Virginia elected the nation’s first openly transgender state legislator on Tuesday night when Democrat Danica Roem defeated longtime Republican incumbent Bob Marshall.
Here are five things to know about the history-making Roem, who will serve in the Virginia House of Delegates.
1. Roem’s gender identity was not the focus of her campaign
Roem, 33, a local journalist who began her physical transition four years ago, openly discussed her gender identity throughout the election but did not make it the cornerstone of her campaign, choosing instead to focus on local issues like jobs, education and northern Virginia’s traffic congestion.
In October, Roem told NBC News that opponent Marshall had been “misgendering me for months,” meaning he had referred to her using male pronouns.
“I understand the national implications of this race,” Roem said ahead of the election. “I understand who it is I am running against. I understand what being the first elected, out, transgender delegate would mean.”
She added that her potential win would show “people across the country … that they can succeed because of who they are, not despite it.”
2. She’s in a metal band
Roem is the co-founder and leader singer of the thrash metal band Cab Ride Home. Their most recent album, Crash the Gate, was released in April. Roem told Noisey in an interview earlier this year, “Just because I sing in a heavy metal band while spinning my head in circles and getting paid to do it, why can’t I run for government?”
3. She was an award-winning journalist
Roem worked as a reporter and editor for Virginia’s Gainesville Times and Prince William Times for nine years, covering education policy and local politics. She won awards from the Virginia Press Association seven times. Roem says she became interested in journalism due to her grandfather’s love of his daily newspaper, The Washington Post reported.
4. She’s a stepmom to a 9-year-old girl
Roem is protective of her private life, including her relationship with her boyfriend of two years and his 9-year-old daughter, whom she considers her stepchild. “I don’t want to expose my family to this s–t,” she told Cosmopolitan in September.
5. Her decision to run had nothing to do with Donald Trump — but she’s not afraid of speaking out against him
Roem told Cosmopolitan that she did not run to directly oppose President Trump, but she’s still using her voice to resist his presidency. After Trump announced a ban on transgender people serving in the military, Roem issued a statement attacking the move as “the height of hypocrisy.”
“Transgender military members . . . have done more to serve and protect their country than Donald Trump ever will,” she said.