Sarah McBride, 30, is the first ever transgender state senator in US history. The Democratic party candidate was elected in Delaware, a small East Coast state, with 90% of the vote (86% remote). Her triumph comes at a time when lawmakers across the country have introduced laws targeting transgender people, from banning trans female athletes from competing in women's sports to new health care restrictions introduced by the Trump administration.
Sarah McBride has worked as the press secretary of LGBTQ advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign, but her career in politics started a few years ago. In 2012 she was a trainee in President Barack Obama’s administration (the first publicly transgender person to work in the White House) and continued, step by step, to the top of the Democratic party. In 2016, Senator McBride was the first transgender woman to speak at an event of one of the main American parties: she gave her speech during the Democratic Convention demonstrating her strength and her political caliber.
Even though she is not the only transgender person in the US legislature, McBride is the first to become a state senator.
“It is my fervent hope that tonight a young person in Delaware [...] or anywhere in this country can go to sleep tonight […] with a powerful but simple message: that our democracy is big enough for them too.” - @SarahEMcBride #ElectionNight #UnityWins (📹: @cmclymer) pic.twitter.com/1zMbGSYHeq— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) November 4, 2020
Sarah McBride worked on a highly progressive election campaign: her agenda calls for affordable health care, improved funding for education and an increase in the national minimum wage.
In an interview, Senator McBride said that she wanted her victory to inspire others. “My hope is that this result can help reinforce for a young kid trying to find their place in this world, here in Delaware or anywhere else in this country, that this democracy is big enough for them, too.” She also added: “Right now in America, we are seeing voices that for so long were pushed to the margins and to the shadows finally being heard.”
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.”
McBride has played a crucial role in the fight against LGBTQ+ discrimination in the state of Delaware and has lobbied for the Equality Act to extend protections nationwide. For her efforts in advancing equality in Delaware, she was also awarded with the Order of the First State by former Governor Jack Markell.
Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is still widespread in the United States, although the country has long fought to abolish hatred towards the LGBTQ+ community. According to recent studies conducted by USA Today News, about half of the LGBTQ+ people in America (52%) live in states where they could be fired, not promoted, limited in training, or harassed in the workplace, all just because of their gender identity and/or their sexual orientation.
Moreover, studies conducted by the New York Times affirm that sexual minorities live in a critical and traumatic situation due to the fallout from the political choices of governments regarding crimes based on sexual orientation. The murders that took place in the last five years, and even the most recent slaughters of Riah Milton and Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, were a reminder that despite small successes (such as repealing the ban on transgender people serving in the military and the legalisation of same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court) “obstacles to acceptance and equality remain”.
READ ALSO: It's Not Gender War, It's Misogynoir
We can now hope that Sarah McBride’s election is a starting point towards a more equitable future for all.
Credit picture: AP and GettyImages
Written by Miriam Tagini