Trailblazing senator Sarah McBride says joke trans TV character ruined ‘life-affirming’ realisation she was trans

Patrick Kelleher December 9, 2020
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Sarah McBride Jack Markell

Sarah McBride spoke of the incredible support former Delaware governor Jack Markell offered her after she came out as transgender. (Rich Fury/Getty)

Newly elected senator Sarah McBride reflected on the moment she realised she was trans, which she said was ruined by a joke trans TV character played by cis actor Jenny McCarthy.

McBride made history when she was elected to the Delaware state senate in November, making her the first transgender person in the United States to achieve such a feat.

The trailblazing Democrat reflected on her incredible journey to public office in an interview with Forbes, where she opened up about her formative years.

Aged 10, McBride was watching the NBC sitcom Just Shoot Me with her mother when a guest character, played by cis actor turned anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy, was revealed to be trans.

McBride asked her mother if characters like the woman in Just Shoot Me existed in real life, and she said they did.

“I thought: ‘Oh, my God, I’m going to have to tell you this someday, and you are going to be so disappointed,'” McBride said.

She said the moment could have been “life-affirming”, but it was instead “soul-crushing” because the character in Just Shoot Me was played for laughs.

McBride said that she knew every time the laugh track played on the show that there “wouldn’t be a place” for her in the world.

“And even if I couldn’t personally benefit… I think I got involved in politics because I thought if I could help others in their pursuit of authenticity and happiness, that it would somehow fill the incompleteness and the pain in my own life,” she said.

Sarah McBride’s mother ‘fell to the floor crying’ after she came out as trans to state governor.

Elsewhere in the interview Sarah McBride opened up about the incredible support she received from former Delaware governor Jack Markell when she came out as transgender.

McBride said she became actively involved in politics when she was just 12-years-old, and one of her first campaigns as a teenager in Delaware was Markell’s gubernatorial bid.

She serve as a field organiser on his campaign, knocking on doors and recruiting volunteers. Crucially, she got 60 students to get involved in Markell’s campaign.

Markell said he “probably would not have won without her” – so it made sense that the former Delaware governor supported McBride and her family through her transition.

Sarah McBride became heavily involved in campus politics while studying at American University in Washington DC, and went on to become student body president.

While serving as president, McBride came out as trans publicly for the first time – but she wanted to tell Markell personally. She called one of his advisors, and three hours later, Markell called her.

“I pick up, and he goes: ‘Well, that’s big news,'” McBride told Forbes. “I went through a very abbreviated, rapid version of what I was experiencing and told him that I didn’t want to take too much of his time. And he just said: ‘You know, slow down, let’s talk.'”

To have the governor of the state and the first lady reach out and say: ‘This doesn’t change anything. We love you.’

McBride and Markell spoke for 45 minutes over the phone, with the Delaware governor reassuring her that he loved and supported her.

Minutes after their phone call ended, Markell’s wife called McBride personally to express her support. The couple then called McBride’s parents.

“I remember my mother was so scared when I came out, I’ve never seen her cry that hard,” McBride said.

“To have the governor of the state and the first lady reach out and say, ‘This doesn’t change anything. We love you. And we’re there for Sarah and are there for you.”

McBride continued: “My mother was in a mall and fell to the floor and started crying.”

Markell continued to offer his support to McBride, calling her once a fortnight to check in on her.

“There’s no one in politics who has supported me and mentored me more than Jack Markell,” McBride said.

“He is a generous and compassionate person.”

McBride revealed that Markell fought to introduce non-discrimination protections for transgender people because he wanted to see her thrive.

More: jack markell, sarah mcbride

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