UNITED STATES

Who is Sarah McBride, the first transgender state senator in the US?

Democrat Sarah McBride has become the highest-ranking openly transgender elected official in the US after winning Delaware's First District on Tuesday.

Who is Sarah McBride, the US' first transgender state senator?
SAUL LOEB AFP

Human-rights and equality activist Sarah McBride has become the first openly transgender person to occupy a seat in a US state senate, after winning Tuesday’s election in Delaware.

McBride takes Delaware First District with over 73% of the vote

McBride overwhelmingly beat Republican opponent Steven Washington in the state’s First District, taking 73.3% of the vote, according to Delaware’s Department of Elections.

Delaware’s First District covers Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s home city of Wilmington, which is where McBride is from.

US' highest-ranking transgender elected official

The 30-year-old, who takes office immediately but is due to be officially sworn in in January, becomes the highest-ranking transgender elected official in the US.

Per Politico, there are four other state lawmakers in the US who publicly identify as transgender: Virginia state delegate Danica Roem, Colorado state representative Brianna Titone, and New Hampshire state representatives Lisa Bunker and Gerri Cannon.

McBride hopes win "shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too"

“We did it […],” McBride tweeted after her victory on Tuesday. “I hope tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too.”

McBride is currently the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, and is also on the board of directors of Equality Delaware.

In the wake of her election win, Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, told a statement: “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.”

McBride came out as transgender woman in 2012

In 2012, McBride came out as a transgender woman in an op-ed in the Eagle, the student newspaper at her college, American University, where she served as student-government president.

For my entire life, I’ve wrestled with my gender identity […],” she wrote in the piece, entitled "The Real Me". “As SG President, I realized that as great as it is to work on issues of fairness, it only highlighted my own struggles.”

She continued: “With everything I did, from the mundane to the exciting, the only way I was able to enjoy it was if I re-imagined doing it as a girl. My life was passing me by, and I was done wasting it as someone I wasn’t.”

McBride worked on LGBTQ issues during a stint as an intern at the White House, and was a part of the election campaigns of former Delaware governor Jack Markell and former Delaware attorney general Beau Biden, Joe Biden's late son.

After her piece in the Eagle, which gained widespread attention, McBride received messages of support from Beau and Joe Biden, the then-vice president telling her: “I just wanted to let you to know that Beau is so proud of you, [former second lady] Jill is so proud of you, I'm so proud of you, and I'm so happy that you're who you are."

"An unwavering, unyielding ache in the pit of my stomach”

In early 2016, McBride gave a TED talk called “Gender assigned to us at birth should not dictate who we are”, in which she described her struggles with her identity before coming out as transgender.

“It felt like a constant home-sickness, and not a home-sickness in my own body but a home-sickness in my own life,” she said. "An unwavering, unyielding ache in the pit of my stomach that only went away when I began to embrace my true self. When I could be seen as me.”

First transgender person to speak at major party convention

Later in 2016, McBride became the first openly transgender person to speak at the political convention of a major party in the US when she gave an address at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

In 2018, she released the book Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality, which includes a foreword by Joe Biden.

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