Virginia's new transgender legislator says her win is about more than gender

Last Updated Nov 8, 2017 7:44 PM EST

Danica Roem is the first transgender woman in the 21st Century to be elected to a state legislature, defeating a longtime Virginia state delegate who proposed a bill to prevent transgender individuals from choosing their bathrooms.

But Roem told CBSN Wednesday her historic win is about a lot more than gender. 

Roem, who defeated Delegate Bob Marshall to take Virginia's 13th District seat on Tuesday night, said it was her campaign's focus on "core quality of life" issues like transportation, health care and education that carried the night. Roem, who grew up in the congested Northern Virginia region where she won, said her gender is the focus of the news, but it isn't why she's qualified to help govern. 

"My gender is obviously the news story here, but it wasn't my chief qualification for office," Roem told CBSN on Wednesday, mentioning her nine years reporting on local issues for the Gainesville Times. 

"That's what qualified me for office," she said of her reporting experience. 

Roem said she's concerned about how the Trump administration treats the First Amendment and freedom of the press.

"This is an administration that has declared that reporters are the enemies of the state," Roem said. "That's so wildly unacceptable. By electing a reporter both in the 13th District as well as the 12th District in Chris Hurst, people have made clear that they value what reporters bring to the table," Roehm said.

I'll always be a reporter before I'm a politician," Roehm added. 

Asked how she reacts to replacing one of the state's most socially conservative lawmakers who hasn't always acted favorably towards the LGBT community, Roem declined to criticize Marshall.

"Look, the first thing is come January, Delegate Marshall is going to be one of my constituents, and I don't attack my constituents," Roem said, adding it's important to "be inclusive."

"And that's what I plan to do," she added. 

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.