Danica Roem, a Democrat running to become Virginia’s first openly transgender state legislator, has put out a powerful new ad responding to crass and transphobic attacks from her conservative Republican opponent.
In the ad, titled “Inspire,” Roem is shown taking estrogen medications and applying makeup, while explaining in voiceover that:
I’m running for office because my identity shouldn’t be a big deal. This shouldn’t be newsworthy or political. This is just who I am.
For Roem, the ad is as much about providing inspiration for the next generation of LGBTQ youths as it is about herself.
“There are millions of transgender people in this country, and we all deserve representation in government” Roem says in her ad. “So when I stand up on the statehouse floor and the speakers says ‘the gentlewoman from Manassas,’ LGBTQ kids everywhere will know they can succeed because of who they—are not despite it.”
The ad is a response to comments by Roem’s Republican opponent, Robert G. Marshall, in which he insisted on misgendering Roem, and asked a reporter, “Why do you call Danica a female? Did Danica’s DNA change?”
According to the Washington Post, Roem has out-raised Marshall by a five to one margin, hauling in approximately $370,000 for her campaign.
Speaking with the Post on Wednesday, Marshall repeated his transphobic attacks on Roem, telling the paper:
You can change appearances, but your DNA fixes your bodily structures for your entire life. Danica will never get cervical cancer. Danica can’t get ovarian cancer because those body parts are not part of a male structure.
Marshall also made a point of misgendering Roem to the Post, saying: “He’s making up stories all over the place, including about his sexual identity.”
Marshall, a 25-year incumbent, is also behind of many of Virginia’s most conservative anti-LGBQ laws. In 2006, he authored the state’s constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage—which was later ruled unconstitutional by a federal court—and later introduced an anti-trans “bathroom bill” in the state legislature.