Virginia state Del. Danica Roem on Monday announced she is running for the state Senate.
Roem, 37, is running to represent the newly redistricted Senate District 30, which includes western Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.
“I know the issues,” Roem told the Washington Blade before her announcement. “I am just as comfortable defending the Rural Crescent (in Prince William County) from development as I am about talking about Route 28 in Manassas.”
Roem in 2018 became the first openly transgender person stated in a state legislature in the U.S. Roem in 2019 became the first out trans state legislator to win re-election.
Delaware state Sen. Sarah McBride in 2020 became the first out trans person elected to a state senate in the U.S. Roem would become the second openly trans state senator in the country if she were to win her race in 2023.
Former Manassas City Council member Ian Lovejoy is the only Republican who has announced he is running for the seat. Roem is the only Democrat who has thus far entered the race.
“The reason I’m running for state Senate in 2023 is to keep continuing the constituent work that I’ve been doing,” Roem told the Blade.
Roem noted 32 of her bills have passed in the General Assembly since her election.
Former Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, last year signed Roem’s bill that bans the so-called LGBTQ panic defense in Virginia. Roem’s measure that expanded the state’s free school breakfast and lunch programs also took effect in 2020.
Roem noted to the Blade that she voted to expand Virginia’s Medicaid program. Roem also pointed out that one of her nine bills that Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has signed will reform the state’s guardianship program.
“We did big things this year with my legislative agenda and we took care of constituent service requests,” said Roem, while noting her platform before the 2023 election will be “fixing roads, feeding kids.”
Roem declared her state Senate candidacy roughly six months after Youngkin defeated former Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Democrats lost control of the House of Delegates.
Democrats maintain a 21-19 majority in the state Senate.
Youngkin last month signed a bill that will require school boards to notify parents about “sexually explicit materials in the classroom.” The measure did not specifically define “sexually explicit content,” and activists have expressed concern that Virginia Republicans will seek to limit student access to LGBTQ materials.
Resolutions to repeal a state constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman died in the General Assembly earlier this year.
Roem noted she “spoke out on the House floor and told the stories of my LGBTQ constituents who are same-sex couples.” Roem in March also corrected state Del. Rob Bell (R-Albemarle County) on the House floor when he misgendered her during a debate over a bill that would once again allow local police and prosecutors to withhold information about inactive cases if they receive a Freedom of Information Act request.
“I’m a good Democrat who also has a very strong bipartisan record,” said Roem. “You don’t pass 32 bills into law as a trans woman without infinite patience.”
Roem acknowledged she is “not getting a world of emails” from her constituents about efforts to repeal LGBTQ rights in Virginia, “but it has come up in conversations one on one.” Roem further reiterated that she will continue to take “on the very people who are stigmatizing trans kids.”
“We’re going to be taking them on directly,” she said. “I don’t attack my constituents. We serve them. They need to see someone in the halls of power who looks like them.”
“My name is the equality part of that platform,” added Roem. “My presence on the ballot as a trans woman running is the equality part of my platform.”
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