It was a big night for Democrats on Tuesday, with wins in key races in what party officials declare is a repudiation of President Trump’s first year in office. It was also a historic night for transgender and LGBT candidates around the country.
In Virginia, Danica Roem became the first openly transgender person to be elected to the state legislature. Roem, a 33-year-old Democrat, former journalist and current member of a thrash metal band, defeated 73-year-old Bob Marshall, a 26-year incumbent, social conservative and author of a proposed “bathroom bill” prohibiting trans people from using the bathroom of their choice. Marshall, who once referred to himself as Virginia’s “chief homophobe,” had refused to publicly debate Roem during the campaign.
Roem is believed to be just the second openly transgender legislator to be elected in the country. In 2012, Stacie Laughton was elected to the New Hampshire House — the first openly transgender person elected to a state legislature in the United States. (Althea Garrison was elected to the Massachusetts House as a Republican in 1992, but it wasn’t until after the election that her birth as a male was reported. She served one term.)
Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, whose Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund raised more than $200,000 for Roem’s candidacy, said in a statement that “2017 will be remembered as the year of the trans candidate — and Danica’s heroic run for office the centerpiece of that national movement.”
“It’s historic,” Democratic House Caucus Chair Charniele Herring told the Associated Press. “It sends a message to politicians everywhere that the politics of bigotry is over.”
In Pennsylvania, Tyler Titus became the first openly transgender person elected to office in the state. The 33-year-old father of two grabbed one of four open seats on the Erie School Board on Tuesday.
“Tyler Titus shattered a lavender ceiling in Pennsylvania today, and his victory will resonate well beyond state boundaries,” the Victory Fund said in a statement. “Trans people remain severely underrepresented in our politics and government, and now more than ever we need trans voices like Tyler’s in the halls of power.”
In Minnesota, Andrea Jenkins became the first transgender person of color to be elected to any office in the United States. Jenkins got 73 percent of the vote, walloping her three opponents to be elected to the Minneapolis City Council.
Another trans candidate, Phillipe Cunningham, also ran for a seat on Minneapolis’s City Council, but the results of that race have yet to be determined.
In California, Lisa Middleton became the first transgender person elected to a nonjudicial office in the state, winning a seat on the Palm Springs City Council.
“It’s all because of all of you that we are here tonight,” Middleton told supporters after her win, calling it a “historic victory for our city and for our state.”
In Washington state, Jenny Durkan was elected to become Seattle’s first openly lesbian mayor — and the Emerald City’s first female mayor since the 1920s. Durkan, a former federal prosecutor, defeated fellow female Democrat Cary Moon in the nonpartisan mayoral race. Both women were vying for the seat vacated by former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, a gay man who resigned in September after being accused by five men of sexual abuse. Murray has denied the charges.
“Tonight was about fighting back,” Moodie-Mills said. “But it is also an undeniably historic night for the LGBTQ movement and for trans equality, having moved the needle on what is possible for a trans leader who aspires to run for office and make positive change.”
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