|Member of the Virginia House of Delegates|
from the 13th district
|Assumed office |
January 10, 2018
|Preceded by||Bob Marshall|
|Born||September 30, 1984|
Manassas, Virginia, U.S.
|Education||St. Bonaventure University (BA)|
Danica Roem (// ROHM; born September 30, 1984) is an American journalist and politician of the Democratic Party. In the 2017 Virginia elections she was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, winning the Democratic primary for the 13th district on June 13, and the general election on November 7. She is the first openly transgender person to be elected to the Virginia General Assembly, and in January 2018 became the first to both be elected and serve while openly transgender in any U.S. state legislature.[a] In December 2017 The Advocate named her as a finalist for its "Person of the Year". In January 2018, Roem was included on the cover of Time Magazine in their "The Avengers" feature, highlighting new women candidates and elected officials from around the country.
In 2018, Roem earned the Gainesville Times / Prince William Times “Readers Choice Award” for “Best Local Politician” because of her focus on constituent service. Roem was awarded Victory Institute's “Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award” in 2018 for her dedicated work for the LGBTQ community.
Early life and education
Roem was born at Prince William Hospital and raised in Manassas, Virginia, the child of Marian and John Paul Roem. Her father died of suicide when she was three years old, and her maternal grandfather, Anthony Oliveto, acted as a father figure. Living in Manassas, Virginia, for her whole life, she attended the majority of her schooling there. She went to Loch Lomond Elementary School for grades K-3, and then All Saints School for grades 4-8. She then attended Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Virginia and then went to her aunt and uncle's alma mater, St. Bonaventure University in St. Bonaventure, New York, to pursue journalism. As a student at St. Bonaventure University, she had a 1.1 GPA her first semester and was more focused on music than homework. During her second semester, she made a comeback and raised her GPA to a 3.48 and made the Dean's List. Her professors described her as tenacious, persistent, and one who worked for those whose voices were often ignored. She returned to Virginia after graduation.
When Roem was a child, her grandfather would tell her, "the basis of my knowledge comes from reading the newspaper every day." This influenced her to become a journalist. She was a journalist for ten and a half years. Her first job out of college, in 2006, was at the Gainesville Times in Gainesville, Virginia. As Dan Roem, she was lead reporter for the Gainesville Times and Prince William Times. She then went to work as a news editor in August 2015 at the Montgomery County Sentinel in Rockville, Maryland, where she was employed until December 2016. She then decided to run for public office. She said her journalism career has given her a wide knowledge of policy issues. She won awards[which?] from the Virginia Press Association seven times.
Freedom of the press
In 2020, Roem, a former journalist, co-sponsored a bill (HB 36) to protect freedom of the press. The bill would affirmatively protect the free-speech rights of student journalists at public schools and prohibit school administration from censoring their work unless it is defamatory, violates federal law, or is likely to spur unlawful acts of violence. The bill was co-sponsored in the House by Chris Hurst and has a companion bill in the Senate which was introduced by David Marsden.  The bill was introduced in response to multiple instances of schools censoring journalism by students on campus, which is permitted under the 1988 Supreme Court ruling Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier. Similar bills have been introduced by Roem and other General Assembly members in three previous legislative sessions but have failed to advance.
Roem first became interested in politics in 2004 following President George W. Bush's proposal to add a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. After that, she was interested in looking into how the government operates and how she could change it.
Roem was recruited to run for the Virginia House of Delegates by her local Democratic Party and specifically Delegate Rip Sullivan, the recruiting chair for the Virginia House Democratic Caucus. She states that she had never considered running, but it did not take a lot of convincing. In 2017, a first-time candidate, Roem challenged Republican Bob Marshall, who was a 13-term incumbent representative. Marshall is a self-described "chief homophobe" and was a sponsor on Virginia's bill to end same-sex marriage and Virginia's bathroom bill.
Roem was endorsed by the Victory Fund, EMILY's List, Run for Something, Virginia's List, and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and was able to raise $500,000 in donations, much of it coming from LGBTQ+ supporters and other national allies, out raising her opponent 3-to-1. Her campaign knocked on more than 75,000 doors in a district with only 52,471 voters. Her campaign faced significant transphobic discrimination. Marshall consistently attacked Roem's gender identity through his advertisements. She was also attacked by a conversion therapy advocate, who stated that Roem was trans because her father committed suicide and her grandfather failed to serve as an adequate role model for her. Roem stated that she never wanted the focus to be about her gender, and instead focused mainly on traffic issues in the district that she had faced.
Roem ran as a Democrat in the 2017 election for the 13th District of the Virginia House of Delegates against Republican incumbent Bob Marshall, who has held the office for the past 25 years. In January 2017, Marshall introduced the "Physical Privacy Act" (HB 1612), a bathroom bill which died in committee two weeks later in January. Marshall has referred to himself as Virginia's "chief homophobe".
