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Delaware's Sarah McBride makes history again as first openly transgender state senator

Sarah McBride won Delaware’s 1st District state Senate seat. Her victory breaks a barrier for transgender people nationwide.

Democrat Sarah McBride became the first openly transgender person elected to a state senate in the country Tuesday when she captured 73 percent of the vote against Republican Steve Washington. 

It’s not the first barrier McBride has broken. She became the first trans person to speak at a major party convention during the 2016 DNC. 


She interned in the Obama White House, worked on Beau Biden’s campaign for state Attorney General and is currently the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign. McBride also lobbied for Delaware’s gender identity anti-discrimination law signed in 2013. 

McBride said in an interview Tuesday night that she didn't run to make history or headlines.

“But I do hope that tonight’s results can send a powerful and potentially life-saving message to a young person here in Delaware or potentially somewhere else in this country that their voice matters and that our Democracy is big enough for them too,” she said. 

McBride  campaigned on issues such as affordable healthcare, expanded medical and family leave, universal pre-K and criminal justice reform.

She says her first focus will be making sure Delaware continues to manage the pandemic with a data- and science-based approach. 

“But I also believe that we have to make sure that we don’t just rebuild and recover from this crisis, but reimagine our community, to build an economy where everyone has a fair shot,” she said. 

McBride was not the only LGBTQ candidate to make history in Delaware Tuesday. Eric Morrison won his race for the 27th Representative District, and Marie Pinkney won in the 13th Senate District. They are the first openly gay people to be elected to the General Assembly. 

Several trangender candidates have been elected to lower chambers of state legislatures in other states in recent years. Several more were elected for the first time Tuesday, including Taylor Small in Vermont and Stephanie Byers in Kansas.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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