George Diepenbrock
KU News Service

Transgender candidate's election in Virginia is historic for the movement, professor says

Wed, 11/08/2017

LAWRENCE — The election Nov. 7 in Virginia of the first openly transgender person to a state legislature is historic for the transgender movement, said a University of Kansas scholar of LGBT political movements.

Danica Roem, a Democrat, on Tuesday defeated Virginia's most socially conservative state lawmaker, Robert Marshall, who had served 13 terms in the state legislature and earlier this year introduced a bill to regulate the use of bathrooms and locker rooms in public places, which died in committee.

Don Haider-Markel, professor and chair of the KU Department of Political Science, is available to discuss the development. He has studied the prospects of transgender candidates for several years, including serving as lead author of a journal article earlier this year that examined public opinion surrounding transgender candidates.

"This is definitely a historic first for an openly transgender candidate and a positive sign for decently funded, nontraditional candidates in 2018," Haider-Markel said. "The district Roem won should have gone to a Democrat in recent elections, but the party never turned out in off-year elections like this, which allowed a far-right Republican to continue a long incumbency."

To arrange an interview with Haider-Markel, contact George Diepenbrock at 785-864-8853 or

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