Roem declared her candidacy in January 2017. She received endorsements from the Victory Fund and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Between April 1 and June 1, Roem received 1,064 donations of under $100, the highest of any delegate candidate in the state other than Chris Hurst. Roem's platform was based on economic and transportation issues, centered on a promise to fix Virginia State Route 28.
In July 2017, following President Donald Trump's announcement of a ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military, Roem received a $50,000 donation from Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.
In September 2017, Roem posted a web video entitled "Inspire", criticizing her opponent's refusal to debate her or to refer to her as a woman. In the video, she says "There are millions of transgender people in the country, and we all deserve representation in government."
In October 2017, Roem's campaign received reports that residents of her district were receiving anti-transgender robocalls. Roem said the calls were being made by the American Principles Project, which has circulated a petition to "Stop Transgender Medical Experimentation on Children". Also in October 2017, the Republican Party of Virginia mailed campaign fliers attacking comments Roem made during a September radio interview. Although the fliers, approved by Roem's opponent, used male pronouns to refer to Roem, the party's executive director dismissed the idea that they were attacking Roem's gender identity.
Over the course of the campaign, she out-raised Marshall by a 5 to 1 margin, collecting over $370,000, including over 4,100 small-dollar donations from Progressive Change Campaign Committee members.
- 2017 Democratic primary
|Danica A. Roem||1,863||42.94%|
|Steven A. Jansen||1,365||31.46%|
|Mansimran Singh Kahlon||821||18.92%|
|Andrew A. Adams||290||6.68%|
- 2017 general election
|Democratic||Danica A. Roem||12,077||53.72%|
|Republican||Bob Marshall (inc.)||10,318||45.89%|
In the 2019 cycle, Roem was challenged by Republican Kelly McGinn, a former human rights lawyer. Roem campaigned heavily on her vote to expand Virginia's Medicaid program and efforts to reduce traffic on the congested Route 28. On November 5, 2019, Roem defeated McGinn, becoming the first openly transgender state legislator to be re-elected.
- 2019 general election
|Democratic||Danica Roem (inc.)||10,741||56.90 %|
|Republican||Kelly McGinn||8,137||43.10 %|
Roem is the member of the Communications, Technology, and Innovation Committee and serves as the Chair of the Communications Subcommittee. In the Counties, Cities, and Towns Committee, she serves as chair of the Charters Subcommittee and as a member of the Ad Hoc Subcommittee. Additionally, Roem serves as a member in both the Transportation Innovation and General Topics Subcommittee and Transportation Systems Subcommittee in the Transportation Committee.
Awards and recognition
Roem was a vocalist in the melodic death metal band Cab Ride Home. She first got interested in metal music in high school, and viewed metal music as her rebellion. Her band has performed 120 shows and has toured in the United Kingdom. During her campaign, her Republican opponent said that her "eccentric music videos" led her to be "out of touch with the district's suburban sensibilities" and not fit for the position.
In her free time, Roem practices yoga and spends time with her boyfriend and his 9-year-old daughter. Roem said that she does not discuss them much because she does not want them to face the same discrimination that she has faced. She lives in Manassas, Virginia. Her stepchild attends public school and she has been active in her stepchild's school board. Roem has also stated that she is considering writing a book.
In 2012, Roem started her transition and on December 3, 2013 she began hormone replacement therapy. She described her friends and co-workers as very supportive during her transition, stating that "no one cared. It was great. I could just keep doing my job". In 2015, she changed her name to Danica. Growing up she often felt like she had no one to talk to about the way she was feeling about her gender and it wasn't until she left for college that she started to explore her identity. While at college, though, she described her struggle with gender dysphoria as "suffocating" and would often not leave her room for days. She won her university's gender buster award, and received negative responses due to it in her school's student newspaper. Due to this, she did not feel comfortable coming out during that time.
During her campaign, Marshall tried to use her gender identity against her by not using her personal pronouns and refusing to debate her. Marshall also stated that she was not a real woman because she will never be able to get cervical or ovarian cancer. Roem responded by releasing a video stating that her "identity shouldn't be a big deal. This is just who I am." Throughout her campaign and now as an elected official, she has received many positive and inspiring messages from trans individuals from all around the country. While very comfortable with her gender identity, she realizes the severity of the current political climate, and has stated that she strives to never make anyone uncomfortable around her because of her gender identity. Roem has said that she is proud to be a trans woman, and that she "never ran away from her identity. Ever. [She] owned it immediately, and [she] celebrated it.
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- "Person of the Year: Transgender Americans". Advocate.com Editors. Advocate.com. July 20, 2017. Retrieved December 25, 2017.CS1 maint: others (link)
- Alter, Charlotte. "January 29th, 2018 - Vol. 191, No. 3 - U.S."
