Politician’s powerful rallying cry for trans equality at WorldPride

Sarah McBride, transgender US Senator is in Australia for Sydney WorldPride
Images: Sydney WorldPride, ABC

US Senator Sarah McBride has delivered a powerful call for transgender equality ahead of this week’s Sydney WorldPride Human Rights Conference.

The Democrat was elected in Delaware in 2020, becoming the US’ first openly transgender US state senator.

This week, Senator McBride is in Australia and is one of dozens of speakers at WorldPride’s three-day Human Rights Conference that began on Wednesday.

The longtime LGBTQIA+ activist told ABC’s Q+A this week that public office is “the greatest professional privilege” of her life.

“As a young person, the idea that a trans person could serve in public office seemed so impossible to me that it was almost incomprehensible,” she said.

“I’ve had the opportunity to not only witness that kind of change firsthand, but live it.”

However Senator McBride acknowledged queer Americans are facing “an exceptional backlash to the progress we’ve made on LGBTQ rights writ large, but specifically on trans rights.”

“This backlash is really targeting, in particular, transgender young people,” she said.

“Across [the US], particularly in states that are controlled by Republican politicians, they’ve decided to score political points on the backs of vulnerable young people.

“It is cruel, unconscionable and dangerous. Lives are literally on the line right now.”

‘A constant feeling of homesickness’

Senator McBride said most people who aren’t trans don’t know what it feels like to have a gender identity differing from their sex assigned at birth.

“When we’re talking about sexual orientation, most people understand what it feels like to love and to lust. So they can enter the conversation with an analogous experience,” she said.

“For me, the closest thing that I could compare being trans and in the closet to was just a constant feeling of homesickness.

“Fortunately I was able to alleviate that homesickness. I was able to find home in myself and in my soul.

“But as much as we can find home in ourselves, we still yearn for a home in our physical world, where we can be loved and embraced as who we are.”

‘Every time they come for us, we grow stronger’

But Senator McBride said she’s confident “we’ll continue to move equality forward and we will beat this backlash” in her lifetime.

“The story of the LGBTQ community around the world is the story of people opening hearts and changing minds, even in the face of hatred,” she said.

“We built movements and structures, in the face of unimaginable loss, through the HIV and AIDS epidemic. [Achieving marriage equality] would have seemed impossible decades before.

“Every single time they come for us, we end up growing stronger. Because the moment they come for us, the moment they start this conversation, it might work politically for a brief period of time.

“But once people start to make the connection between a vulnerable community and humanity, it ends up starting the clock on the effectiveness of that politics.

“They end up sowing the seeds of the destruction of the politics of hate that they seek to implement.

“I’m hopeful because of the change I’ve witnessed and experienced, but I’m more hopeful because of the community that I’m a part of that has continued to turn pain into progress.”

Penny Wong opens Sydney WorldPride Human Rights Conference

Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong delivered an opening address to the Human Rights Conference on Wednesday.

“In too many countries, LGBTQIA+ people experience targeted persecution and discrimination,” she said in a video.

Over decades, Australia has scrapped discriminatory laws. And since 2012, Senator Wong said, thirteen countries had also decriminalised homosexuality.

Senator Wong said this was made possible by human rights advocates’ “tireless efforts to advance tolerance, diversity, equality and social justice”.

“We can’t just take the world as it is. We have to do what we can to shape it for the better, for all of us,” she said.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Mark Butler also announced a 10-year national health plan focused on LGBTQIA+ communities, including $26 million to improve healthcare.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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