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LGBT+ rights champion Sarah McBride just became the first transgender state senator in US history

Nick Duffy November 4, 2020
Sarah McBride

Sarah McBride, National Press Secretary for the HRC Foundation, speaks onstage at The Human Rights Campaign 2018 Los Angeles Gala Dinner. (Rich Fury/Getty Images for Human Rights Campaign)

Human Rights Campaign activist and transgender rights champion Sarah McBride has become the first trans woman ever elected to a state senate.

McBride claimed a swift victory in her race for the Delaware senate on Tuesday (November 3), becoming the first trans person to ever hold office in a state’s upper chamber.

There are a handful of transgender politicians who sit in state legislatures, but no out transgender politicians hold federal or statewide office anywhere in the United States.

Sarah McBride makes history with election win

McBride, who serves as National Press Secretary of Human Rights Campaign, played a pivotal role in the fight for LGBT+ discrimination protections in Delaware, and has lobbied for the Equality Act to extend protections nationwide.

Preliminary results show her claiming a comfortable victory in the safely Democratic 1st state senate district, leading Republican Steve Washington by a considerable margin.

As the race was called, the candidate wrote: “We did it! Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Annise Parker of LGBTQ Victory Fund said: “Sarah’s overwhelming victory is a powerful testament to the growing influence of transgender leaders in our politics and gives hope to countless trans people looking toward a brighter future.

“Throughout this election cycle, Donald Trump and other cynical politicians attempted to use trans people as a political weapon, believing they could gain popularity by stoking fear and hate.

“For Sarah to shatter a lavender ceiling in such a polarizing year is a powerful reminder that voters are increasingly rejecting the politics of bigotry in favour of candidates who stand for fairness and equality. Her victory will inspire more trans people to follow in her footsteps and run for public office.”

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said: “Tonight, Sarah made history not just for herself but for our entire community. She gives a voice to the marginalized as a representative and an advocate.

“This victory, the first of what I expect to be many in her career, shows that any person can achieve their dream, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation. Though we will miss having her as an employee at the Human Rights Campaign, Sarah will undoubtedly represent the First District well and we look forward to seeing what she accomplishes.”

LGBT rights activist Sarah McBride and co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney at the Democratic National Convention in 2016
LGBT+ rights activist Sarah McBride and co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney at the Democratic National Convention in 2016 (Getty)

The candidate, a former Obama White House staffer, was thrust into the national spotlight in 2016 when she became the first transgender person to give a speech at the Democratic National Convention. Her campaign had endorsements from figures including Joe Biden, who had strongly supported her move into politics and penned the foreword for her 2018 memoir.

It was only three years ago that another pioneering candidate, Danica Roem, beca,e the first out transgender person ever elected to a state legislature, when she was elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates. Like McBride, Roem largely nosed her campaign on local issues.

Victory sends a ‘powerful’ symbol to transgender kids

Ahead of the vote, McBride told People: “I’m not running to make history or to make headlines. I’m running to make a difference in this community and to represent this community as best I can by bringing the full range of experiences and perspectives I have with such a long history in this community.”

She added: “I am mindful of the responsibility that I hold.

“I’m mindful of just how powerful it would’ve been for me as a kid to see the story pop up online of a transgender person being elected to a state senate and the message that it would’ve sent to somebody like me growing up worried that there wasn’t space for someone like me in this world.

“That’s a powerful message and that’s a powerful opportunity to provide a little bit of hope, and a little bit of comfort, to a young person here in Delaware or somewhere else in this country, that our democracy is big enough for them too.”

More: delaware, sarah mcbride, Trans, Transgender

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