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Del. Marshall, Roem Face off Over Transgender Issues

| January 19, 2017 | 0 Comments | News
Del. Bob Marshall of the 13th District (left), Danica Roem, Democratic candidate for the 13th District (right.)

Del. Bob Marshall of the 13th District (left), Danica Roem, Democratic candidate for the 13th District (right.)

Del. Bob Marshall of the 13th District, Republican, and his Democratic opponent, Danica Roem, a transgender woman, face off over transgender politics, in response to Marshall’s HB1612 bathroom bill.

Bob Marshall’s bathroom bill HB1612, officially called the “Physical Privacy Act,” died in the House General Laws Subcommittee, Thursday afternoon. The bill addresses the use of bathrooms by transgender individuals in schools and government facilities.

Marshall is also the author of two other bills addressing transgender issues HB2011 and HB1667.

In certain ways, HB1612 is similar to the controversial one proposed in North Carolina. Both prohibit transgender individuals from using government the bathroom that matched their sex as defined by the physical gender as indicated in one’s birth certificate.

Additionally, both address how public schools ought to deal with transgender students using bathroom. The bill would alter the status quo in Virginia in regards to transgender students as it would take the decision making away from the school or locality and place it in the hands of the state.

Marshall’s bill would have required a principal to contact a student’s parent within 24 hours if the child wanted to be recognized as the opposite sex, be named by the opposite gender pronoun or use the opposite sex restroom or changing room.

However, Marshall notes that his bill does not go quite as far as the North Carolina bill as it does not restrict private businesses.

In a press release, issued by Del. Marshall, he indicated his belief that a transgender female is physically a male and vice-versa and therefore should use the bathroom matching the physical gender they were born with.

How would a loving dad react if he saw a grown man follow his nine-year-old daughter into a bathroom at a state park….Because identifying as transgender is how an individual perceives themselves, how can a biological female third party possibly distinguish between a transgender individual who means no harm and a male predator using the ladies room who does intend harm?

Marshall’s proposal followed a controversial discussion over transgender identity and bathroom use by citizens before the Prince William County School Board. Marshall said he wanted to address the “outpouring” of concerns by citizens.

Chairman At-large Ryan Sawyers proposed to add the LGBT students and employees to the school division’s non-discrimination policy, but the details of the policy were largely open-ended and open for discussion by the board.

Though Sawyers tried to eliminate the bathroom issue from consideration, it nevertheless became the key point for many people who opposed amending the non-discrimination policy.

Many community members were concerned that boys could enter girls bathrooms by claiming to be, girls. Marshall was spurred on by their support and momentum.

In a bit of irony, Marshall’s opponent for his seat representing the 13th district is a transgender woman. Danica Roem, long-time local journalist, and current member of the Democratic party, hopes to run against Marshall on the Democratic ticket, representing the 13th district.

Roem first responded to Marshall’s bill, saying that she does not really need to imagine what the effect of the bill would be since it would not pass.

“All of us in Prince William County know that this bill will not pass, why are we wasting our time?” she asked, adding “We have to be smarter by how we spend our money in Virginia”

Roem criticized Marshall for presenting the legislature with numerous conservative bills that do not make it through General Assembly while not addressing more bread and butter issues. She said his record for getting legislation passed is very slim with only one or two bills passed per year.

She also called it bad policy to “single out your own constituents.”

Roem said she would focus primarily on the issues the constituents of the 13th district most care about such as job growth and transportation.

However, she also feels strongly about LGBT issues and privacy issues for all citizens, wanting Virginia to be inclusive, while not wanting to make anyone feel unsafe in the process.

She said transgender people already feel uncomfortable in bathroom and locker room situations, and thus would be the last people ever wanting to expose themselves to others.

She worries about the impact Marshall’s philosophy has on LBGT, specifically young people, hearing negative things about themselves from someone in a position of authority.

She believes he misunderstands what it means to be transgender.

“It certainly did not sit well with me” that he described transgender people as “confused” about their gender, she said, adding “He has a lot to learn about the issue,.”

Roem said it is frightening to be the first transgender person running for a significant elected office in Virginia.

“It’s scary to do it. I’ve gotten vile hate mail [last week], personal attacks against my family,” she said. “That’ not respectful. That shouldn’t be what we do in Prince William.”

Roem said she looks forward to having civil debate with Del. Marshall on all issues affecting the 13th district.

© 2017, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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