get here? Well Danica was actually born and raised in Prince William County, Virginia. She attended St. Bonaventure University in New York, majored in journalism, and then moved back to Virginia after graduating. She began her nine-year career in journalism as the lead reporter for the Gainesville Times and the Prince William Times.
Danica came out as a transgender woman in 2013, having begun her transition in 2012. Two years later, in 2015, she legally changed her name from Dan to Danica. And now we all know what happened in 2017!
So here’s the thing, Danica declared her candidacy in January of last year. Does that date sound familiar? This is why protesting, why raising your voice, is so important. Look at all that has been accomplished in the single year since the first Women’s March of last year: in addition to Danica’s accomplishment Vi Lyles became the first African-American mayor of Charlotte, Joyce Craig became Manchester, New Hampshire’s first female mayor, and Yvonne Spicer became Framingham, Massachusetts’s first female mayor as well. Two other women in Virginia, Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala, became the first Latina members of the Virginia House of Delegates as well.
Those are truly, truly incredible strides that we have accomplished in a very short amount of time. This is what democracy looks like. This is what expressing your voice, your opinion, your values, achieves. And no matter your political party, I encourage you to speak up, to live your life out loud. News Macarons has never been a political media platform, but in times such as these it is so important that we take a moment to listen to all parties involved and to treat each other with the compassion and humanity that we all deserve.
The moral of the story is this: you are stronger than you think, and you will overcome your monster, no matter what that might be in your life right now. You can, and you will.