Virginia House of Delegates candidate Danica Roem (D) has become the state’s first openly transgender elected official.
Roem ousted Virginia’s most socially conservative lawmaker by besting longtime Del. Robert Marshall (R) in an election that evening.
Advocates say that Roem’s victory in suburban Prince William County also makes her the first openly transgender person seated in a U.S. state’s legislature.
A transgender candidate was elected in New Hampshire in 2012 but did not take office.
A transgender person also served in the Massachusetts legislature in the early 1990s but was not openly transgender while campaigning.
“Discrimination is a disqualifier,” Roem said Tuesday night as her margin of victory over Marshall materialized.
“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,” the 33-year-old former journalist added.
Marshall, 73, was a 13-term incumbent who refused to debate Roem and addressed her with male pronouns before Tuesday’s result.
“For 26 years I’ve been proud to fight for you, and fight for our future,” he wrote in a concession message on Facebook.
“I’m committed to continue the fight for you, but in a different role going forward,” Marshall added.
Marshall once referred to himself as Virginia’s “chief homophobe,” and he previously authored a bill requiring people to use the restroom corresponding with the sex on their birth certificate.
Roem’s contest with Marshall was one of dozens in which Democrats pushed for gains in Virginia’s GOP-majority General Assembly Tuesday.
Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Tuesday also defeated Republican Ed Gillespie in the race to become the state’s next governor.
The win was the first significant victory for Democrats since President Trump entered the White House last January.