Democrat set to become first transgender state senator after winning primary

James Crump
·2 min read
Transgender activist Sarah McBride watches a computer screen at her watch party in Wilmington, Delaware on 15 September 2020 ((AP))
Transgender activist Sarah McBride watches a computer screen at her watch party in Wilmington, Delaware on 15 September 2020 ((AP))

Activist Sarah McBride is poised to become the first person who openly identifies as transgender to be elected as a state senator in the US, after winning a Democratic primary in Delaware.

The 30-year-old, who previously served as national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, defeated Joseph McCole in a state senator primary on Tuesday after Democrat incumbent Harris McDowell endorsed her for the position.

Mr McDowell is retiring at the end of the year, and the 80-year-old will leave the position as the longest-serving legislator in the state’s history, according to The Associated Press.

The district that Ms McBride will be the candidate for in November includes parts of northern Wilmington and areas close to the Pennsylvania border.

Ms McBride, who interned at the White House during Barack Obama’s presidency, will also become the first transgender person in Delaware to be elected to the state’s General Assembly if she wins in November.

Democratic officials outnumber Republicans by three-to-one in the state, and Ms McBride is the overwhelming favourite to defeat GOP candidate Steve Washington, according to the AP.

Although the Democratic candidate would become the first openly transgender state senator if elected in November, she would join a small group of other transgender legislators in the US.

In June, Rosemary Ketchum became West Virginia’s first transgender elected official when she became a city council representative, and in July Peyton Rose Michelle became the first transgender woman elected in Louisiana, after joining the Democratic State Central Committee.

Ms McBride became the first transgender person to speak at a major party convention when she delivered an address at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Her campaign has generated interest across the US and has so far raised at least $250,000 (£192,723) in donations, which is more than several candidates running for statewide office in Delaware.

If she is elected in November, Ms McBride’s focus will be on strengthening her area’s public schools, paid medical and family leave for all workers, and increasing competition and reducing costs in the healthcare industry.

In an interview with The Associated Press before Tuesday’s primary, Ms McBride said: “I’m bringing my whole self to this race. My identity is one part of who I am, but it’s just one part.”

The 30-year-old added: “I would be legislating based not on my identity. I would be legislating based on my values and on the needs of my constituents.”

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