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NEWS: Landmark night for diversity in US politics

IMAGE: DANICA ROEM

Virginia’s most conservative lawmaker, Del. Robert G. Marshall, was yesterday ousted from office by Danica Roem, a Democrat who will be one of the nation’s first openly transgender officials

While the race focused on traffic and local issues, it also brought the topic of gender and identity to the fore.

The former journalist and member of a heavy metal band, who garnered over 55% of the vote, beat Marshall, a 13-term incumbent, who called himself Virginia’s “chief homophobe” and consistently referred to Roem using male pronouns.

Roem dedicated her win “to every person who’s ever been singled out, who’s ever been stigmatized, who’s ever been the misfit, who’s ever been the kid in the corner, who’s ever needed someone to stand up for them when they didn’t have a voice of their own”.

It was a landmark night for diversity in US politics. Andrea Jenkins also won election to the Minneapolis City Council, making her the first trans person elected to a major city’s governing body and one of the first out trans people of colour elected to any office in the United States.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune had endorsed her, stating that she was “highly qualified” and “well prepared for office”. Winning more than 70 per cent of the vote in her ward, Jenkins outlined her priorities as developing affordable housing, raising the minimum wage, addressing youth violence as a matter of public health and supporting minority artists.

Phillipe Cunningham, a trans man, and Jillia Pessenda, a lesbian, are also running for council seats in Minneapolis.

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