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Transgender A.U. student leader finds acceptance

Fellow students, Delaware governor embrace Sarah McBride’s transition



‘For my entire life, I’ve wrestled with my gender identity,’ Sarah McBride wrote in a May 1 op-ed column in American University’s student newspaper. (Photo courtesy of McBride)

Sarah McBride says she loves politics and loves her home state of Delaware.

A native of Wilmington, McBride, 21, has been active in Delaware politics since the age of 13 and worked on the 2008 election campaign of Gov. Jack Markell (D). When Markell won the Democratic primary in September 2008, he and his wife Carla invited McBride to introduce the future governor on the stage where he delivered his victory speech.

All of that, McBride points out, unfolded around Tim McBride, the person she informed her fellow students at American University last week that she had officially transitioned from.

“For my entire life, I’ve wrestled with my gender identity,” she wrote in a May 1 op-ed column in the Eagle, American University’s student newspaper. “It was only after the experiences of this year that I was able to come to terms with what had been my deepest secret: I’m transgender.”

In an interview with the Blade this week, McBride said she’s known as long as she can remember that her true gender was that of a female. But she suppressed taking action on that realization out of fear that her longstanding desire to become active in politics and eventually run for public office would be jeopardized if she changed her gender, she said.

“For the longest time my only ambition was to become an elected official and to change the world through that,” she told the Blade. “Those goals and those dreams sort of went hand in hand.”

Tim McBride advanced that goal shortly after beginning as a freshman political science student at American University in 2009. With political experience gained in Delaware as a backdrop, McBride won election to the A.U. student senate before winning election last year as president of the A.U. student government.

She submitted her op-ed column to the Eagle on the day after her term as student president ended and, upon completion of her junior year this spring, with one year to go before her graduation in June 2013.

In the column she noted that she came out as transgender to her parents and closest friends during the winter recess this year.

“Today is the next day of the life I’ve already had, but at the same time, the first day of the life I always knew I wanted to lead,” she said in the column. “Starting on Saturday, I will present as my true self. Going forward, I ask that you use female pronouns (she/her) and my chosen name, Sarah.”

In an interview with the Blade on Wednesday, McBride said the response on campus has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I always knew that I went to an inclusive and accepting school,” she said. “But the outpouring of love and support was so far beyond my expectations. I’ve never been prouder to go to A.U.”

She added, “And I really do hope this experience for our campus is not a blip on the gossip mill. I hope it’s an opportunity to raise awareness for a sustained inclusion and awareness of trans students.”

McBride said she considers herself privileged coming from a supportive, upper-income family that had the means to send her to a supportive university in the nation’s capital. Many transgender young people encounter far less supportive families and face discrimination and prejudice at every turn.

Among her goals is to work with the transgender and LGBT community to fight discrimination. She said her dreams to advance that goal by becoming involved in electoral politics in her home state were boosted in March when she came out to Gov. Markell and his wife, First Lady Carla Markell.

“They were incredible,” she said. “They were amazing. “They’re two of the best people I know and beyond my parents they are some of my biggest mentors and supporters. When I told them it was unconditional love from them. They said they were just as proud of me and that they were there for me 100 percent.”

She said other political leaders in the state have been similarly supportive. Although as Tim McBride and now as Sarah she has been known as a loyal Democratic Party activist, McBride said, “All of the active Republicans I know have sent me messages of love and support as well.”

McBride said she has accumulated enough college credits to spend the fall semester working as an intern with the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, where she hopes to help the organization elect openly LGBT people to public office throughout the country, including two openly gay candidates running for office in Delaware.

She would complete her senior year at A.U. next spring. She’s considering law school or graduate school sometime in the future, with politics still on the horizon.

“This entire experience has taught me that the goal of changing the world is a good goal,” she said, adding that seeking to become an elected official should be a means rather than an end to “improving and changing your community and your world…So that’s sort of been my readjustment of my life in terms of my dreams and my ambitions.”

Among those who have helped guide and mentor her in the process of transitioning has been Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, McBride said.

“She’s going to be a real powerhouse in whatever she does,” Keisling told the Blade. “She’s very politically savvy, very politically connected. I’m very excited not only that she’s transitioning but she’s transitioning with a real strong sense of social justice and political acumen.”

Keisling added, “So I’m hopeful for real big things for Sarah.”

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Chaos erupts at Loudoun County school board meeting over trans students rights proposal

Two people arrested, two others injured



(Screen capture from Loudoun County Public Schools public domain)

The Loudoun County School Board abruptly ended its meeting Tuesday as chaos erupted after parents who were against the school district’s implementation of Policy 8040 failed to observe rules regarding disruptions and decorum.

Loudoun Now reports Vice Chair Atoosa Reaser made the motion to curtail public comment about an hour after that portion of the meeting began. A brawl then broke out between members of the public, and Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department deputies were called to clear the room. 

Two people were arrested, and two people also suffered minor injuries. The names of those who were taken into custody and injured have not been made public.

