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Politics & Government

Transgender delegate excited to hear Sarah McBride's speech Thursday

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Megan Pauly
/
Delaware Public Media
Indiana delegate Jeanne Smith is transgender, and didn't come out until she was 55.

The first transgender speaker at a national convention will take the stage Thursday. But speaker Sarah McBride isn’t the only transgender individual at the DNC.

64-year-old Jeanne Smith is an Indiana delegate, and she’s transgender. She didn’t “come out” to friends and families members until about a decade ago when she was 55.

“When I first came out I read somewhere that it’s like trying to hold a beach ball underwater for fifty years and a couple of years later I realized that’s exactly what I did from age five to age fifty-five," Smith said.

She's attending the convention to help raise awareness about her transgender identity.

 

“There’s one study that said more Americans say they’ve seen a ghost than say they’ve seen a transgender person," she said. "So that’s why I’m here: so people can see that we’re just normal people. I own a bicycle shop, I have eight employees, I’ve been in business 41 years, the community accepts me.”

 

She was sent to the convention as a Bernie Sanders delegate, but says Hillary delegates have been very supportive and have applauded her for attending.

She’s very glad that the first transgender speaker will take the stage at the DNC Thursday.

In contrast, Trump’s running mate is from Smith’s home state.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence has remained firm in his support of traditional marriage even in the face of rapidly-shifting public opinion on gay rights.

Smith says more attention needs to be paid to issues relating to the rights of transgender women, like herself.

 

“There are lots and lots of trans men and people never see them," Smith said. "Because if you’re a trans man and you take testosterone, as often as not you go bald, you grow a beard, your voice lowers immediately. Your listeners hear a man here because my voice didn’t change. You’re looking at a woman and you’re hearing a man.”

 

Smith adds that for most of her life, she never met another transgender person – and attributes the Internet to connecting her to a large community of transgender people.

She said she’s never going back in the closet.

“I lived in fear my whole life, but there’s nothing to fear but fear itself," she said.

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