Sarah McBride's Delaware Senate Win Makes Her The First Openly Trans State Senator
While Election Day has been a source of stress for many, it comes with a silver lining. On Nov. 3, Sarah McBride made her mark as the first openly transgender person to be elected state senator in U.S. history, effectively making her the highest ranking trans politician in the country. After spending years advocating for LGBTQ+ rights in her home state and around the country, Sarah McBride's Delaware Senate win makes her the United States' first openly trans state senator, and people all over America are celebrating this monumental victory for equality.
McBride beat Republican candidate Steve Washington to claim 73% of the vote, per The New York Times, and represent Delaware's 1st District in the state senate. She'll take over the seat vacated by state Sen. Harris McDowell, who declined to run for re-election in 2020. Per Vox, she ran on a platform of affordable health care, paid family and medical leave, and criminal justice reform, among other issues.
In a set of tweets after her race was called, McBride thanked voters and shared her hopes for the future. "I hope tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too."
The newly elected state senator has spent the length of her political career building a foundation of equality for LGBTQ+ communities across the country. She's assumed several high-profile roles since she first began pursuing politics in college, serving as the national press secretary at the Human Rights Campaign, joining the board of directors at Equality Delaware, and even working alongside former Governor Jack Markell and former Attorney General Beau Biden.
McBride first entered the national spotlight in 2015, when she became the first transgender American to speak at the Democratic National Convention. “Will we be a nation where there's only one way to love, one way to look, one way to live?" She asked during her speech. "Or will we be a nation where everyone has the freedom to live openly and equally — a nation that's stronger together?" she added. While these questions remain poignant for many Americans (especially on such a tense election night), McBride has worked hard to establish legislation ensuring equality for LGBTQ+ communities. In 2013, when McBride was just a senior at the American University, she collaborated with the late Beau Biden to pass the Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act in Delaware — which passed by a single-vote margin.
Since incumbent President Donald Trump's 2017 inauguration, multiple states have sought to establish laws that would deny health care for trans youth, ban trans and non-binary athletes from competing in sports, and restrict trans people from using their preferred bathroom and locker room facilities. Multiple studies have shown that trans people are significantly more likely to die from homicide than cisgender people, and as of Jul. 1, 2019, only eight states have instilled bans on the use of the "trans panic" legal defense — an argument frequently used to justify the murder of trans individuals.
During her 2015 speech at the DNC, McBride emphasized her determination to persist in the midst of these setbacks. "People must understand that even as we face daily harassment, tragic violence, and an onslaught of anti-LGBTQ political attacks across the country, we are real people merely seeking to be treated with the dignity and respect every person deserves," she said.