DNC NEWS: HRC Staffer Will Be First Openly Transgender Convention Speaker

Plus: Activists are planning a peaceful blockade as anti-LGBTQ Westboro Baptist Church protesters plan to picket Mazzoni Center.

Photo by Jared Brey

Photo by Jared Brey

On Thursday, Sarah McBride will be the first openly transgender person to speak at a Democratic or Republican national convention.

Sarah McBride, the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, will be the first transgender convention speaker for a major American political party. “I’m honored for this opportunity to share my story and to be the first transgender person to speak at a major party convention,” McBride said in a press statement. “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 — also a Trans United for Hillary steering committee member — will speak on Thursday, the last day of the DNC, on issues pertaining to the recent triumph, obstacles, and policies affecting the transgender community. The DNC has seen the highest number of openly transgender delegates — 27 — it has ever had. This increased visibility of transgender representation at the DNC is in stark contrast to what’s been called the GOP’s most anti-LGBTQ party platform in history at last week’s Republican National Convention. The current DNC proposed platform calls for comprehensive nondiscrimination laws, active opposition of anti-LGBTQ bills, combatting anti-transgender violence, and a more global call to action for LGBTQ equality.

Today, members of the community will peacefully block Westboro Baptist Church protesters from picketing the Mazzoni Center.

Westboro Baptist Church, a controversial anti-LGBTQ group, plans to protest transgender individuals who frequent the Mazzoni Center. As word began to spread that they were making an appearance in Philly during the DNC, local organizers banded together to plan a “Great Wall of Love” to peacefully shield the protesters from disturbing the LGBTQ individuals who seek mental, clinical, and social support at the facility. “We plan to shut down hate with love,” said Deja Lynn Alvarez, a trans activist who helped to organize the event. “We the organizers of the Great Wall of Love want to show the world our community is made up of love that isn’t what every community church and family is made up of.”

The event is scheduled for 1 p.m. outside Mazzoni, at 809 Locust Street. Organizers are informing those who plan to participate that this isn’t a counter-protest to Westboro Baptist Church, and therefore they do not encourage participants to directly engage with the insensitive remarks that are likely to be made. Mazzoni Center, local city officials, and the Philadelphia Police Department has been informed of the event, but are not actively involved with the operations of it.