by Prianka Srinivasan
Sarah McBride is no stranger to the fight for equality.
As HRC’s National Press Secretary, McBride regularly takes charge of campaigns to fuel the LGBTQ equality movement across the country. In 2016, she became the first openly transgender person to address a major party convention when she spoke at the Democratic National Convention. And as a board member for Equality Delaware, she advocated for the state’s gender identity protections and antidiscrimination policies that became law in 2013.
In her upcoming memoir, Tomorrow Will Be Different, which came out March 6, McBride reflects upon the ever-growing strength of the trans equality movement, woven with her journey through loss and adversity to become the nation’s leading transgender activist.
McBride recently spoke to Equality about her book, the fight for equality and the unexpected power of vulnerability.
You’re only 27. What inspired you to write a memoir at such a young age?
Throughout our movement, young voices have been central drivers of the change we’ve seen. And even though I’m young, I’ve experienced quite a lot, particularly in the six years since I came out as transgender. From the whirlwind relationship with my late husband Andy to standing on stage at the Democratic convention in 2016, I’ve gained a deep understanding of both the urgency of this fight and the possibility of progress. After reading my book, my desire is for others to feel the same sense of passion and hopefulness that I do.
Why did you choose Tomorrow Will Be Different as your book title?
The title draws on a line from my speech at the convention. I wanted to convey a sense of optimism, but also of responsibility. Tomorrow is always different. Sometimes it’s equality moving forward, but other times it’s a negative development. It’s the passage of a discriminatory law or the death of a loved one. Tomorrow isn’t always better, but I do believe that with hard work and compassion, we can make more tomorrows better than today.
You made national headlines when you came out as transgender while serving as student body president at American University. Can you tell us about this time in your life?
I was incredibly scared when I came out. Like many LGBTQ people, I worried that my dreams and my identity were mutually exclusive. But I was blessed with a supportive family, a loving group of friends, and a campus community that embraced me without hesitation. It was an early sign for me that things were changing and that with personal stories and greater visibility, we could help transform this country. At the same time, it was abundantly clear to me that my experience — of support, love, and acceptance — wasn’t the universal experience for LGBTQ people across the country and around the world. The sense that it shouldn’t be a privilege to keep your family, secure housing, and be safe from violence led me into advocacy.
What inspires you in your work?
Without a doubt, meeting young trans people across the country lifts my spirits and rejuvenates my hope. When I was young, being transgender seemed impossible and being transgender while pursuing our dreams seemed incomprehensible. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of trans youth around this country who are both living their truth and dreaming big dreams all at the same time. The mere fact that these kids exist today demonstrates how far we’ve come.
You have committed yourself to being open and honest about who you are. Why do you think sharing your story and beliefs is so important?
I talk a lot in the book about the power of not just authenticity, but also vulnerability. I think in just laying it all out on the table, in saying this is who I am, this is what I fear, this is what I want, we are able to bridge significant divides. And those shared hopes and dreams, they span ideology, gender, race, religion, and geography. It may not be enough, but it is an important starting point.
Do you have a message for young LGBTQ people today who may be struggling with their identity?
I think it is just so important for every young LGBTQ person to know that even if they feel lonely, there are millions of people who see them, who love them, and who are fighting to make sure that they are treated with the dignity and respect that every person deserves. They need to know that they are beautiful, they are worthy, and they are powerful.
Sarah McBride’s book Tomorrow Will be Different is out now.
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