Transgender candidate faces off against longtime conservative

Candidate trying to become first transgender delegate in Va.

MANASSAS, VA. (WUSA9) - Even in a hyper-political area like the DMV, there's often not a lot of interest around a local race for a Virginia delegate. But this year, all eyes are on the 13th District, where a longtime incumbent, most well-known for his proposed bathroom bill, is facing off against a transgender woman.

Democrat Danica Roem joined WUSA9 for an interview in Manassas to talk about why she decided to run. Meanwhile, Republican Robert Marshall didn't want to talk on camera, but did answer questions for WUSA9 through email. 

Danica Roem:

"I don't want to just be known as the transgender candidate," said Roem, as she joined WUSA9 for an interview.

Roem is a longtime journalist in the area, and said many issues define her campaign, in particular road improvements along Route 28. Nonetheless she said that fighting LGBT discrimination is also very important to her. 

At one point in the interview, Roem pulled out two medical containers, full of pills, and grabbed two small capsules. She explained that these are the pills she's been taking, during her transition. 

"I wouldn't be taking this if my doctor and I both thought that there was some hyper-inflated risk," she said. "Which there is not." 

She then took two of the pills, and swallowed it with a sip of water. 

"There," she laughed.

"That's the big secret right there. That is the transition. And that is what members of the military do every single day when they are on hormone replacement therapy. They take their pills, and they get on with their jobs."

While Roem has tried to make her campaign locally-based, there's no denying national attention on transgender issues have impacted the race. 

After President Donald Trump tweeted out a policy change on transgender service in the military, the donations flowed in. In just six days, Roem raised more than $70,000, including one $50,000 donation from an LGBT advocate in Milwaukee. 

"A lot of people are extremely upset about this," she said about the Tweet.

"And they decided that 'hey, when President Donald Trump and Delegate Marshall decide to discriminate against their own constituents then it's our job to stand up to that. And fight back against discrimination and say that is never ok."

Del. Robert Marshall:

Marshall is not new to politics, serving District 13 for more than a quarter-century. He's been re-elected 13 times, and has defined himself as a voice for social conservative issues. He's well-known for proposing a "bathroom bill," as well as a ban on gay people from serving in the state's National Guard. Both of those policies failed in the end in Richmond. 

Marshall said he was supportive of the president's proposed policy change, regarding transgender service in the military. 

"I think it was a prudent decision, he said.

"The money that would have been spent on costly and risky elective surgeries and decades of synthetic hormones that can cause cancer... will be much better spent on treating our combat wounded servicemen and our veterans."

Marshall also targeted the recent increase of funding coming into Roem's campaign. He pointed out that the majority of this money was not coming from local Virginians. 

"My opponent is on track to take at least 85 to 90 percent out of state money," he said.

"One-hundred and fifteen-thousand dollars, so far from one multi-millionaire radical sexual ideologue to buy the election for Danica to impose laws penalizing those who adhere to the 'Laws of Nature' and 'Nature's God.'"

When asked why he believes he was the better candidate, Marshall's response was short and direct. 

"The citizens of my district are the ones best qualified to make this decision," he said.

"So far they have made the decision thirteen times, they prefer me to represent them in the VA General Assembly."

The election is set for November 7, exactly 90 days away. 

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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