Cox spokesperson Parker Slaybaugh on Tuesday told the Washington Post that House members would be referred to as “delegate” as opposed to the “gentleman” or “gentlewoman” from jurisdiction in which they live.
The announcement comes two weeks after state Del.-elect Danica Roem (D-Prince William County) became the first openly transgender person elected to the General Assembly when she defeated state Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William County), a vocal opponent of LGBT rights.
Marshall — who has represented the 13th District since 1992 — repeatedly attacked Roem’s gender identity and used male pronouns to identify Roem. The Post noted Roem referred to herself as “the gentlewoman” from Prince William County in one of her campaign ads.
Slaybaugh told the Post that Cox “believes the ‘gentlelady’ and ‘gentleman’ terminology is outdated, and that referring to everyone as ‘delegate’ is more timely and appropriate.” Social conservatives have welcomed the proposed change, but state Del. David Toscano (D-Charlottesville) is among those who have criticized it.
“I know the intent behind this wasn’t charitable toward me and I’m grateful our hopefully future Speaker (David) Toscano has my back,” wrote Roem on her Twitter page. “That said, I hope the unintended consequence of this will be non-binary Virginians feeling emboldened to run for office and win.”
I know the intent behind this wasn't charitable toward me and I'm grateful our hopefully future Speaker @deltoscano has my back.
That said, I hope the unintended consequence of this will be non-binary Virginians feeling emboldened to run for office & win.https://t.co/HHjkkZJrXr
— Danica Roem (@pwcdanica) November 22, 2017
Roem will be sworn in on Jan. 10.