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Sarah McBride in Delaware makes history as first openly transgender state senator in US

Natalia Alamdari
Delaware News Journal

Sarah McBride made history Tuesday night by becoming the first openly transgender state senator.

McBride, the national press secretary for Human Rights Campaign and a Wilmington native, will be the first transgender person elected official in Delaware, and the first transgender state senator in the nation. The win also makes McBride the highest-ranking openly transgender elected official in the country.  

Democratic candidate for state senate Sarah McBride, right, embraces her mother Sally McBride after the Associated Press announced her victory Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, at Wilmington Brew Works. McBride becomes the first out transgender person to be elected to a state senate seat in the United States.

The Democrat won easily over Republican candidate Steve Washington in Senate District 1, which is being vacated by retiring longtime Sen. Harris McDowell (D-Wilmington North). 

"Tonight's results might send a comforting and hopeful message to a young person in Delaware, or really anywhere else in this country, who's struggling with who they are and how they fit into this world," McBride said from a small watch party at Wilmington Brew Works. "It might be able to send them a message that their voice matters and our democracy is big enough for them."

Democratic winner for state senate seat 1 Sarah McBride, right, grabs the figurative torch from retiring senator Harris McDowell r(D-Wilmington North) Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, at Wilmington Brew Works.

McBride called the win an honor, and hopes to "meet this moment with meaningful results that make a real difference in the lives of Delawareans here in this district and around our state." Despite the national attention her campaign has received, McBride said her priority is her neighbors she will now represent in the district.  

"Whatever message I send to young people or the LGBTQ community, the only way to positively send that message is to live up to the responsibility I have to the residents here in the district, to make sure I do the best possible job for them," McBride said. 

McBride ran on a progressive platform, and is one of the many candidates attempting to push Delaware's Democratic party further left. Her campaign called for affordable health care, improving school funding, universal pre-kindergarten, and increasing minimum wage. Come the start of session, she hopes to push for "real benefits for working families."

In recent months, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the urgency around those policy changes, she said.

ELECT 2020: Carney, Coons, Blunt Rochester win; McBride makes history; more updates

"From the start, I knew I wanted to be the health care and paid leave candidate," McBride said. "Even before COVID, people were feeling that need. This has just reinforced and deepened that need. For Delawareans, for those in poverty, those struggling through the pandemic, the issues we're talking about aren't abstract." 

Natalia Alamdari covers education for The News Journal. You can reach her at (302) 324-2312 or nalamdari@delawareonline.com.