A new campaign mailer paid for by the Republican Party of Virginia repeatedly refers to Danica Roem, a transgender woman seeking election to the state House of Delegates, as a man and accuses her of making her identity part of the race.
The fliers, authorized by Roem’s opponent for the 13th District seat, Del. Robert Marshall, R-Manassas, include a section titled “Danica Roem In His Own Words” and a header reading “Danica Roem, born male, has made a campaign issue out of transitioning to female.”
Marshall has repeatedly used male pronouns to refer to Roem, who is running to be the first openly transgender politician elected in Virginia.
Roem, who could not immediately be reached by phone, confirmed in an email that she had received the mailers at her home on Friday.
“Delegate Marshall’s hypocrisy truly knows no bounds: saying that I’ve made my gender an issue while he spends two mailers attacking me for being trans and standing up for LGBTQ kids and misgenders me while he’s at it,” she wrote. “This is what happens when he can’t defeat me on the core quality-of-life issues facing the people of the 13th District … ”
In an emailed statement Saturday night, Marshall said the attack was “not about Roem being transgender.”
But the statement doubled down on the language used in mailers, referring to Roem using a male pronoun and accusing her of “wanting transgenderism taught to kindergartners,” an apparent reference to a recent radio interview Roem conducted.
GLAAD, a leading LGBT advocacy organization, says “transgenderism” is “a term used by anti-transgender activists to dehumanize transgender people and reduce who they are to ‘a condition.’”
In a statement, GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis called the mailer “inhumane and flat out un-American.”
“Attacking Danica’s identity flies in the face of the state of Virginia, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and all of the nation’s leading medical authorities, who know that transgender women are who they say they are, plus such denigrating language puts many transgender people, especially those in Virginia, directly in harm’s way,” Ellis said.
The Republican Party of Virginia said it does not comment on the quantity, scope or cost of its mailers.
In a statement, the party defended the fliers, which called attention to comments made in a radio interview last month, in which Roem said she would support teaching kindergartners about gender identity provided the lessons were age-appropriate. That position is not included as part of Roem’s campaign platform or her campaign appearances.
“The mailers absolutely do not attack Danica’s gender identity,” said John Findlay, executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia. “The mailers make an issue of Danica’s openness to teaching transgenderism in kindergarten as Danica stated in a radio interview.”
Asked if the fliers would be corrected to reflect Roem’s gender, given the party’s stance that they were not an attack on her identity, a spokesman for the party did not respond.
The mailers marked the second time in recent days that Marshall has highlighted Roem’s gender identity. In a campaign ad released last week, Marshall criticizes Roem for “promoting transgender education in public school for children as young as 5 years old,” another reference to the radio interview. The ad also accuses Roem of “lewd” and “shocking” behavior based on what Roem said was five-year-old footage from her heavy metal band, before her physical gender transition. The footage is suggestive of people engaging in oral sex in a bathroom stall. The ad says Roem has “a record of bad judgment.”
Roem called it “manufactured outrage.”
Marshall, who has declined to debate Roem, has pushed unsuccessfully for a state “bathroom bill” that would dictate which restrooms transgender people would use in public buildings.
In a June interview with the Post, Marshall outlined his philosophy on campaign literature.
“When I do campaign fliers, I will put a contrast between myself and my opponent,” he said. “I don’t get personal or whatever. So, we’ll just find out.”
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