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Sarah McBride to become first transgender state senator in U.S. history

McBride, a prominent LGBTQ advocate, easily won her race for a seat in the Delaware state Senate.
Image: Transgender activist Sarah McBride, who hopes to win a seat in the Delaware Senate, campaigns at the Claymont Boys & Girls Club in Claymont, Del
Transgender activist Sarah McBride campaigns at the Claymont Boys & Girls Club in Claymont, Del., on Sept. 15.Jason Minto / AP

Sarah McBride has won her Delaware state Senate race, poising her to become the first and only openly transgender state senator in the U.S. and the country's highest-ranking transgender official.

"I hope tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too," McBride, 30, tweeted Tuesday night after the election was called. "As Delaware continues to face the Covid crisis, it's time to get to work to invest in the policies that will make a difference for working families."

She easily defeated Republican Steve Washington to represent Delaware's 1st Senate District. Incumbent Democrat Harris McDowell, who did not seek re-election after 44 years, had endorsed McBride.

The 1st District covers Bellefonte, Claymont and parts of Wilmington, the state's largest city.

"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 in a statement announcing her candidacy last year. "Sen. McDowell's retirement at the end of this term is a well-deserved cap on a remarkable career of public service, and now our neighbors need someone who will continue to fight for them."

McBride, a former spokesperson for the LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, made national headlines in 2012 when she stepped down as American University's student body president and came out as trans in the school's student newspaper.

While still in college, she interned with the Obama administration, becoming the first out transgender woman to work in the White House, according to her campaign announcement.

McBride then became the first trans person to speak at a major political convention in 2016, when she addressed Democrats in Philadelphia.

There are four transgender people in state legislatures, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund. The first was Danica Roem, who won a seat in the Virginia House in 2017.

"For Sarah to shatter a lavender ceiling in such a polarizing year is a powerful reminder that voters are increasingly rejecting the politics of bigotry in favor of candidates who stand for fairness and equality," said Annise Parker, president of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which works to train and support out candidates.

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said McBride "made history not just for herself but for our entire community."

"This victory, the first of what I expect to be many in her career, shows that any person can achieve their dream, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation," he said.

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