When Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart and state Sen. Frank Wagner (R-7) attacked transgender Virginians on April 1, they attacked their own constituents and they attacked children who call Virginia their home.
When former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie attacked transgender Virginians, he did so as the presumed front-runner of the Republican race whose discriminatory stance singles out thousands of Virginians who mean no harm and cause no harm to anyone.
All three Republican gubernatorial candidates are trying to mainstream the discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ worldview Del. Bob Marshall (R-13) champions and that his own party in the House of Delegates defeated six times during the last two years.
As a lifelong Manassas resident, a longtime community journalist and the first transgender person ever to qualify for a ballot in Virginia, I know we need to make Virginia a more inclusive commonwealth, not bring North Carolina-style policies to Virginia that are discriminatory toward our people. I’m running against Del. Marshall so we can build up our infrastructure, not tear down each other.
Transgender people are part of Virginia’s culture and social fabric just as much as anyone else. Our mere presence in a restroom does not harm anyone. There has never been a single reported case in United States history of a transgender person sexually assaulting someone in a restroom yet transgender people are often the victims of violent crimes, including sexual assault, in restrooms.
It’s dangerous to single out and stigmatize our residents with legislative priorities that perpetuate the false narrative that transgender people aren’t who we and our doctors say that we are.
It leads to dehumanization and violence against transgender people. I know: I’ve covered two brutal murders of young transgender women. We cannot allow this to become mainstream ideology in Virginia.
The Republican candidates for governor this weekend targeted children, they attacked my LGBTQ volunteers and they cast our commonwealth as an unwelcoming place to do business, live as your authentic sense of self without harming anyone else and raise a family. The so-called “pro-family” Republicans candidates are anything but that when they attack transgender parents like me and transgender children like my volunteers Robbie and Clara.
Earlier this campaign, I endorsed a transportation funding bill Sen. Wagner championed because I thought it was good public policy to set a floor on the tax for the wholesale price of gasoline, which our legislators omitted when they passed HB 2313 in 2013. But now Sen. Wagner is championing discriminatory social legislation that would single out and stigmatize his own constituents just like Del. Marshall does up here instead of staying focused on fixing our major quality of life issues.
Senator Wagner should know better than to wade into discriminatory policies because his own party killed 27 of Del. Marshall’s 30 bills this year, including all four of Del. Marshall’s anti-LGBTQ bills. That came one year after 40 of his 41 bills failed during the 2016 session, including both of his anti-LGBTQ bills, which died in a Republican-led committee.
If you want to be effective in the state legislature, you can’t legislate like Del. Marshall, whose legislation has failed 68 out of the last 71 times. Focus on jobs, roads and schools, not castigating your own constituents for following the guidelines for transitioning laid out in the WPATH Standards of Care and living as their authentic selves.
Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads share so many issues: when our state government has to spend money to keep Metro from furthering failing in Northern Virginia, there is less state funding for Hampton Roads Transit. When the state government has to mitigate the effects of climate change in Hampton Roads as Tangier Island sinks and Norfolk floods, there is less money to help the City of Manassas Park replace its 60-year-old water pipes.
Our regions are inextricably tied and yet Corey Stewart and Sen. Wagner are wasting their time and our tax dollars on their publicly-funded salaries every moment they champion discrimination instead of fixing transportation.
And let’s not forget this weekend when Ed Gillespie, who is on record as being a champion of anti-LGBTQ discrimination, attempts to pivot to being a centrist during the general election, effective June 14. He’s not focused on improving the quality of life for us either.
Lastly, I’ve known Corey Stewart for 11 years. I interviewed him dozens of times as a reporter for the Gainesville Times from the time he ran for Prince William County chairman during the 2006 special election through his last run in 2015.
Corey knows me personally, I’ve talked with him face-to-face multiple times since coming out, and how he acted then versus how he’s acting now are as if he’s not even the same person. He should know better than to discriminate against his own constituents and as a Prince William County resident, the intolerance he’s expressed toward Muslims, Latinos, African Americans and LGBTQ Virginians is shameful.
As a lifelong Virginian, I’ve called Prince William County home since I was born at Prince William Hospital in 1984. Corey moved here in 1999. I’ve been a part of Virginia’s culture 15 years longer than him and I have no interest lecturing people about who does and doesn’t belong in our culture. We are all Virginians. We are one commonwealth.
Danica Roem is a step-mom, lifelong Manassas resident and longtime local journalist who is the first transgender person to ever qualify for a ballot in Virginia. She is a canidate for the 13th District of the Virginia House of Delegates comprised of Prince Williams County and Manassas.
Learn more about her at Danica for Delegate