Sarah McBride: Press Secretary For The Human Rights Campaign Holds On To Hope

An interview with Sarah McBride

LGBT rights activist and Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, Sarah McBride, takes the stage during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia— July 28, 2016 (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

I talked to Sarah McBride, the author of newly released book “Tomorrow Will Be Different,” about being an advocate for trans youth in the context of the Trump Administration, why we have such a hard time talking about death, and what makes us hopeful.

Sarah is the first trans person to address a national political convention and the National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign. Joe Biden also wrote the foreword to her book! So that’s pretty cool…

You can listen to the whole interview here:

Below are lightly edited excerpts of a few moments of our interview.

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When we last spoke, it was a week before the 2016 election. How has this year been for you?

Those were the good old days when the idea of Donald Trump being president was just absurd, not an actual threat. I’m doing okay, the bags under my eyes are a little bit darker after the last year or so of this administration. It’s been a tough year. From the start, this administration, contrary to Donald Trump’s assertions that he would be a friend to the LGBTQ community has just attacked the rights and dignity of LGBTQ people at every turn, particularly transgender youth and transgender people in this country. So it’s been an exhausting year, but I also think a year of incredible resistance where we’ve seen that no president will ever silence our voices or halt the momentum of our movement.

How did you respond to the election?

Right after the election, we were getting reports of increases on suicide hotlines and reports from teachers that there was an increase in bullying in their schools. One of the things we decided to do was that I would film a video message to transgender youth across the country. It was three or four days after the election, and I was scared. I had been of that generation that had come of age under Obama, and my hope was really in many ways shattered.

I struggled with what to talk about, so what I said in that video was that I’ve dealt with a good deal of bullying and harassment, and there was a point in which I came to the conclusion that everyone struggles with some sort of insecurity, with something that society says they should be ashamed of. Whether it’s your sexual orientation, how you look, how you sound, whatever it may be, everyone struggles with those things that society mocks. The amazing thing about LGBTQ people is that we’ve conquered something that society says we should be ashamed of, so what I tried to convey is that the hate comes from the fact that the bullies see our power and are jealous of it because they can’t exercise that same power in their own minds.

What was the response like?

A lot of parents said that they sat in front of their computers with their children and watched the video with their kids. Of course it doesn’t alleviate the pain or it doesn’t eliminate the harm of the discrimination or the bullying, but it at least allows them to understand the power that they have in facing these obstacles. And I think that’s really the story of this past year, that we’ve seen just how powerful we are, just how unstoppable we are when we stand together, when our allies speak out, when we fight, when we call, that we can defeat the politics of discrimination.

Follow Sarah on Human Rights Campaign on Twitter.

Interview // Human Rights / LGBTQ / Politics / Transgender