by Fran Withrow Graphic Illustration by Doug Dobey
Sarah McBride is a transgender woman who is taking the world by storm. She has already written a book, interned at the White House, campaigned for the Governor of Delaware, and helped pass Delaware’s Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act of 2013. She is the first openly transgender person to speak at a major party convention, a landmark event which occurred during the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Currently the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, I recently learned she is running for political office for the state of Delaware.
Sarah McBride is just 29 years old.
McBride courageously came out as a transgender woman while she was at American University. Initially fearful of the backlash, she instead found massive support from family and friends. “Tomorrow Will Be Different,” is her story of coming out, falling in love, entering the political arena, and fighting for transgender equality.
McBride became interested in politics at an early age. She campaigned for Beau Biden, Attorney General of Delaware, and for Delaware Governor Jack Markell. As a White House intern, she also connected with Beau’s father, Joe Biden. They all supported her as she advocated for equal rights for the LGBTQ community, both nationally and in her home state.
While in the White House, she met Andy Cray, an attorney who was a transgender man. Cray fought for transgender rights and was instrumental in ensuring that nondiscrimination rights were included as part of the Affordable Care Act. Cray and McBride fell in love and were married in 2014. Four days later, Cray died of cancer at age 28.
McBride could have easily shut down, but she was determined to continue helping the LGBTQ community fight for equal rights under the law. Transgender people in most states still have few protections. Simply for being who they are, they can be fired from their jobs, denied housing, and experience discrimination by health care providers. McBride and Cray worried about this during his cancer treatment: would doctors and nurses accept them as they were? The vulnerability and fear faced by transgender people needing medical care is heartrending to contemplate.
McBride has a lot to teach the cisgender population. I appreciate how she deigned to reveal her former name and explained that it is no one’s business whether she has had “bottom surgery” or not. Her description of how difficult it is for transgender men and women to go to the gym, use a restroom, or dress in a locker room is eye-opening. They gather their courage every time they go out in public.
McBride’s book offers hope that tomorrow will, indeed, be different, that people will no longer need fear being who they are, and that basic rights will be enjoyed by all. Here in Richmond, you can learn more about being an ally to the transgender community. TIES (Transgender Information and Empowerment Summit) hosts an event yearly in October. I went to the most recent one at the University of Richmond and found it excellent. Please join me next year!
“Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and The Fight for Trans Equality”
By Sarah McBride