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Sarah McBride Is Out to Be the First Trans Member of Congress

Sarah McBride Is Out to Be the First Trans Member of Congress

Sarah McBride
Screen shot via YouTube

The Delaware state senator has announced a bid for U.S. House of Representatives.

Sarah McBride has made a lot of history already — she was the first out transgender person to address a major party’s national convention, the first one to be a state senator, and the first one reelected as a state senator. Now she’s seeking to make more history as the first out trans member of Congress.

McBride announced Monday that she’s running for Delaware’s sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2024 election. The current rep, Lisa Blunt Rochester, is vacating the seat to run for U.S. Senate, as the state’s senior member of that chamber, Tom Carper, is retiring. All are Democrats in a heavily Democratic state.

While McBride’s campaign is groundbreaking, it’s about much more than adding to her list of firsts. “I’m running for Congress to be a voice that Delaware needs to make government work better for all families, especially when hard times hit,” she tells The Advocate. “I’ve spent my life advocating for my neighbors and delivering real results from policies like paid family and medical leave [and] historic investments to protect our children.”

“As a caregiver to my late husband, Andy, I experienced many of the struggles that families are facing right now when their loved ones are seriously ill or when they’re struggling to care for a child or an aging parent,” she continues. “That’s why I ran for the state Senate. That’s why I passed the Healthy Delaware Families act to provide paid family and medical leave for workers up and down the state. That’s why I’m running for Congress. Government can’t stop all loss or all pain, but we can make life a little bit easier for people when hard times hit, and ultimately, we need federal action to do that for families of every background.”

McBride is the first candidate to declare in the race to succeed Blunt Rochester. At the age of 32, she’s already accomplished much. She interned at the White House when Barack Obama was president, and she was a staffer for former Delaware Gov. Jack Markell and the late state Attorney General Beau Biden, son of President Joe Biden. She worked for the Center for American Progress, then joined the Human Rights Campaign, serving as its national press secretary. She was at HRC when she addressed the Democratic National Convention in 2016, a first for a trans person. She was elected to Delaware’s Senate in 2020, representing District 1, which includes parts of Wilmington and neighboring cities, and reelected in 2022.

Her husband, trans man Andy McCray, died of cancer a few days after their marriage in 2014. She dealt with their relationship in the memoir Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality, published in 2018, with a foreword by Joe Biden.

About her qualifications, McBride says, “I don’t think any of us are ignorant to the challenges that both our democracy faced and families across our country face. The stakes are too high to not send brave, courageous, thoughtful, and effective leaders to Congress. For the last decade, first as an advocate and now as a legislator, I have fought for meaningful change, delivered progress that many thought at the start of those efforts would be impossible. From a landmark nondiscrimination law in 2013 to paid family and medical leave to investments in protecting children from lead poisoning to health care reform to efforts to combat disinformation, anti-corruption laws that I’ve been able to pass through the state Senate, I’ve had the experience and the results that prove that experience. So I believe that we need to make sure that Delaware’s sole representative is someone who’s thoughtful, effective, courageous, and determined to get real results for families and workers across the state.”

The landmark nondiscrimination law she refers to is the Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act, which Markell signed into law in 2013, banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity in employment, housing, and other venues. Such protections were not common at the time, and when Markell signed the legislation, he thanked McBride for her advocacy.

She acknowledges the importance of putting a face on the transgender community. “I’ve seen just how important the power of our presence is in changing policies and priorities,” she says. “I’ve seen just how important it is to have bold and effective leaders that are trans leading on issues of all kinds that matter to workers and families across our state. By having an effective member of Congress who is also trans, that will go a long way in opening hearts and changing minds and deepening the public’s understanding of who transgender people are and in making it more difficult for anti-trans politicians to scapegoat us and to turn us into caricatures. I know, ultimately, that I may be a first, the only way to ensure that I’m not the last is to do the best job I possibly can do for the residents of Delaware.”

“The only way to do right by the LGBTQ community is to first do right by the constituents that I’m privileged to serve,” she adds. “And so that’s top of mind for me, to be that bold and effective changemaker in Congress like I’ve been able to be in the Delaware State Senate, and through that helping to change hearts and minds and continue to fight for equality for all.”

In addition to fighting for that equality, McBride’s priorities include working for gun safety, including an assault weapons ban, which Delaware has (and which the federal government once had, but it was allowed to lapse; paid family and medical leave; affordable child care; universal early childhood education; reproductive rights, including access to abortion; investments in home care and elder care; and environmental protections to address climate change.

McBride says she was inspired to become an activist and then seek public office because even through the tough times she’s faced, such as coming out as trans and dealing with her husband’s illness and death, she had plenty of support from loved ones and access to benefits — something not everyone has. “I’ve seen just how lucky I am. … I know, though, that far too many people don’t have that support or love,” she says, adding, “Ultimately, I don’t believe that support should be a matter of luck. I believe that support should be a right guaranteed to everyone and the law of the land.”

Organizations that will announce their endorsements of McBride include HRC, the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, LPAC, Equality PAC, and End Citizens United/Let America Vote. She also has the endorsement of more than 20 Delaware elected officials, along with community organizers and labor leaders.

Of the most famous politicians she’s worked with, McBride has only good things to say. Beau Biden was “the real deal,” she says, “as kind and decent and compassionate behind closed doors as he was in public.” When she came out in 2012, she says, “Beau didn’t skip a beat,” assuring her that he and his wife, Hallie, loved her and were proud of her and that she was still part of the Biden family. That included Joe and Jill Biden, she notes, and Beau put the force of his office as attorney general behind the effort to pass the Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act.

Joe Biden has continued his son’s work as an advocate for trans rights, McBride adds. “I am grateful that I still have the opportunity to talk with him about not just LGBTQ rights but a whole host of issues that we are facing here in Delaware, and I am deeply moved to see him continue to carry on Beau’s legacy,” she says.

She may soon have that opportunity as a member of Congress. Watch her announcement video below.

Sarah McBride is running for

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