Virginia has elected Danica Roem, who is now the first openly transgender state senator in the South.
Roem, a journalist and state delegate, defeated Republican Bill Woolf, a former Fairfax County police detective, on Tuesday.
Woolf had been endorsed by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and had vowed that he would ban biological males from competing against girls in school sports.
“You attack trans kids in my district at your own political peril,” Roem said in an interview with The Hill before the election.
Roem was endorsed by Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Washington Post.
“Danica faced an unprecedented deluge of anti-trans hate on the campaign trail, but she was not fazed nor distracted,” Victory Institute’s president and CEO, Annise Parker, told the New York Daily News in a statement.
“She made LGBTQ+ history tonight because she put constituents first, speaking to the real issues that impact children and their families in Virginia, from fixing roads to ensuring kids and families have food on the table,” Parker continued.
The Victory Institute works to promote LGBTQ candidates and told the paper “more than 200 out-and-proud LGBQ candidates won their elections in 2023 — including at least 148 on Tuesday — breaking a record for an odd-numbered election year.”
The “rainbow wave,” as the paper referred to it, is notable due to the ongoing culture war over transgender issues. Republicans nationwide have been fighting to block sex changes for minors, biological boys from using girls’ restrooms and locker rooms in schools, and to keep explicit books, many of which have LGBTQ themes, out of the hands of children.
“Voters for LGBTQ equality and everyone’s fundamental freedoms came out in force in the 2023 election, reflecting the reality that a supermajority of Americans support LGBTQ people and our right not to be discriminated against,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, told The Daily News.
Virginia Democrats spent millions this election cycle in an effort to keep control of the state senate and Roem’s election will increase those chances.
Though Roem is white, some liberal activists have also made the election about race.
“This is historic for Danica, and this is historic for Virginia,” Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson told The Hill. “But I think for every queer person, for every trans person, for every person of color, for anyone that’s been at the margins, it is historic for all of the gains that we’re seeing happen.”