Americans exercised their democratic right this past Election Day by voting in numerous local and national elections. Many were pleasantly surprised by the results, specifically regarding a number of transgender politicians who won their races. The unprecedented representation of transgender people in office shows that our nation’s movement toward greater equality.
Danica Roem is an especially notable politician who made history on Nov. 7. Roem is a Democrat who will be the United States’ first openly transgender state representative. This accomplishment is even more remarkable due to the historically conservative ideals of Roem’s home state, Virginia. In fact, the representative’s electoral victory makes her Virginia’s first out transgender public official, according to Human Rights Campaign.
Roem, however, was not the only transgender official to help make history in this election. Andrea Jenkins and Phillipe Cunningham of Minneapolis, Lisa Middleton from Florida, Stephe Koontz from Georgia, Raven Matherne from Connecticut, Tyler Titus of Pennsylvania and Gerri Cannon of New Hampshire also won their elections, according to Think Progress.
All of the new transgender officials’ wins are deserving of praise. Their victories signify a beacon of hope for uniform rights, a value that has been routinely jeopardized under President Donald Trump’s administration. Trump and his cabinet have continually demonstrated their lack of respect for marginalized groups, especially the LGBTQ+ community, which is disheartening.
In July, Trump announced his proposal to ban transgender soldiers in the U.S. military. In a series of tweets, Trump wrote that our country could not afford the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” of transgender service members,” thereby stating “the United States Government will not accept or allow them to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” as reported by The New York Times. This ban is a clear example of modern transphobia, insisting transgender individuals are a burden to our military.
The ban was set to go into effect in March 2018, however, on Oct. 30 the unjust policy was blocked in court. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly found the ban to be likely unconstitutional, as reported by The New York Times. The federal judge ruled it was based on “disapproval of transgender people generally.” The overturn of Trump’s ban suggests a step in the right direction to foster our country’s growth when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights.
Similarly, Roem’s victory in the election is further proof of increasing acceptance. She won over Robert G. Marshall, who served 13 terms as a Virginia state representative. Marshall is considered “Virginia’s most socially conservative state lawmaker,” according to The Washington Post. Akin to this, “in addition to calling Marshall ‘a mirror’ of Trump, Roem accused him of being more concerned with advancing his conservative causes than dealing with local problems,” as reported by The Washington Post.
Not only did Marshall call himself the state’s “chief homophobe,” but also earlier this year he introduced a bill that would regulate people’s choice to use the bathroom coinciding with the gender with which they identify. Additionally, during the campaign process, Marshall refused to use female pronouns while addressing and referring to Roem. These actions expressed Marshall’s blatant transphobia, exemplifying the significance and need for Roem’s victory.
Many voted for Marshall, however, because they were disgruntled with Roem’s transphobic identity. “She’s never had menstrual cramps, and she’s never had a baby, and she never will be able to,” said Carol Fox, a community activist, according to The Washington Post. “She can take all the estrogen she wants, but she’ll never be a woman.”
Bigoted beliefs such as these are toxic to the U.S.’s progression toward justice. As a diverse nation, it is imperative that we ensure all identities are represented in American politics.
The election of Roem, among other transgender politicians, indicates the advancements in our nation has made toward gender equality. Individuals who identify as transgender are just as deserving to hold a seat in office as their cis-gender counterparts.