Sarah McBride set to become first transgender state senator after primary win

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Sarah McBride

Sarah McBride won the Democratic primary in Delaware’s first state senate district Tuesday night, all but assuring her a general election victory. With a win in November, McBride will become the first transgender state senator in U.S. history. McBride currently serves as the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign.

“Tonight sends a powerful signal that candidates like me can win,” McBride posted on Twitter. “Everyone deserves to see themselves in government, to follow their dreams, and to be accepted by their community. I will never take for granted the honor of carrying that mantle.”

McBride, who has worked for former Delaware Governor Jack Markell, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, and the White House Office of Public Engagement, made history in 2016 as the first transgender person to speak at the Democratic National Convention. She announced her campaign for state senate in 2019.

“Sarah McBride is one of the most impressive people I have had the privilege to meet,” HRC President Alphonso David said. “From her brilliant policy expertise to her ability to inspire and empathize, Sarah is the epitome of what can make an elected official great. Next year, as the first transgender state senator in our nation, Sarah will show that any child can achieve their dream, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.”

McBride won 91% of the vote in the first district, which covers parts of Wilmington and up to the Pennsylvania border. She will replace state senator Harris McDowell, who is retiring after 43 years in office.

Since age 13, McBride has been involved in politics, volunteering on political campaigns and being active in student affairs — including campaigning for gender-neutral dormitories — while in college. But she found it difficult to achieve all she wanted while hiding part of herself.

“The more successful I became, the more I thought I had to hide my authentic self,” McBride told PGN in a 2014 interview, “but I rationalized it to myself by saying, If I can make it worthwhile for me to be a boy for other people, by doing good things and creating positive change in my community, then it would be worthwhile. If I was in a position to help other people who were struggling, then it was worth staying in the closet to keep that position. But once I got to American University and became student-body president, it became abundantly clear to me that I could no longer create the change that I wanted to create bringing only half myself to the table. I realized that staying in the closet was no longer an option. It was becoming insufferable.”

After coming out in 2011, McBride worked on and testified in support of Delaware’s Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act which became law in 2013. She then went on to work for the Center for American Progress before joining the Human Rights Campaign. In 2018 she published a memoir, “Tomorrow Will Be Different” about her life and activism. Vice President Biden, in his forward to the book, mentioned McBride’s resilience after her husband, activist Andrew Clay, passed away in 2014.

“For Sarah, she has gotten up and kept going with Andy still in her heart and soul. And she continues to be there for every transgender person rejected by their family and friends.”

McBride’s primary victory comes amidst rampant transgender discrimination by the Trump administration in healthcare, military service, housing and homelessness, and other areas.

Another primary race in Delaware, for the 27th House District, saw out gay man Eric Morrison defeat incumbent Earl Jaques. Morrison thanked his supporters on Twitter, writing: “Last night, we won our primary election with a spread of over 22%! Thank you to everyone who supported our campaign in any way, big or small. We are taking today to celebrate and rest—and tomorrow, we keep it in high gear for the November 3 general election!”