On Thursday, the Virginia State Capitol was the site of a tense confrontation between two of the state’s top elected officials when Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears misgendered Senator Danica Roem. Roem, the nation’s first openly transgender state senator, immediately walked out of the chamber following the incident.

Earle-Sears initially refused to apologize but later addressed the chamber to express regret for her words, which she claimed were unintentional. The conflict threatens to further strain relations between Virginia’s Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

Senator Roem’s Achievements and Response to Misgendering

Senator Roem made history as the first openly transgender member of the Virginia House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate. After defeating a long-term incumbent in 2017 to win her first term in the House of Delegates, she won a seat in the Virginia Senate in 2023.

Source: Alyssa Schukar

During her initial campaign, she frequently faced misgendering and disrespect from her opponent, to which she responded in an advertisement stating, “There are millions of transgender people in the country, and we all deserve representation in government.”

Trans Senator Danica Roem Storms Out After “Sir” Comment

Danica Roem, Virginia’s first openly transgender state senator, walked out of the chamber after Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears misgendered her.

Source: Twitter/@greg_price11

During a debate on House Bill 592, related to prescription drug price transparency, Senator Roem rose to ask Lt. Gov. Earle-Sears how many votes would be required for the bill to pass with an emergency clause. In response, Lt. Gov. Earle-Sears said, “That would be four-fifths, Senator. Yes, sir, that would be 32.”

The Lieutenant Governor Initially Refuses to Apologize

Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears refused to initially apologize after referring to Senator Danica Roem as “sir” during a debate in the Virginia Senate chamber. When Senator Roem rose to ask Earle-Sears a question about the number of votes required to pass a bill with an emergency clause, Earle-Sears responded, “Yes sir, that would be 32.”

Source: Twitter/X

Upon hearing the misgendering remark, Senator Scott Surovell called for a recess, which Earle-Sears granted. Senator Roem then left the chamber for the remainder of the day. She has not released a public statement regarding the incident.

Later, Apologizes: “I’m Not Here to Upset Anyone.

After recess, Lieutenant Governor Earle-Sears apologized to the chamber for her incorrect reference to Senator Roem’s gender.

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In her apology, Lieutenant Governor Earle-Sears said, “It is never my intention to offend anyone. I hope that others would consider that they would also try not to offend me. We are all equal under the law.” Addressing both sides of the chamber separately, she reiterated, “I apologize, I apologize, I apologize.”

House Bill 592

The passage of House Bill 592 with bipartisan support indicates the possibility of cooperation despite disagreement or offense. However, the events surrounding the bill’s passage serve as a reminder of the importance of mutual understanding and respect between all individuals, regardless of beliefs or identities.

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By acknowledging her mistake and offering a sincere apology, Lieutenant Governor Earle-Sears has taken an important first step in making amends with Senator Roem and ensuring inclusive governance. With open communication and empathy, people of all backgrounds can work together to make progress on issues that affect citizens across Virginia.

Roem Is The First Trans State Legislator in Virginia

Danica Roem made history in 2023 as the first openly transgender member of the Virginia State Legislature. Roem, a Democrat, won election to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017, defeating a 13-term incumbent and social conservative Bob Marshall.


Roem focused on local issues like improving traffic congestion and infrastructure in her campaign. During her time in the House of Delegates, Roem advocated for progressive causes like expanding Medicaid and increasing teacher pay.

Advocacy for LGBTQ Rights

In addition to working on issues affecting all Virginians, Roem has advocated for LGBTQ rights and inclusion during her time in the state legislature. The bill was signed into law, marking an important step toward equality for LGBTQ Virginians.

Source: Steve Helber

As the first openly trans woman in the Virginia legislature, Roem’s presence helps increase visibility and representation for the trans community. Her election victories show that voters will support candidates based on their qualifications and policy positions, not their gender identity.

Previously Defeated Anti-Trans Incumbent in 2017

In 2017, Senator Danica Roem defeated incumbent Bob Marshall, a Republican delegate who had held the seat since 1992. Marshall was vocal in his opposition to LGBTQ rights and refused to debate Roem or refer to her with female pronouns during the campaign.


Roem focused her campaign on issues like transportation infrastructure, which resonated with voters. Her win made her the first openly transgender person elected to the Virginia General Assembly.

A Demonstration of Change After Victory

Roem’s landmark victory demonstrated that voters care more about policy issues than a candidate’s gender identity. By defeating Marshall, Roem also helped shift the Virginia legislature in a more progressive direction on LGBTQ rights.

Source: Ned Oliver

Roem has sponsored legislation to prohibit discrimination in public employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity. She has also sponsored bills to improve access to healthcare for transgender people.

Roem’s Pragmatic Approach Has Seen Her Deliver To Her People

In the four years since her election, Roem has focused on constituent services and addressing policy issues like transportation, education, healthcare, and the economy. She has taken a pragmatic approach in the Senate and worked across the aisle with Republicans on legislation.

Source: Human Rights Watch

Her victories demonstrate that voters will support pro-LGBTQ candidates who champion inclusive values and practical solutions to community issues. Roem’s election as the first openly transgender state legislator is historic.

Hit Back at Misgendering During Historic Campaign

Roem’s experience with misgendering during her first campaign highlighted the discrimination still faced by many in the transgender community. However, her dignified and policy-focused response, as well as her subsequent work advancing LGBTQ rights, serves as an inspiration.

Source: Meic Cymru

Through her perseverance in the face of prejudice, Roem has expanded opportunities for those who identify as transgender to participate fully in civic life. Her historic victory and advocacy are a rebuke against intolerance and affirming diversity and human rights.

There Are Millions of Trans People Deserving Representation

There are millions of transgender individuals in the United States who deserve representation in government. Senator Danica Roem, Virginia’s first openly transgender elected official, emphasized this point during her 2017 campaign.

Source: American Nurse

Despite facing discrimination from her opponent, Roem persevered and won her election, stating in an advertisement, “This is just who I am…There are millions of transgender people in the country, and we all deserve representation in government.”

Discrimination of Transgender Individual Continues To Be Pervasive

Representation of marginalized groups in government is critical for passing legislation that addresses their unique challenges and upholds their rights. As a transgender woman in a position of political power, Senator Roem gives a voice to issues that directly impact the transgender community.

Source: National Center for Transgender Equality

However, discriminatory treatment of transgender individuals remains pervasive in society and politics. Senator Roem herself faced misgendering during a February 2022 legislative session when the Lieutenant Governor referred to her as “sir” despite knowing Senator Roem was a transgender woman.

Roem Remains To Be A Trailblazer

While this incident highlights the continued challenges faced by transgender elected officials, Senator Roem’s dignified response and Lieutenant Governor Earle-Sears’ apology demonstrate progress. As the first openly transgender state senator, Roem is a trailblazer.

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Though misgendering remains hurtful, this moment brought awareness to pronoun usage and respect. Leaders like Roem and Earle-Sears, who acknowledge mistakes and reaffirm shared humanity, give hope for greater inclusion.