Trans activist Sarah McBride to focus on health care, paid leave in Delaware Senate run

Sarah McBride launched her campaign for Delaware state Senate in a video sent to supporters Tuesday morning. If elected, she would be the first openly transgender woman to serve in the General Assembly. (McBride campaign photo)

Sarah McBride launched her campaign for Delaware state Senate in a video sent to supporters Tuesday morning. If elected, she would be the first openly transgender woman to serve in the General Assembly. (McBride campaign photo)

Sarah McBride could make history once again.

She was the first openly transgender woman to work at the White House when she interned there under the Obama administration. And in 2016, she was the first openly transgender person to address a major party convention when she spoke at the DNC in Philadelphia.

Now, if elected, she would be the first openly transgender state senator in the country.

The Wilmington Democrat announced her campaign to replace longtime state Sen. Harris McDowell in a video emailed to supporters Tuesday morning.

“I’ve spent my life fighting for people to have dignity, peace of mind, and a fair shot at staying afloat and getting ahead,” McBride said. “Now our neighbors need someone who will continue to fight for them.”

McBride currently works as spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization.

While she could also become the first openly transgender woman to be elected in state history, McBride is quick to say that’s not why she’s running.

“This campaign isn’t about making history — this campaign is about making a difference and improving our communities,” she said. “I’m not running as a transgender candidate. I’m running as a health care candidate, I’m running as a paid family and medical leave candidate, I’m running as a criminal justice reform candidate.”

McBride came out as a transgender woman while serving as student body president at American University. She says her experience fighting for LGBTQ rights shows a track record of making change on issues that many people might see as difficult or impossible.

“I don’t think anyone would have thought when we started out in 2013 that we would have been able to pass both marriage equality and gender identity nondiscrimination protections in the exact same year, but we were able to do it,” she said. “I want to take that commitment and I want to take that record and bring it to Dover to make sure that we’re making the same kind of progress that we’ve seen on LGBTQ equality on issues like health care and paid family and medical leave.”

She’s running in the 1st Senate District, which covers parts of Northwest Wilmington and all the way up to Claymont along the Pennsylvania state line.

McDowell announced he would not seek re-election at the end of the General Assembly’s 2019 session on June 30. The Democrat will serve out the remainder of his current term, which expires in Nov. 2020. McDowell has represented the district since he was first elected to the Senate in 1976.

McBride’s announcement comes 16 months before Election Day, a very early entry for a General Assembly candidate.

“I wanted to run for as long as I can so that I can meet as many voters as I can, so that I can make sure that I can talk to voters throughout the 1st District about the issues that I care about and to hear from them about the issues that are keeping them up at night,” she said.

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