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Sarah McBride Makes History as Nation's First Openly Trans State Senator 

Sarah McBride

Sarah McBride, the former national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, has been elected the first transgender state senator in the U.S.

McBride, a Democrat, bested Republican Steve Washington in the Delaware’s First District, which includes part of Wilmington and, like the state as a whole, is heavily Democratic. This makes her the highest-ranking out transgender lawmaker in the nation, with state Senates being the upper legislative house. The Senate seat became open with the retirement of Democrat Harris McDowell, a senator since the 1970s.

“Sarah’s overwhelming victory is a powerful testament to the growing influence of transgender leaders in our politics and gives hope to countless trans people looking toward a brighter future,” Annise Parker, president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which endorsed McBride, said in a press release. “Throughout this election cycle, Donald Trump and other cynical politicians attempted to use trans people as a political weapon, believing they could gain popularity by stoking fear and hate. For Sarah to shatter a lavender ceiling in such a polarizing year is a powerful reminder that voters are increasingly rejecting the politics of bigotry in favor of candidates who stand for fairness and equality. Her victory will inspire more trans people to follow in her footsteps and run for public office.”

“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,” said Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “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.”

Her win was not the only one for a trans candidate Tuesday. Vermont elected its first out trans legislator, Taylor Small, also a Democrat. She will join the Vermont House of Representatives from a district that includes the town of Winooski and part of Burlington.

The impact of Taylor’s groundbreaking victory cannot be overstated,” Parker said. “There are so few transgender people in elected office that nearly every win is a historic one, yet with each barrier broken comes more trans people inspired to do the same. Even pro-equality states like Vermont need trans voices in government to ensure the priorities and concerns of the community are heard. Taylor will bring that perspective to the state House and Vermont can be a leader on trans equality because of it.”

McBride and Small are two of five nonincumbent trans candidates on the ballot Tuesday. The Advocate will update this story as more results come in.

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