Story at a glance

  • Sarah McBride (D-Del.) is the first trans woman elected to a U.S. state senate.
  • She has connections to the Biden family.
  • She wants to expand access to paid family and medical leave and improve health care.

In November, Delaware state Sen. Sarah McBride (D) became the first trans woman elected to a state Senate, and there’s no place she’d rather be.

“State legislatures are the ways we can make the most amount of change for the most amount of people,” McBride told The Hill in an interview Monday. State Houses and Senates, she added, “are uniquely positioned to meet the scope and the scale of the challenges that we face,” so “I decided running for state Senate was the place where I wanted to put my time and effort in creating change.”

McBride’s election, which makes her the highest-ranking elected trans woman in U.S. history, also has a national connection in the form of her long history with the incoming first family. She worked on the late Beau Biden’s 2010 campaign for Delaware attorney general and Biden personally expressed his pride after she came out in 2012 in American University’s student newspaper.

Later that year, she became the first openly trans woman to intern at the White House and in 2015, then-second lady Jill Biden hailed her in a speech at a Human Rights Campaign event.

“As someone who grew up in Delaware, the privilege of sharing the Delaware ballot with [Joe Biden] was particularly special for this proud Delawarean,” McBride told The Hill. While Joe Biden frequently emphasized his roots in his birthplace of Pennsylvania, McBride said the president-elect’s victory has been a source of pride in the First State.

“Delaware is a place that has been by Joe Biden’s side through incredible personal tragedy whether it was the loss of his first wife and daughter or the loss of Beau Biden who I was proud to call a friend, a boss and a mentor,” she said.

When McBride won, the first person who called her was a role model and friend, Virginia Del. Danica Roem (D), who became the first openly trans woman elected to a state legislature in 2017.

Like Roem, McBride ran on, and intends to prioritize, more than the historic nature of her win. McBride said one of the first things on her agenda will be expanding access to paid family and medical leave in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The virus, she added, has served as further proof that “No one should have to give up their income in the face of illness.”

“Whether you’re struggling with COVID or cancer we have to make sure Delawareans have the care that they need,” she added.

In addition to making national news with her win, McBride went viral when she tweeted an image of a Twitter message she received last week. “I am confused, are you a boy or girl?” asked the sender, whose identity McBride obscured.

“I’m a senator,” she responded.

McBride told The Hill she’s received online communications that are “much worse” than the message in question, but in this case, “I thought it was a good education moment to reinforce that I’m not running on my gender identity.”

“With social media there inevitably are comments but … I remember the fact that this is a community that judged candidates based on their ideas and not their identities,” she said, citing her victory as proof. “If you’ve got something to offer you can have a seat at the table.”

“That’s the message the election sent,” she added. “It wasn’t sent by me it was sent by the voters of this district.”

Published on Dec 01, 2020