The school board resumed its meeting at 6:30 p.m. after it ended the public comment session and deputies cleared the room. The school board entered into closed session to meet with legal counsel and discuss negotiations involving a bid award.

In light of the events that transpired at the school board meeting, a group of LGBTQ groups in neighboring Fairfax County in a statement called upon prominent community members to condemn the anti-transgender hate in Loudoun County.

“A coalition of organizations based in Northern Virginia is calling on local officials … to condemn the rise of anti-LGBTQIA+ hate, in particular animosity towards transgender and gender-expansive students, on display in Loudoun County,” reads the statement 

“In addition, the coalition is asking for the denouncement of support for this hate from other local groups, including the Fairfax County Republican Committee, the Family Foundation of Virginia and the Family Research Council,” it adds. “Finally, the members of these organizations are requesting visible displays of support for LGBTQIA+ students, particularly trans and gender-expansive students, in both words and deeds.”

More than 300 people attended the school board meeting, with many of them opposing Policy 8040 which would allow transgender students to use their preferred name and pronouns regardless of the name and gender in their permanent education record. The proposed policy would also not require them to provide any substantiating evidence.

Parents also expressed their support for Policy 8040 during the public comment session.

They spoke in favor of inclusivity and equality in the Loudoun County School District.

Parents who were against the policy cited the need to respect biology and privacy as their arguments. In addition, some speakers, including former state Sen. Dick Black expressed anger at the previous school year’s events such as the suspension of physical education teacher Tanner Cross after he refused to refer to trans students using their preferred pronouns.  

“The crowd repeatedly cheered public speakers who lashed out at school board members and denounced the plan that would provide bathroom and locker room access based on a student’s gender identity,” WTOP News reports.

Only 51 of the 249 speakers who had signed up for public comment ended up speaking before Reaser’s motion was passed.

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Pride flags vandalized, stolen in Loudoun County town

‘Bigoted efforts to terrorize members of our community will not stand’



Vandals destroyed or stole several Pride flags that had been displayed at homes in Lovettsville, Va. (Screen capture via WUSA9))

Vandals this week destroyed or stole Pride flags that Lovettsville residents had displayed on their homes.

Calvin Woehrie told WUSA the vandals used a blade to slash the Pride flag that was hanging from his house. The D.C. television station reported the vandals also targeted Woehrie’s neighbors who are a lesbian couple with four children.

The Loudoun County’s Sheriff’s Office said the vandals damaged five Pride flags from three homes and they stole two more. A spokesperson for the Loudoun County’s Sheriff’s Office told WUSA the vandalism is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

“I wanted to address events that happened over the weekend, that are deplorable and devastating to the entire community,” said Lovettsville Mayor Nate Fontaine in a letter he sent to town residents on June 16. “Over the weekend, there was destruction of property that specifically targeted our LGBTQ community. To make this even more heinous is that the destruction of property was done during Pride Month. To have property destroyed targeting members of our community is horrible and can be frightening for those targeted.” 

“For the individuals who committed these crimes, know that your bigoted efforts to terrorize members of our community will not stand,” added Fontaine. “We are working closely with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and this has also been added as an agenda item for our June 24th Council meeting.”

Glenn Youngkin, the Republican nominee to succeed Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, on Saturday described the vandalism as “absolutely unacceptable.”

“Whether someone is voicing an opinion or flying a flag, as Virginians — and as human beings — we must be respectful of one another,” wrote Youngkin in a Facebook post.

“Politicians always seem to be pitting neighbor against neighbor, but I am committed to bringing people together around our shared values, like treating others the same way you want to be treated,” he added. “We must all do better by respecting others’ right to live their lives freely, without being targeted because of who they are.”

WUSA reported Lovettsville residents bought Pride flags to replace the ones that had been vandalized and stolen.

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Transgender man murdered in Va.

EJ Boykin was shot outside Lynchburg store on June 14



EJ Boykin (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

A transgender man was murdered in Lynchburg, Va., on June 14.

The News and Advance, a local newspaper, reported EJ Boykin, who was also known as Novaa Watson, was shot outside a Family Dollar store on the city’s Fort Avenue at around 6 p.m. Boykin passed away at Lynchburg General Hospital a short time later.

A spokesperson for the Lynchburg Police Department told the News and Advance the shooting may have been the result of a domestic dispute. Authorities added there is no evidence to currently suggest the shooting was a hate crime based on Boykin’s gender identity.

Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents reported Boykin was born and raised in Baltimore and was a student at Morgan State University. The blog said Boykin celebrated his 23rd Birthday on June 10, four days before his murder.

Tori Cooper, the director of community engagement for the Human Rights Campaign’s Transgender Justice Initiative, in a statement notes Boykin is the fifth trans man reported killed in 2021. HRC notes at least 29 trans or gender non-conforming people are known to have been murdered so far this year.

“The level of fatal violence we’ve recorded this year is higher than we’ve ever seen,” said Cooper. “All of these individuals deserved to live. We must strike at the roots of racism and transphobia, and continue to work toward justice and equality for trans and gender non-conforming people.”

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