Meet Sarah McBride. If Elected, She’d Be the First Openly Trans Member of Congress.
Written by GRB on 10/07/2023
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.
Amidst the ongoing attacks on trans rights in the United States, we end today’s show with Democratic state Senator Sarah McBride of Delaware. She is the highest-ranking trans elected official the United States and is now running to be the first openly transgender member of Congress. She has vowed to address criminal justice reform, abortion rights, gun violence. This is an ad from her campaign, launched in recent weeks.
SEN. SARAH McBRIDE: I’m running for Congress. My commitment is to the people in Delaware who aren’t seen, who don’t shout the loudest or fund political campaigns, parents busy raising their children, seniors worried about paying for prescription drugs, working people struggling to keep up. Everyone deserves a member of Congress who sees them and who respects them.
AMY GOODMAN: For more, we go to Wilmington, Delaware, where we’re joined by Democratic state Senator Sarah McBride, also the author of her memoir, Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality, which Joe Biden wrote the foreword to. She was the first out trans intern at the White House during the Obama-Biden administration, and Biden credits her with shaping his views on transgender rights. He spoke about her during the largest Pride celebration in the White House last month.
We welcome you to Democracy Now!, state Senator Sarah McBride. We just finished talking about this devastating decision by the federal court for the trans community in Tennessee. If you can respond to that, and then talk about why you’re running for Delaware’s open House seat?
SEN. SARAH McBRIDE: Sure. Well, thanks for having me on, Amy. Good morning.
The decision that you just mentioned is a hastily written decision that, as Chase already mentioned, admits that it may be getting it wrong. It runs contrary to decisions we’ve seen across the country at the district and appellate court level.
Ultimately, these laws that seek to restrict access to healthcare, medically necessary healthcare for transgender people, the laws we’re seeing censoring topics in schools, they are all part of a cruel and concerted agenda that is meant to distract from the fact that Republicans have absolutely no policy agenda to address the needs of workers and families in this country. This is part of an ongoing strategy that the far-right wing has attempted to utilize throughout generations, which is to seek to divide and conquer. And trans people are their new target.
But, ultimately, I think what we’ve seen is that in 2022, and I believe in 2024 what we will see, is that these types of attacks ring hollow with voters. They don’t speak to what’s actually keeping them up at night. And, ultimately, they won’t be able to win at the ballot box on them.
AMY GOODMAN: So, if you do become Delaware’s only congressmember, what could you do about this?
SEN. SARAH McBRIDE: Sure. Well, I’m not running just to be the transgender member of Congress. I’m not running to just make history. I’m running to make a difference on all of the issues that matter to Delawareans of every background up and down the state. I’m running to guarantee affordable early childhood education to Delaware families. I’m running to build on our progress that I led here in Delaware passing paid family and medical leave in the Delaware state Senate to make sure that we have as robust a policy as possible. I’m running to pass gun safety measures and to protect reproductive rights.
But, yes, diversity in government is critical in combating these anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ attacks, because, ultimately, when you’re not at the table, then it’s much easier for you to become part of the menu.
And let the pettiness of these far-right-wing politicians contrast with our focus on progress. Let their cruelty contrast with our compassion. Let the diversity of our humanity be more fully seen in the halls of Congress and to help reinforce that trans people are part of the rich fabric of America, that we have something to offer to the table, that we are talented, thoughtful, effective legislators. And I think that goes a long way in filling the gap in people’s minds around who trans people are, because that gap ultimately is one of the ways that the far-right wing is able to pursue these attacks without them being politically fatal.
AMY GOODMAN: This was an other weekend of, well, devastating climate and gun violence. Let’s take on gun violence first in the United States. As Delaware’s only congressmember, if you win, what would you be doing about this?
SEN. SARAH McBRIDE: Sure. Well, one of the reasons why I ran for the Delaware state Senate is I believed that Delaware could do more to lead the nation in combating gun violence. I was proud to be a co-sponsor and help to pass the most significant gun safety package in Delaware state history, legislation that included in an assault weapons ban, a ban on high-capacity magazines, a reform of the blanket gun dealer and gun manufacturer liability shield that existed, that said even if these gun dealers and gun manufacturers demonstrated negligence, they couldn’t be held to account in our courts.
I’m running for Congress to make that sure we’re delivering that at the federal level, to reform the liability shield that we see, to pass an assault weapons ban at the national level. In a small state like Delaware, we can pass that kind of policy at the state level, but it’s very easy for assault weapons to come over our borders from a place like Pennsylvania, where they are still legal. And so, ultimately, we need federal action to address gun violence. I’ll be a strong, unwavering voice in favor of those types of commonsense measures in the U.S. House of Representatives. And I believe that with a growing number of senators that recognize that we have to reform Senate rules and eliminate the filibuster, the next time Democrats have control of all three — or, both branches of government, all three — the presidency, Senate and the House — we’ll be able to pass measures like an assault weapons ban.
AMY GOODMAN: President Biden signed the Defense of Marriage Act, supported it in 1996, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. But he also then, as vice president, came out ahead of President Obama in saying that he supported marriage equality. He says you have shaped his view on trans rights. Talk about your conversations and how you think you’ve done that, and what you think he could do at this point.
SEN. SARAH McBRIDE: Well, I would never claim credit for anyone’s evolution on trans rights or anyone’s support of trans rights, let alone the president of the United States. I think this president has a big heart, as evidenced by the fact that he really led President Obama on the issue of marriage and was an early supporter of trans rights before it had even entered the consciousness politically, calling it a civil rights issue back in 2013. And so, this president has led long before his current term on these issues.
I also think, in many ways, credit goes to Beau, his son, our late attorney general here in Delaware, who I worked for on his campaigns and then also worked with to pass a landmark nondiscrimination bill here in Delaware in 2013 to protect the LGBTQ community. I think a lot of credit also goes to Beau because I think this president feels closer to Beau and Beau’s legacy when he’s carrying on his work, and I think he sees trans rights as part of Beau’s legacy and part of Beau’s work.
This administration, from day one, has made clear that they will use all of the levers of power of government at their disposal to seek to protect the LGBTQ community. Of course, sometimes that takes time. We saw that with the Trump administration, their desire to implement retrograde policies without proper process resulted in those policies being overturned by the courts. And so, sometimes it takes time. But this administration, from day one, said, “We’re going to implement the Supreme Court’s Bostock decision that says sex protections include LGBTQ people. We’re going to put forward briefs in these challenges to these anti-trans cases.” And the Justice Department has stepped up and said that these policies that we talked about earlier are both wrong [inaudible], and have sided with the LGBTQ community in those court cases.
And obviously, over the next several months and years, we’ll see more from this administration to step up and to stand out for trans people’s rights, for all people’s rights across this country. But it’s really, I think, critical that we recognize the power that the executive branch has in standing up for trans people and how significant it would be for our community if, in 2025, we don’t have a pro-equality president. That would [inaudible] —
AMY GOODMAN: Sarah, we’re going to have to leave it there. Democratic state Senator Sarah McBride, running for Delaware’s open House seat. I’m Amy Goodman. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. Thanks for joining us.