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Virginia lieutenant governor apologizes after misgendering state senator

Virginia Lieutenant Gov. Winsome Sears (R) apologized Monday for misgendering state Sen. Danica Roem (D).

“I apologize, I apologize, I apologize,” Sears said during a session of the Virginia Senate. “And I would hope, I would hope, that everyone would understand there is no intent to offend, but that we will also give each other the ability to forgive each other.”

Sears’s apology followed comments she made while presiding over a Senate session in which she referred to Roem, who is a transgender woman, as “sir” when answering questions from Roem on how many votes would be needed to pass a bill.

“And what would be the exact number for that, Madam President?” Roem asked.

“Yes, sir, that would be 32,” Sears responds.

Montana Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D), another transgender state legislator, called Sears’s misgendering of Roem “[d]eliberately cruel & unacceptable” in response to a video showing the comments.

“If @WinsomeSears was unwilling to gender @pwcdanica correctly, she could have simply used her title: Senator Roem,” Zephyr said Monday in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

“The only reason you intentionally misgender a sitting legislator is because you want to show your cruelty to the world,” Zephyr continued.

Roem is Virginia’s first openly transgender state senator and the first out transgender person elected in state Senate in the South. She defeated a former Fairfax County police detective, Bill Woolf, who pledged to prevent transgender athletes from competing on school sports teams and was endorsed by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R).

The Hill has reached out to Roem for comment.

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