At just 29 years old, transgender Delaware state senate candidate Sarah McBride has racked up an impressive number of accomplishments.
In 2013, as a member of the Board of Directors of Equality Delaware, she played a pivotal role in getting LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws passed in the state. For her efforts, she was awarded the highest civilian honor, Order of the First State, by then-Governor Jack Markell (D-DE).
McBride has worked for both Markell and former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden (D-DE). She was the first out transgender woman to intern at the White House, and at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, she became the first out transgender person to address a major political party convention.
Now, McBride serves as National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign while also running to become one of the first out transgender state senators in the country—as well as the first out LGBTQ person elected to the Delaware state legislature.
“Time and time again, I’ve had the opportunity to see there is space for people of all different backgrounds, including trans people, in our politics,” she told LGBTQ Nation.
But McBride didn’t always feel this way.
“Growing up, it seemed like there was no place for someone like me,” she said. “And there were certainly no examples of someone like me participating publicly, let alone having a seat at the table in a leadership capacity. Piece by piece, I was able to see just how wrong that understandable fear was.”
In 2012, McBride came out publicly in a school newspaper article while serving as class president of American University. That article was then turned into a Huffington Post essay, which McBride ended by declaring, “I now know that my dreams and my identity are only mutually exclusive if I don’t try.”
With all of this trailblazing comes responsibility, though. McBride says she understands that whenever she advances, she has a duty to ensure more marginalized people get seats at the table as well.
“And that’s not just members of our own community,” she said. “It’s other people across society who have been pushed to the margins or forgotten in our politics.”
From her experience working in politics, McBride has learned that the most effective place to advocate for change is at the state level. She is running for state senate in Delaware’s first district.
“This is the district I was born and raised in,” she said. “It’s the district that helped shape me into the person I am, and most importantly, it’s the district that has supported me and sustained me through some of the most difficult and challenging moments of my life.”
She also said she has no trouble being out and proud while running there.
“What has been clear to me throughout my life, and what has been demonstrated every day of this campaign, is voters throughout this district judge people on their merits and what they have to bring to the table, not on their identities. I’m seeing that people don’t care about my gender identity. They just care about whether I’m going to fight for them.”
McBride is proud of the values her district holds, but she also knows there are many things about her community that need improvement.
“A lot of our neighbors still feel left behind,” she said. “A lot of people still wonder whether they’ll be able to make it at all. I’m running because I want us to be able to more fully live up to our values as a state of neighbors.”
She is focused on ensuring children have equal access to education, making healthcare more affordable, expanding access to paid medical leave, and reforming the criminal justice system.
The first district’s current senator, Harris B. McDowell III (D), announced this past summer that he will retire after 44 years in office.
Right now, in a district that the Delaware Business Times referred to as “one of the state’s most reliably Democratic districts,” McBride is the only Democrat running for his seat, though the filing deadline is not until July.
In January, a Republican challenger, Steve Washington, announced his candidacy. Washington, a full-time special education teacher, lost the race for Wilmington Mayor in 2016, where he ran as an independent.
In an interview with Delaware Online, Washington explained why he is running for state senate as a Republican: “Talking to Democrats, they already had their mind set. … I’m getting more of a response from the Republicans,” he said. “I get a very good response about family, about values. … The structure of the family has been broken down, and we need to fix it.”
A primary is scheduled for September 15th 2020, and the general election will be held on November 3rd.
“I’ve spent my life fighting for the underdog,” she said, “fighting for people to have a fair shot at staying afloat and getting ahead and being treated with dignity. I’ll take that same fight, I’ll take that same energy and that same commitment down to Dover to fight for every resident of the first senate district.”