A newly elected transgender politician in Virginia is already focusing on legislation that is of relevance to his gender identity.
Del.-elect Danica Roem, who identifies as a woman, was among the many Democrats to win seats in Virginia’s House of Delegate elections last week. On Friday, Roem announced he intends to introduce a bill that would force insurance companies to cover the costs of hormone medication and surgery.
“LGBTQ health care is health care,” Roem, set to be the first transgender lawmaker in Virginia’s legislature, stated Friday in a conference call with reporters.
“It is not cosmetic. It is not elective. We are following our doctors’ orders,” Roem added.
Roem’s campaign was mostly centered around local issues affecting the 13th House District in Virginia during the election. For example, Roem promised to work to relieve congestion on Route 28.
However, the soon-to-be delegate has pivoted to more hot-button issues since winning the election.
Roem pledged to work with his Democrat colleagues in the Virginia House of Delegates — who are currently one member away from toppling the GOP majority — to pass legislation requiring insurance companies in the state to cover the costs of gender transitioning.
Roem added that any legislative effort on insurance coverage is a part of the “quality of life” platform he campaigned when running against longtime Republican Del. Robert Marshall, according to The Washington Post.
For Roem, mandating insurance coverage for gender transition therapy is a personal issue.
Previously a man, Roem underwent gender transition in 2013.
Roem’s insurance provider had said at the time that it would not cover the costs of the hormone medication prescribed by his doctor, forcing Roem to pay the full cost out of pocket.
“I didn’t even get to have a conversation with them,” Roem lamented about the ordeal.
Roem hopes to change Virginia’s health care regulations so other transgenders won’t have to go through the same experience.
An anti-discrimination clause that is a part of Obamacare already makes most insurance plans cover these types of expenses.
However, LGBT advocates claim Republicans and the Trump White House are threatening to drop this rule.
According to the Movement Advancement Project, a research group dedicated to the advancement of LGBT people, Virginia is one of 13 states that “explicitly excludes transition-related healthcare in their state employee health benefits.”
The path for such legislation in Old Dominion will likely hit some roadblocks.
In a statement, House Majority Leader M. Kirkland Cox hammered Roem for “pivoting to a divisive social agenda.”
“The House is going to focus on improving our economy, schools and roads,” Cox spokesman Parker Slaybaugh said.