Transgender state senator Sarah McBride (Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)
Trailblazing senator Sarah McBride has delivered a moving tribute to her late husband Andy, describing him as the biggest influence on her political career.
McBride made history when she was elected to the Delaware state senate in November, making her the first transgender person in the United States to achieve such a feat.
The trailblazing Democrat reflected on her incredible journey to public office in an interview with Forbes, where she opened up about her formative years.
In the interview, McBride reflected on her relationship with her late husband, who she met while interning at the White House during Barack Obama’s presidency.
Andy, a transgender man, contacted McBride on Facebook a few weeks after they met at a White House Pride reception in 2012. In a message, he asked her out and said he thought they would get along “swimmingly”.
“Typically, I wouldn’t respond to a Facebook message like that,” McBride said. “But I knew we had a bunch of mutual friends. And I thought, anyone my age who says the word swimmingly is good in my book.”
Sarah McBride married her husband four days before he died from cancer.
Tragically, just a year into their relationship, Andy was diagnosed with cancer. He went through a turbulent few months of treatment, which included chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
Finally, the cancer was gone – but just eight months later, he discovered that the cancer was back, and it was terminal.
After getting his terminal diagnosis, Andy asked McBride to marry him. He tragically died just four days after their wedding.
I left that experience with a profound sense of the urgency of the issues we face, and the preciousness of time.
“When we ask people to sit back and allow for slow conversations to take place before we ensure them opportunity and treat them with dignity, we are asking people to watch their one life pass by without the fairness and opportunity they deserve,” Sarah McBride told Forbes.
“I saw that in Andy’s life as a transgender man, who had come out at a relatively young age and who should have had three-quarters of his life as his authentic self, but because of circumstances outside of his control, he had less than a quarter.”
McBride added: “I left that experience with a profound sense of the urgency of the issues we face, and the preciousness of time.”
Elsewhere in the wide-ranging interview, McBride opened up about the first moment she realised she was transgender.
Aged 10, she was watching the NBC sitcom Just Shoot Me with her mother when a guest character, played by cis actor turned anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy, was revealed to be trans.
McBride asked her mother if characters like the woman in Just Shoot Me existed in real life, and she said they did.
“I thought: ‘Oh, my God, I’m going to have to tell you this someday, and you are going to be so disappointed.”
She said the moment could have been “life-affirming”, but it was instead “soul-crushing” because the character in Just Shoot Me was played for laughs.
McBride said that she knew every time the laugh track played on the show that there “wouldn’t be a place” for her in the world.
“And even if I couldn’t personally benefit… I think I got involved in politics because I thought if I could help others in their pursuit of authenticity and happiness, that it would somehow fill the incompleteness and the pain in my own life,” she said.