We’re both still sweating, wiping our foreheads and noses and chins after a blistering heated yoga class, but Danica Roem doesn’t want to shower just yet. Arms crossed, she leans against the wall outside the women’s locker room at a yoga studio in northern Virginia, waiting until it’s empty before she heads in to strip off her drenched black top and gray and white workout pants. “I take long showers,” she tells me. “I always was the last person to take a shower.”

But there’s also this: “In the off-chance that I’ve been clocked, that someone knows I’m trans, if that person has internal bias about it, I never want anyone to feel uncomfortable around me,” she says. The 32-year-old yoga lover and former local news reporter, who’s running for a seat in the state legislature to represent Prince William County, in northern Virginia, understands how hostile people can be. “I don’t feel that my mere presence in the locker room should make anyone feel uncomfortable. Because I’m not out to do anything. But in this political climate … some people can be extremely negative toward trans folk. I’m personally very, very fortunate. I’ve never had a problem in the restroom ever. I don’t think that trans people should have to do that. This is a cognizant choice that I have made, so that one, I know I’m gonna take the longest shower, so I just let everyone else shower first. That’s just out of courtesy. And then, second, is self-preservation.”

By Rebecca Nelson

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