Sarah McBride Made History at the DNC As the First Transgender Woman to Address a National Convention

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Photo: SAUL LOEB

Sarah McBride made history as soon as she took to the stage and spoke her first words on the last day of the Democratic National Convention.

With the simple declaration, “I am a proud transgender American,” McBride, a 25-year-old press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, became the first trans person to speak at a national party convention.

New York representative Sean Patrick Maloney, an openly gay congressman, introduced McBride during a portion of the convention dedicated to the LGBT community. That focus stood in stark contrast to the Republican National Convention, which adopted a party platform that advocates for overturning same-sex marriage and supports the discredited “conversion therapy.”

In her speech, McBride referenced the social progress that has been made in regard to transgender rights, but cautioned about the work that remains.

“Will we be a nation where there is only one way to love, only one way to look, and only one way to live?” McBride asked the audience. “Or will we be a nation where everyone has the freedom to live freely and openly? A nation that’s stronger together? That is the question in this election.”

Earlier this year, McBride also made headlines after she took a selfie inside a women’s restroom in North Carolina, a move in defiance of the controversial HB2 law, which requires people to use the bathroom that corresponds with their sex at birth.

McBride has long been involved in political activism, but often feared that her dreams and identity were at odds, she told Time in an interview prior to her speaking at the convention. Though she was helping others, she didn’t feel complete, she said.

So she came out to her fellow college students via an op-ed in the campus newspaper.

“People forget our humanity,” McBride told Time. “Behind the dialogues and debates are real people that hurt when they are made fun of, that hurt when they are targeted for discrimination and that have the same dreams and aspirations as everyone else.”

McBride also shared her own love story with Andy Cray, whom she was married to for a few days before he passed away from cancer. Cray, a transgender man, was also an advocate working on LGBT health issues in D.C.

“Knowing Andy left me profoundly changed,” McBride told the audience at the convention. “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. Hillary Clinton understands the urgency of our fight.”