- "Danica will be one of the first trans women ever reelected in the United States". Victory Fund. 2019. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
- "About Danica". February 26, 2017.
- Kelly, Kim (June 1, 2017). "This Trans Metalhead Stepmom Is Making a Historic Run for Office in Virginia". Noisey. VICE. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
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- Natanson, Hannah (January 12, 2020). "Public schools in Virginia can censor student journalists any time, for any reason. A proposed law would change that". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
- Dozier, Libby (December 15, 2019). "Again this year, Roem files bill aims to protect journalists". Potomac Local. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
- "Virginia's Danica Roem, the First Openly Trans Woman Elected to a State Legislature, on Her Historic Political Win". InStyle.com. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
- "Inside Danica Roem's Historic Campaign as a Transgender Woman in Trump's America". Cosmopolitan. September 14, 2017. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
- Darby, Luke (January 8, 2018). "Danica Roem Talks Serving Under Trump, Thrash Metal, and How to Win Local Elections". GQ. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
- Editor-at-large, Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN. "How a transgender journalist beat Virginia's 'chief homophobe'". CNN. Retrieved April 2, 2018.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
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- "What Virginia's First Transgender Elected Official Wants to Accomplish". Time. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
- Shechet, Ellie. "How to Win An Election, According to Danica Roem". The Slot. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
- Olivo, Antonio (September 26, 2017). "'Just who I am': In new ad, Va. Democratic candidate discusses being transgender". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
- Vozzella, Laura (January 20, 2017). "In Virginia, Republican-led committee kills transgender 'bathroom bill'". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
- Gabbatt, Adam (November 11, 2017). "The Resistance Now: transgender candidate beats Virginia's 'chief homophobe'". The Guardian.
- "Virginia elects its first openly transgender delegate to state House". USA TODAY.
- Nirappil, Fenit (December 25, 2017). "Muted response to first openly gay woman in Va. legislature shows social shift". Washington Post.
- Lee, Kurtis (November 8, 2017). "In defeating 'chief homophobe,' transgender woman elected to Virginia legislature makes history". Los Angeles Times.
- Moomaw, Graham (January 4, 2017). "Virginia lawmaker proposes North Carolina-style bill to restrict transgender bathroom access". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
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- Palermo, Jill (June 8, 2017). "Transgender candidate vying to oust Marshall leads in small-dollar donations". Fauquier Times. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
- Allen, Samantha (June 17, 2017). "Danica Roem Is Making Trans Political History In Virginia". The Daily Beast. Retrieved June 18, 2017.
- Link, Taylor (June 14, 2017). "Virginia Democrats select Danica Roem, a transgender journalist, for state government". Salon. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
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- Nirappil, Fenit (July 27, 2017). "Trump's military ban prompts $50k donation to transgender Va. candidate". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
- Peters, Steven (August 4, 2017). "HRC Endorses Danica Roem | Human Rights Campaign". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
- Moreau, Julie (October 25, 2017). "Danica Roem's Historic Candidacy Puts Spotlight on Virginia Delegate Race". NBC News. Retrieved October 27, 2017.
- Lavers, Michael K. (October 10, 2017). "Danica Roem campaign reports anti-transgender robocalls". Washington Blade. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
- Olivo, Antonio (October 10, 2017). "Conservative groups take aim at Va. Democrat's transgender identity". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
- Siddiqui, Faiz (October 28, 2017). "Campaign flier paid for by Virginia GOP 'misgenders' Democratic candidate". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 3, 2017.
- "2017 June Democratic Primary: Official Results". Virginia Department of Elections. 2017. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
- "2017 November General: Unofficial Results". Virginia Department of Elections. 2017. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
- "Danica Roem defeats Republican challenger in Va". Los Angeles Blade: LGBT News, Rights, Politics, Entertainment. November 6, 2019. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
- Lavers, Michael K. (November 5, 2019). "Roem defeats Republican challenger". Washington Blade. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
- "Virginia Elections Results". Associated Press. November 5, 2019. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
- Chibbaro Jr., Lou (December 19, 2018). "Stein Club honors Danica Roem". Washington Blade. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
- Newman, Katelyn (November 8, 2017). "10 Things You Didn't Know About Danica Roem". U.S. News.
- ""You can't just say, 'I hate Trump, vote for me'": Danica Roem on her historic win". Vox. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Danica Roem.|
- on YouTube
- Dvorak, Petula (July 31, 2017). "A transgender candidate takes on Virginia's 'minister of private parts'". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 3, 2017.
- Matson, Erica (producer); Tourjée, Diana (host) (November 10, 2017). Inside Danica Roem's Historic Victory (Video). VICE: Broadly – via YouTube.