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Sarah McBride is poised to be the first transgender member of Congress. Here's how she feels about it

Sarah McBride with constituants office opening sitting desk legislative session Dover deleware
Office of Friends of Sarah McBride

She discussed her historic candidacy with The Advocate and her promise to advocate for her constituents.

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As American society navigates an era marked by deep divisions and heightened cultural conflicts, specifically targeting trans people,Delaware State Sen. Sarah McBride stands at the forefront of a historic transformation. She's positioned to become the first outtransgender person elected to the U.S. Congress, and McBride’s candidacy for Delaware’s at-large House seat is a powerful symbol of progress and a stark reminder of the ongoing battles forLGBTQ+ rights.

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The Democrat captured the essence of this pivotal moment in a recent conversation with The Advocate.

“While my candidacy reflects our progress, the urgency of this moment underscores the challenges we face,” she said.

The momentum behind McBride’s campaign is substantial, buoyed by endorsements from influential figures such as House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, who holds the seat now and is running for the U.S. Senate, and an impressive fundraising total nearing $1.9 million.

Numerous groundbreaking milestones punctuate McBride’s political journey. McBride is the first transgender state senator in U.S. history. She also made history as the first out trans person to serve in the White House, during the Obama administration, and the first to speak at a major party’s national convention, in 2016. Her 2018 memoir, Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality, with a foreword by President Joe Biden, reflects her close ties with the current administration.

As a state lawmaker, McBride’s legislative accomplishments are noteworthy. She was pivotal in passing paid family and medical leave, advancing gun safety measures, and safeguarding reproductive rights.

Last October, McBridechampioned Delaware’s legislation to ban the “gay and trans panic” defense, making it the 17th state to enact such a law. This legislation prevents defendants from justifying violent actions based on the discovery of a victim’s LGBTQ+ identity. McBride convinced all her colleagues — Democrats and Republicans — to cosponsor and support the bill.

“In many cases, simply being present and collaborating on a range of issues helps to open some of the most closed hearts and minds,” McBride reflected. Her ability to cultivate bipartisanship in Delaware’s state legislature is a model she hopes to replicate in Congress. “There are so many issues where we can find common ground. They might not always make headlines, but there are a lot of day-to-day quality of life issues thatDemocrats andRepublicans can work together on.”

She recalled an incident in 2016 when she took a selfie in aNorth Carolina bathroom, defying the state’s controversial “bathroom bill” that restricted transgender people from using government buildings' restrooms aligning with their gender identity. The photo went viral, exposing her to a torrent of online vitriol. Yet McBride remains undeterred, drawing strength from her community, family, and friends.

“The negativity and hatred we see toward the trans community writ large bothers me, but the hatred and the insults that are directed specifically toward me don’t bother me any more than the broader hatred,” she noted.

Related: Sarah McBride nearly assured of Congress win after primary opponent drops out

Her platform addresses the pressing issues facing Delawareans, advocating for universal health care, affordable child care, and comprehensive gun control measures. “We need people in federal office who have a proven record of rolling up their sleeves, diving into the details, and bringing people together to deliver lasting change,” she emphasized.

The path to this historic moment became more apparent last week when McBride’s primary opponent, Eugene Young,dropped out of the race. Young, the former director of Delaware’s Housing Authority, suspended his campaign without specifying a reason, leaving McBride unopposed in the Democratic primary. This development, coupled with Delaware’s strong Democratic lean, virtually assures McBride’s victory in the general election.

Annise Parker, president and CEO of the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, remarked on the significance of this. “With trans rights under assault in states across the country, Sarah McBride’s ability to clear the primary field to represent Delaware in Congress proves that voters want their leaders focused on solving the issues that matter to their daily lives – not singling out their trans neighbors,” Parker said in astatement.

Moreover, Delaware Gov. John Carney, a Democrat, endorsed McBride’s campaign Friday, underscoring her effectiveness and dedication. “Sarah McBride has been a strong advocate for all Delawareans. She is a hardworking public servant who cares about the details and the impact that legislation can have on folks up and down the state,” Carney said.

Since launching her campaign a year ago, McBride has built an impressive coalition of supporters, earning endorsements from over 20 Delaware unions, eight statewide elected officials, and numerous colleagues in the General Assembly. Her endorsers include prominent figures such as House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, House Democratic Whip Katherine Clark, and House Democratic Chair Pete Aguilar.

McBride’s popularity was displayed prominentlyat the recent Equality PAC Gala, where she received a standing ovation. The event, held atWashington, D.C.’s Union Station, celebrated a decade of advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights and urged support for queer candidates in the upcoming election. Several speakers highlighted that if McBride wins, she would represent President Joe Biden in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Reflecting on this prospect, McBride expressed gratitude for Biden’s support, noting his legacy as the most pro-LGBTQ+ president in U.S. history.

“Joe Biden is a giant here in Delaware,” she said. “Knowing [Biden’s late son] Beau was a personal and professional privilege, and having the opportunity to get to know and work with his dad has been an incredible blessing. Representing Delaware and the Bidens would be an honor.”

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Christopher Wiggins

Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).
Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).