These recent midterms have made history in more ways than one, especially for LGBTQ representation as James Roesener (D) of New Hampshire becomes the first openly transgender man in US history to be elected to state legislature.
Roesener, 26, lives in Concord with his wife, whom he met in high school, as well as his cat, Sparta. As state representative-elect, he will represent Merrimack House District 22, which covers Ward 8 in his home city.
Roesener’s Republican opponent was David Soucy, a retired former US Army specialist and self-described “pro-life Catholic.” According to a candidate survey from the New Hampshire nonprofit Citizens Count, Soucy indicated that he is “for” a “ban on discussing sexual orientation, gender identity in K-3,” a “ban on teaching certain concepts related to race,” and a policy to “ban abortion during 1st trimester.”
On the afternoon November 9th with 79 percent of precincts reporting, Roesener was declared the winner with 55 percent of the vote versus Soucy’s 45 percent, according to the New York Times and data from the Associated Press.
Roesener’s campaign website describes him as “an advocate for the underdog,” and his platform includes expanding nondiscrimination laws in health care, protecting teachers’ ability to address racism, gender identity, and sexual orientation, raising the state minimum wage to $15/hour or more, and legalizing marijuana.
“I deeply care about creating a better world for us all. I have set my standards high and will continue to fight for change until enduring solutions can be reached,” Roesener’s website reads. The webpage also says, “We need a leadership that is invested in defending the freedom of all people by taking away barriers to shelter, education, healthcare, voting, and other basic necessities for a quality life.”
One of Roesener’s policy positions listed on his website includes repealing the current abortion laws in New Hampshire, which forbids abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy and requires notifying the parent of a minor patient in addition to an ultrasound before the procedure.
Moreover, Roesener has stressed the importance of including transgender men and trans masculine people in the discussion of abortion access and reproductive health care. Following the US Supreme’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, Roesener talked to New Hampshire Public Radio about the subject at a July rally. “I have a uterus, and I am affected by these decisions, as well,” he said in the interview.
Also during the interview, Roesener noted that efforts to restrict abortion access and gender-affirming medical care affect “more than just the people who seek those particular forms of care,” stating, “It criminalizes and reduces access to everyone, for those who utilize contraception, those who need hormone replacement therapy — that is not just transgender people — and those whose well-being relies on medications deemed abortifacients.”
According to the LGBTQ Victory Institute, there were only eight openly trans people serving in state legislatures prior to the midterm elections, none of them transgender men. Nationwide, there were six openly trans men serving in elected office. Five years prior to Roesener’s victory, Danica Roem became the first openly transgender person to be elected to state legislature in Virginia’s House of Delegates.
Former Houston mayor Annise Parker, who now serves as the president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund (a political action committee, or PAC, dedicated to supporting queer canidates running for office), praised Roesener for “shattering a lavender ceiling and proving that America is ready for trans men leaders in our state legislatures.”
“At a time of intensifying transphobia at all levels of government and society, he showed incredible courage throughout his historic campaign,” Parker said in a statement. “Trans people — and trans men in particular — remain severely underrepresented in government at every level, but we are confident his win will inspire many more trans people to run for office.”