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State legislative races don’t usually draw a lot of national attention – but Virginia’s House District 13 race is: it pits a Republican incumbent known for unsuccessfully sponsoring a so-called “bathroom bill” against a transgender woman.

If she succeeds in unseating Delegate Bob Marshall, Democrat Danica Roem would be the country’s first openly transgender state lawmaker.

Roem’s background may set her apart as a political candidate, but her message to voters in this district, in the outer Washington, D.C. suburbs, is pretty standard for a local politician. She’s focusing on bread-and-butter “quality of life” issues, she says, like roads funding, schools, and water infrastructure.

Roem argues she’s uniquely informed about local issues and prepared to problem-solve because of her years working as a newspaper reporter in the region.

“I’ve dedicated my professional career to vetting information…and then reporting the truth as it is, not what other people hope it should be,” she said. “…And when I’m in office I can do the same thing.”

Virginia Statehouse Race Pits ‘Bathroom Bill’ Author Against Transgender Woman

Photos: Gabriella Demczuk for NPR