Danica Roem becomes the United States first openly transgender person to be elected to state office . Photo courtesy of the Danica Roem Campaign.
After a year of hate from the Trump White House and state legislators, its celebration for the LGBTIQ community in the US, with five LGBTIQ people voted into office in local and state elections on Tuesday.
33 year old transgender woman Danica Roem has been elected to the Virginia House Of Delegates, becoming Virginia's first out transgender public official and the United States only out transgender state representative. She beat self-describe “chief homophobe,” Republican Bob Marshall, who was running for his 14th term in office.
Earlier this year, Marshall introduced the Physical Privacy Act, which aimed to force transgender people to use the bathrooms that correspond with their gender at birth, but the bill was defeated. During the campaign, Marshall referred to Roem using male pronouns, refused to debate her and continued his anti-LGBTQ speech. Marshall didn't acknowledge Roem in the concession speech he posted on Facebook.
“Discrimination is a disqualifier,” Roem said after her win on Tuesday night. “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.”
“Danica Roem’s historic victory is a clear warning to anti-equality lawmakers across the country that the days of attacking LGBTQ people to scare up votes are over,” said the Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “HRC was proud to mobilize voters to support Danica Roem’s trailblazing candidacy, and we look forward to working with her to help continue moving equality forward in Virginia.”
Also on Tuesday, 56 year old African-American transgender woman, Andrea Jenkins, became the first transgender person of colour to be elected to any office in the US. Jenkins won approximately 73% of the votes to be elected to the City Council in Minneapolis' Eighth Ward.
Andrea Jenkins is the first transgender woman of colour elected to public office in the USA. Photo courtesy of the Andrea Jenkins Campaign.
“Transgender people have been here forever, and black transgender people have been here forever,” she told The Washington Post after her win. “I’m really proud to have achieved that status, and I look forward to more trans people joining me in elected office, and all other kinds of leadership roles in our society.”
In Seattle, Washington, Jenny Durkan became the first openly lesbian woman to be elected mayor of the city and Seattle’s first female mayor since the 1920s. She is only the second openly lesbian mayor of a major city in the United States. In Doraville, in the conservative state of Georgia, Stephe Koontz became the first out transgender woman to be elected to the City Council. And in the borough of Milford, Pennsylvania, openly gay man Sean Strub was appointed mayor. Strub is a long-term AIDS survivor, writer and activist who runs the Sero Project, which fights the stigmatisation and discrimination of HIV positive people. "Last night was a victory for so many remarkable LGBTQ candidates, but it was also a victory for inclusion and acceptance," said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD.
“This is a clear repudiation of President Trump’s hate-fuelled politics of bullying and browbeating. Yesterday, Americans took to the polls and chose optimism, hope, and new leadership – and this is only the beginning of our resistance.”