Danica Roem to become Virginia's 1st transgender state senator

Roem is only the second out transgender person elected to a state Senate, following Delaware’s Sarah McBride.

Danica Roem.Julia Rendleman / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

Virginia Del. Danica Roem has made political history once again after winning a seat in the state Senate on Tuesday. She is the first out transgender person elected to Virginia’s upper chamber and only the second trans person elected to any state Senate in the United States, following Delaware’s Sarah McBride in 2020.

Roem, a Democrat, defeated her Republican opponent, Bill Woolf, by more than 3 percentage points. Woolf, a former Fairfax County police officer, was endorsed by the state’s Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin. 

“I’m grateful the people of Virginia’s 30th Senate district elected me to continue representing my lifelong home of western Prince William County and greater Manassas,” Roem said in a statement shared on social media Tuesday. “The voters have shown they want a leader who will prioritize fixing roads, feeding kids and protecting our land instead of stigmatizing trans kids or taking away your civil rights.”

Roem, a 39-year-old former journalist, first made political history six years ago when she became the first out transgender person elected and seated in a state legislature. In doing so, she defeated one of Virginia’s longest serving and socially conservative lawmakers.

Annise Parker, president and CEO of the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, a national organization dedicated to getting LGBTQ people elected to public office, said Roem’s win Tuesday “serves as a deafening rebuke to bigots who continue to try and silence the LGBTQ+ community and trans people in particular.”

“Danica faced an unprecedented deluge of anti-trans hate on the campaign trail, but she was not phased nor distracted,” Parker, a former mayor of Houston, said in a statement. “She made LGBTQ+ history tonight because she put constituents first, speaking to the real issues that impact children and their families in Virginia, from fixing roads to ensuring kids and families have food on the table.”

In an article published in The Advocate last week, Roem said her opponents' supporters have criticized her support of transgender student-athletes and have accused her of not protecting women’s sports by allowing “boys in girls’ spaces.”

Narissa Rahaman, the executive director of Equality Virginia, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy group, said Roem’s “victory is both groundbreaking and heartening for our commonwealth’s future.”

“Senator-Elect Roem’s victory shows, once again, that anti-LGBTQ+ policies and personal attacks are a losing strategy in the commonwealth,” she said in a statement. “From the beginning, Danica has put her constituents first: focusing on the issues that matter most in her district. We know she will continue to do so in the Senate, and we’re thrilled that her voters see what we see: a dedicated, effective and strong leader for all Virginians.”

Roem wasn’t the only LGBTQ Virginian to emerge victorious this week: According to the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, eight other queer candidates won legislative seats in the state Tuesday, including three who were not incumbents. 

The success of Virginia’s LGBTQ candidates was part of a broader “rainbow wave” this year, according to the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund. The group said it has tracked more than 200 victories for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer candidates so far this year, including at least 148 wins Tuesday.