On Tuesday, Virginia elected its first transgender state legislator, the Democratic candidate Danica Roem, upsetting longtime Republican, and homophobe-in-chief Robert Marshall’s 26-year reign.
During his tenure on the state legislature, Marshall did, and tried to do, some pretty abhorrent things, like write an anti-gay marriage amendment (rejected by a federal judge), sponsor Virginia’s transgender bathroom bill, and sponsor a ban on gay people serving in the Virginia National Guard. Marshall continued to run on an anti-LGBTQ platform this year, and lost. His campaign website reads, “Success of the GLBT agenda in recent years has largely depended on identifying the homosexual movement as a modern version of the Civil Right struggle. This is, of course, nonsense.”
Roem, a former journalist, landed on local traffic congestion as her central campaign issue, clearly a popular issue, as well as improving schools, raising the state’s minimum wage, and supporting civil rights.
Althea Garrison, a black woman and the first trans woman elected to a state legislature, won her Massachusetts seat in 1992. Garrison was not out as trans during the election, but was later outed against her wishes by The Boston Herald, a revelation which, aside from being invasive and cruel, negatively impacted her career.
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And—more encouraging and historic news tonight!—shortly after Roem’s race was called, Democrat Andrea Jenkins officially won her city council race in Minneapolis, Minnesota, making her the “first out trans woman of color elected to public office in America,” according to the press secretary of the Human Rights Campaign.
Jenkins, a former policy aide to the outgoing Council Vice President Elizabeth Glidden, ran on a platform that includes supporting artists of color, raising the minimum wage, addressing youth violence as a public health concern, and developing affordable housing. She has also worked as a poet, an author, and a performance artist.
Update: This post has been updated to include information about the Althea Garrison.