Danica Roem is a rock star.
She sings in a thrash metal band called Cab Ride Home, based in Manassas, Virginia. They released their new album, “Crash the Gate,” in April.
Manassas, for the unfamiliar, is toward the Blue Ridge Mountains in Northern Virginia. It’s best known as home to a huge battle during the U.S. Civil war
And now it’s home to the nation’s first openly transgendered elected official.
Danica Roem is a badass.
Her opponent for the seat was Bob Marshall, a good ol’ boy if ever there was one. Marshall introduced a “bathroom bill” even more restrictive than the one in North Carolina – the one that cost the state millions after sporting events and concerts ran like crazy after it was enacted. The bill Marshall brought to the House of Delegates in January 2016 would have required school principals to notify parents when and if a child asked to be treated as a gender other than how they were enrolled in school.
At the time, Marshall “expressed fear that men and boys will pretend to be transgender to infiltrate bathrooms and locker rooms used by women and girls,” the Washington Post reported. “Some guys will use anything to make a move on some teenage girls or women,” he said. “Mere separation of the sexes should not be considered discrimination.”
(Side note: Keep in mind that Marshall’s a Republican, a member of a party that, as of this writing, is still defending the practices of a candidate who made passes at a 14-year-old girl when he was 32, a party that is using Bible verses to justify his actions and keep him engaged in his race for elected office. OK. )
He has also proudly referred to himself as the commonwealth’s “chief homophobe.” He’s been outspoken in opposition to same-sex marriage, at one time saying that it not only violated the natural order of things, but saying that women’s arms are “constructed at a certain angle so that she can adequately cradle a baby.”
Roem is a journalist by trade, a graduate of St. Bonaventure University in Olean, N.Y. (Full disclosure: So am I. Roem graduated in 2006, meaning she would’ve started in the same journalism program from which I graduated the semester after I left, give or take a year. I did not know her then; I do not know her now.)
Virginia has been a red state for a while, with pockets of deep blue and purple in Northern Virginia just outside Washington, D.C. Cities like Arlington and Alexandria are filled with workers who hop on the Metro each morning and work in the capital city. University towns like Charlottesville, Richmond and Roanoke have been islands of purple for more than a decade.
On Election Night 2017, Virginians elected a Democratic governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, in addition to sending more women to their state legislature.
All eyes are on Roem. She beat Marshall by 10 point. During his last election, Marshall won by 12 points. He’s had that seat in the House of Delegates since 1992.
A little about her background: Roem was born and raised in Prince William County, Virginia, which she’ll represent. According to her bio, she had 13 years of Catholic schooling and worked for the Gainseville Times after graduating.
“I started transitioning while working at the newspaper in 2012, began hormone replacement therapy Dec. 3, 2013, changed my name, gender and byline in 2015 and no one cared,” she said. “It was great. I could just keep doing my job.”
Of her interest in politics, she says “I want to bring a reporter’s sensibility to Mr. Jefferson’s Capitol. I’m running for office to help improve our quality of life by working on the issues I spent nine years reporting about for the newspaper.”
Roem outraised Marshall three-to-one and knocked on more than 75,000 doors. Marshall referred to Roem with male pronouns and refused to debate her.
In her victory speech, Roem said her win was dedicated to “every person who’s ever been singled out, who’s ever been stigmatized, who’s ever been the misfit, who’s ever been the kid in the corner, who’s ever needed someone to stand up for them when they didn’t have a voice of their own. This one is for you.”
When asked about whether she had anything to say to Marshall, or about the campaign he ran, Roem had probably the best answer of any politician ever, which has been widely reported:
“I don’t attack my constituents. Bob is my constituent now,” she said.
All indications are that Roem intends to keep singing in her band, by the way. The House of Delegates is a part-time job. When she first launched her campaign, Roem told Noisey “Just because I sing in a heavy metal band while spinning my head in circles and getting paid to do it, why can’t I run for government.”