As 2016 comes to a close, there is no doubt that this year was difficult for many in the LGBTQ and allied community. After a year of such celebration and momentous progress in 2015, 2016 was a shocking wake-up call to many about the realities that LGBTQ people face. From the rise in anti-LGBTQ legislation to the horrific shooting at Pulse, from the incidents of anti-transgender violence to the election of a presidential ticket that threatened to undermine equality and justice, we know that our job is more important now than ever before.
However, through these difficult times, we witnessed countless moments of inspiration. Throughout the year, time and time again, we saw people stand up and do what was right. Whether they were celebrities, politicians, a friend or just an acquaintance, we saw people stand up for equality and inspire us all. Their stories made us cry, gave us hope and reminded us that love will conquer hate.
A highlight of 2016 was watching HRC’s own National Press Secretary Sarah McBride take the stage at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in July. McBride made history as the first transgender person to address a major political party’s convention.
“My name is Sarah McBride, and I am a proud transgender American,” she bravely announced in her speech. McBride shared her personal journey as a transgender woman, reflecting on the events that made her such an amazing advocate for equality, and calling on the country to join her in the fight.
McBride’s inclusion at the DNC was a significant milestone for the LGBTQ and allied community, sending a strong message that transgender people and their voices matter.
“People must understand that even as we face daily harassment, tragic violence, and an onslaught of anti-LGBTQ political attacks across the country, we are real people merely seeking to be treated with the dignity and respect every person deserves,” McBride said in a statement ahead of her speech.
While we at HRC are fortunate to call McBride our coworker and friend, on that night on the DNC stage she became something much more: She was a beacon of hope to transgender youth. Following her speech McBride met with and heard from transgender youth and parents and family members of transgender and gender-expansive children from across the country. She received an overwhelming outpouring of support and was even included in Cosmopolitan’s Best Moments for Women in 2016.
Thank you, Sarah, for bravely sharing your story with us and with millions of people around the world. Your courage and story fuels our fight and we are proud to stand with you on the right side of history.
Follow along with hrc.org/blog in the coming days as we recognize the people who inspired us and gave us hope, courage and strength in 2016.