Sen. Sarah McBride on Making History and What the Future Holds for Trans Lawmakers

by HRC Staff

Post submitted by Narissa Rahaman, HRC Associate Regional Campaign Director

In January 2021, Sarah McBride was officially sworn into the Delaware Senate, making her the first openly transgender state senator and highest ranking elected transgender politician in history.

We recently talked with Sen. McBride about her campaign, her message for folks who want to run for office and her plans for her first term in the Delaware Senate.

What does it mean to you to be a history maker?

I didn't run to make history or headlines, I ran to make a difference in my community. I am incredibly honored to represent communities and serve a state that I love so much. Being first only matters if I'm not the last. I can't just leave a Sarah-sized hole in the wall. It is my job to help bring down all of the barriers that stand in the way of people living healthy, happy and fulfilling lives, and that includes my LGBTQ constituents. Ultimately, if I do that work, I will meet my responsibilities to my constituents and, in so doing, will do justice by the LGBTQ community.

You’ve inspired so many folks, from your speech at the DNC to your advocacy work, and now you’re inspiring people to run for public office. What do you say to young folks who want to run but may not see themselves represented?

I once feared that my dreams and my identity were mutually exclusive. I once worried that there was no place for trans people like me to participate in any way in our politics. Since coming out, though, I've seen that change is possible and I've learned that the only things that are truly impossible are the things we don't try. You can run, you can win and you can serve.

What is your hope for out trans/LGBTQ lawmakers who serve in the future?

For the timing being, we should celebrate these advancements. We should amplify the possibilities for our youth and for one another. But it is my hope that diversity in government becomes so commonplace that it's no longer newsworthy when a trans person gets elected to public office. We must recognize that diversity in government is not a luxury, but a necessity. The only way for government to craft solutions that meet the needs of a diverse community is to have the full diversity of that community represented at the table. When that becomes a reality, LGBTQ representation will no longer be the exception.

What are your own values that inspired you to run, and how have those same values inspired your legislative agenda?"

I'm so lucky to represent the community that raised me. Throughout my life, I've seen this state at its best, but I also know that so many people are still left behind. I ran to give back to this state and to ensure the support and opportunity I've experienced is afforded to everyone no matter what they look like or where they live.
I also ran for office because I've seen in my own advocacy, especially during my time at the Human Rights Campaign, the simple fact that change is possible. I've seen that politics at its best is the art of transforming impossibility into possibility into reality, which is why I ran on a bold platform of paid family and medical leave for all, a livable wage, real justice reform and health care as a right.

What's your platform for your first session?

As the new chair of the Senate Health and Social Services Committee, I am focused on helping our administration get the vaccine out as quickly and efficiently as possible. But as we build a bridge to the other side of this crisis, I believe that we have a responsibility to learn the lesson of this crisis and to reimagine our world. We can't return to the ways of the past, we have to chart a new path forward. We have seen during this pandemic that no one should have to give up their income in the face of illness. Whether someone is struggling through COVID or cancer, a global health crisis or an individual health crisis, we have to do more to support people when they need that help the most. Throughout my campaign, I championed paid family and medical leave for all Delawareans and will continue to do so as a state Senator.

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