Danica Roem makes history as Virginia's first transgender state senator

After this critical election, Virginia remains the only southern state in the US with more protections for LGBTQ+ people than discriminatory policies.

Photo of Danica who was elected as a US State of Virginia senator
Image: X @AustinHellerGA

On Tuesday, November 7, in a critical election for LGBTQ+ people, Danica Roem was elected as the first out transgender state senator in the US State of Virginia.

Danica Roem, 39, is a Democrat who has been serving in the Virginia House of Delegates representing northern Virginia cities since 2018, when she became the first openly transgender person to serve in the Virginia House of Delegates. Her 2017 opponent, Bob Marshall, advocated for a bill that would require people to use bathrooms that corresponded to the assigned gender at birth.

By being elected to the Virginia Senate, Danica becomes the second out trans state senator in the country, following Delaware’s Sarah McBride, and the first elected in any southern state. Roem defeated conservative Republican police detective Bill Woolf who ran on a campaign to ban transgender student athletes from competing in school sports.

In an X statement thanking her constituents, Danica said: “For the last six years, I’ve focused on serving my constituents and our community no matter what they looked like, where they come from, how they worship if they do, or who they love.”


During the race, Roem encountered a deluge of hate and transphobic attacks from Republicans, and LGBTQ+ Victory Fund President and CEO Annise Parker said: “Her win tonight will make national headlines and serves as a deafening rebuke to bigots who continue to try and silence the LGBTQ+ community and trans people in particular.”

Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson told The Hill, “This is historic for Danica, and this is historic for Virginia, but I think for every queer person, for every trans person, for every person of colour, for anyone that’s been at the margins, it is historic for all of the gains that we’re seeing happen.”


Virginia is a rare safe haven for LGBTQ+ people living in the south of the country. Even as Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin has tried to restrict trans rights in the state, Virgina remains the only southern state in the US with more LGBTQ+ protections than discriminatory policies.

The state bans conversion therapy, has LGBTQ+ employment protections, and inclusive hate crime laws, and health insurers are not allowed to discriminate against trans people. Because of these guaranteed protections, families living in nearby states are also able to access gender-affirming care.

Tuesday’s election was critical for maintaining these LGBTQ+ rights. In addition to Roem’s victory, Virginia voters managed to maintain a Democratic majority in both the State Senate and House of Delegates, which means these protections will stay in place.

Narissa Rahaman, Executive Director of Equality Virginia, said: “This year, specifically this session, we had over 12 anti-trans bills introduced in the state legislature, and that was the most we have ever had, even when we’ve been under previous Republican trifectas.” With these election results, bills like these will continue to be blocked in the Democrat-controlled state Senate.

In addition to Virginia, Democrats scored major victories across the US. Ohio successfully legally protected abortion access in their state’s Constitution, and Democratic Governor Andy Beshear won reelection in Kentucky against an opponent who tried to ban access to gender-affirming health care.

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