Before Hillary Clinton could take the stage Thursday night in Philadelphia to give a historic speech, a Wilmington, Delaware, native made some history of her own when she stood at the podium and said, "My name is Sarah McBride, and I am a proud transgender American."
McBride became the first openly transgender person to address a major political party convention. The American University graduate came out as transgender four years ago while serving as student body president. Today she is the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, and says that a lot of work remains on behalf of the transgender community.
"Will we be a nation where there's only one way to love, only one way to look, and only one way to live?" McBride said on stage Thursday night. "Or, will we be a nation where everyone has the freedom to live openly and equally; a nation that's 'Stronger Together?' That's the question in this election."
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McBride said the struggle for equality became more urgent for her when she learned that her future husband, a transgender man named Andy, was battling cancer.
"Even in the face of his terminal illness — this 28-year-old — he never wavered in his commitment to our cause and his belief that this country can change," McBride said.
The couple married in 2014, and Andy passed away just five days later.
"Knowing Andy left me profoundly changed," she said. "But more than anything else, his passing taught me that every day matters when it comes to building a world where every person can live their life to the fullest."
McBride has been a champion for transgender rights. After coming out in her college’s student-run newspaper, The Eagle, she later became the first out trans woman to work at the White House when she interned in the Office of Public Engagement. Several months ago she took a viral selfie inside a women’s restroom in North Carolina, where a controversial law enacted in the state bans transgender people from using government building bathrooms in line with their gender identities.
The spotlight continued to shine on McBride Thursday night at the Democratic National Convention, and she used the attention to continue to work for her cause.
"Today in America, LGBTQ people are still targeted by hate that lives in both laws and in hearts,” she said. "Many still struggle just to get by. But I believe tomorrow can be different. Tomorrow, we can be respected and protected -- especially if Hillary Clinton is our president. And that's why I'm proud to stand here and say that I'm with her."