Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Erum Salam

Top Virginia Republican apologizes for misgendering Democratic state senator

close up of a woman
Danica Roem, pictured in 2017, has served in Virginia’s state senate since 2023. She was previously a member of the Virginia house of delegates. Photograph: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A top Republican in Virginia has apologized for misgendering a state senate Democrat in a row that caused legislative activity in the chamber to be temporarily suspended.

“We are all equal under the law. And so I apologize, I apologize, I apologize, and I would hope that everyone would understand there is no intent to offend but that we would also give each other the ability to forgive each other,” the lieutenant governor, Winsome Earle-Sears, said in an address to the state senate on Monday.

It all started when Danica Roem, 39, a state senator from Prince William county and the US’s first openly transgender person to serve in any state legislature, had asked Earle-Sears, 59, how many votes were needed to pass a bill on prescription drug prices with an emergency clause.

“Madame President, how many votes would it take to pass this bill with the emergency clause?” Roem asked Earle-Sears, who was presiding over a legislative session at the time.

Earle-Sears responded: “Yes, sir, that would be 32.”

Roem walked out of the room after being misgendered. Earle-Sears initially refused to apologize for the mistake but finally did so after two separate recesses.

The lieutenant governor maintained that she did not mean to upset anyone.

“I am here to do the job that the people of Virginia have called me to do, and that is to treat everyone with respect and dignity,” Earle-Sears said.

She added: “I myself have at times not been afforded that same respect and dignity.”

Earle-Sears herself also made history as the state’s first Black and first female lieutenant governor.

Roem has served in Virginia’s state senate since 2023. She was previously a member of the Virginia house of delegates, to which she was elected in 2017.

The bill about which Roem inquired, HB592, ultimately passed the Virginia senate.

Roem’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.