When I saw the historic wins of Danica Roem and Andrea Jenkins permeate through social media on Tuesday night, I felt a surge of joy. Their victories signaled the shift of trans people from political fodder to political leaders. For so long, the plight of trans people has hinged on the conscience of the cisgender majority, but now we are taking matters into our own hands and asserting the political power that we’ve always possessed.
Roem and Jenkins ran as openly transgender candidates, and served a slap in the face to the Trump Administration (and a complicit and ineffective political establishment) after a year of direct attacks on our community. From targeting trans students’ dignity and safety by rescinding the guidance on their bathroom use, to a disgusting attempt at banning trans service members from the U.S. military, Trump has stoked the flames on a hostile environment for transgender citizens. The results of Tuesday’s elections offered a respite, when “resistance” moved from a buzzword to an action item.
Roem’s legendary defeat of “Chief Homophobe” Robert G. Marshal for the 13th District seat on Virginia House of Delegates Roem showcased that we are in a political climate where authenticity and a desire for collective liberation is beginning to outpace transphobia. In January 2017, Marshal notably proposed the Physical Privacy Act, a bill which would have restricted use of bathrooms and changing facilities for transgender people. Roem’s audacious run for his seat resulted in cutting off bigotry at the source.