Who is Sarah McBride?
Sarah McBride is a trans-identified male, previously known as Timothy McBride, and currently a member of the Delaware Senate. He is also the guy that Posie Parker and Julia Long confronted when he was National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign.
McBride mentions very little about growing up in his memoir, not even his former name, but because he already had a public profile before he ‘transitioned’ there is still a plethora of media about his burgeoning political career, including this piece about his election to President of the Student Government at American University (AU), based in Washington DC.
Ride with McBride
The most revealing video though is the one below, ostensibly produced to endorse a political ally, but clearly nothing more than his own promotional material. Particularly nauseating is the Partridgesque singalong in the car, and the lingering over the lyric: Man, I feel like a woman.
He also congratulates himself on the ‘open gender housing policy’ that he implemented at the AU. When he arrives at his destination, he is greeted by a group of acolytes. A party is implied as they bundle into the car. Ooh, he’s a lot of fun, you know!
The final bit is him to camera, the woman he presumably is endorsing getting only a walk-on part, and he tells us: ‘If you can ride with McBride, then you can be in with Finn.’ Which really makes it all about him – him, as the gatekeeper.
The book is called Tomorrow Will Be Different – Love, Loss and The Fight for Trans Equality, the covered adorned with blue and pink eggs and a yellow love heart on top. An egg, for those who don’t know, is a metaphor for an ‘unhatched’ trans person.
I did wonder whether it was ghostwritten as the text is so devoid of personal details, but perhaps McBride wanted it to be what it is; a political manifesto filled with propaganda. Many of the segments are in fact already posted in the public domain so presumably it was written by him, or else a series of journalists.
Published in 2018, its foreword is written by President Biden, then ex-Vice President. On his first day in office in January 2021 Biden prioritised the politics the LGBTQ+ lobby with his first Executive Order. As his Presidency continues trans activists continue to ascend in his Administration with Rachel Levine, a man who transitioned late in life, now Assistant Secretary for Health. Levine has been busy promoting hormone use for both children and adults.
And of course recently The White House celebrated ‘Lesbian Visibility’ with the help of Levine and Social Clymer.
Joe Biden had been aware of McBride since his ‘coming out’ in 2012 and describes him as reminding him of ‘all the people who came before her who lived their secrets until death’ and also says he considers McBride ‘a Biden’ (page viii).
Biden also takes an opportunity to name drop his own foundation and promised it would focus on LGBTQ equality (the Foundation folded, however, after he announced his decision to run in 2019). He also makes this curious statement:
As a country, we need to reject the false distinction between social inequality and economic inequality, for any barrier to good jobs, safe schools, or basic health care is inequality one and the same.page xiii
He appears to be saying that rich people with so-called ‘marginalised identities’ face exactly the same barriers as those without wealth. He also repeats what he has said very publicly, that he considers transgender equality as the ‘civil rights issue of our time’ and key to ‘freeing the soul of America’.
Finally Biden recommends the book to parents and teachers of ‘transgender’ children, which is odd since McBride dwells only very momentarily on his own childhood.
McBride’s introduction – This is the world we will help build
McBride begins with his hatchling moment – i.e. the moment he decided whether or not to post the announcement on Facebook (a shortened version was later posted as a news story in several places) as he prepared to step down from his role as President of the student body at AU. He was 21 years old.
Then the bombardment with statistics begins, quoting from the report Injustice at Every Turn from the National LGBTQ Task Force. You know the sort of thing: more likely to get fired, more likely to be homeless, more likely to commit suicide (41% attempted). Despite knowing all these things, McBride still pressed post. Brave lad. According to McBride ‘every single one of the messages he received was full of love and support,’ so it turns out I got my tiny violin out for nothing.
Not only is the response complete blanket approval, but his fraternity brothers turn up in person to hug him just minutes later. Another is eager to get the story into the student newspaper, The Eagle, the following day, asking if he wants to change his name and pronouns immediately (a request already made in McBride’s statement). McBride claims he thought it might be a bit self-indulgent to include it in The Eagle, but couldn’t pass up the ‘opportunity to educate’ (page 5).
He also claims that his phone blew up with media requests from outside of the AU and goes to great pains to emphasise the joyous reaction, saying that one student had described it like winning a sports championship. He saw his announcement as a political statement on behalf of the AU, but fails to corroborate how the institute formally responded, or even if they responded (they currently have him in the montage on their home page so they clearly came onboard at some point).
Chapter 1 – “I’m transgender.”
McBride alleges that he first heard the word transgender when he was 10 years old, which would make the year 2000, since he was born in 1990. I call bullshit on that, because although the word likely came into usage following the publication of Leslie Feinberg’s Transgender Warriors, published in 1997, it didn’t come into more common use until at least 2014, when Laverne Cox made the cover of Time Magazine.
He says that he first heard the word from his mother, whom he describes as a ‘warm and friendly woman around the age of fifty at the time’ (page 9) after he asked ‘Can people really change their gender?’
Yes, they’re called transgender. Or something like that.page 9
Unless mom was reading Feinberg she really wouldn’t have heard this word in the year 2000. Indeed, later in the chapter, when he tells her his decision to transition, he says ‘she wouldn’t have the slightest idea what gender identity meant’ (page 26).
The only incidence of supposed gender dysphoria he recounts is that of dressing as a Disney princess at the house of two girls who lived across the road and enjoying Halloween dress up. More believably though was an early obsession with the White House and claims from the age of 6 he was building detailed recreations in his room (page 11).
Aged 11 he met his political idol. Joe Biden. Snort. He met Biden in a pizza shop whilst out with his parents and describes himself as ‘star-struck’ (page 13). Uncle Joe ripped out a leaf of paper from his briefing book writing ‘Remember me when you are president’ and gave an autograph. You’d think someone as status obsessed as McBride would post a photo of this treasured souvenir, but it appears it didn’t occur to anyone to include it.
Getting his own computer allowed him to learn about the history of transgender people, including the ‘six gender identities that existed in ancient Jewish culture’ (page 18) – interesting how the ancients decided to boil it down to Adam and Eve for the final cut though. Most of this web searching took place ‘late at night’ and would end up with him in front of the mirror daring himself to call himself a girl, experiencing revulsion-type shame when he did so. (Sissification anybody?)
His older brother, Sean, had already come out as gay so he had an inkling that his parents might be open to understanding, but he wasn’t ready yet. He signed up to the AU to study politics. In his campaign to become Student President he knocked on every single door in the residence halls. He claims he became a campus celebrity and that:
People, particularly freshman, would explode with excitement if they had a drink next to me at a party.page 21 – What? Why would anyone react like this?
As President he focussed on making things ‘inclusive’ and supporting a Transgender Day of Remembrance event. Crucially he worked on a policy ‘which would allow students of all gender identities to room with the student or students of their choice’ (page 21). People wondered why he cared so much about these issues, since he was presenting as a straight boy at the time, and he told them it was because his brother was gay.
By this time he could only get through a day if he reimagined everything he did ‘as a girl’ (page 22). Finally he confided in a friend, Helen, who he had worked with on a Democrat political campaign, and in secret she started to refer to him by a different name and pronouns.
I feared that I would be giving up the possibility of finding love – the first thing I learned about trans people was that loving us was a joke.page 24
So it was on Christmas Day that he dropped the bombshell on his parents. He claims the decision was made suddenly after feeling upset about unpacking a gift of a button-down shirt and tie, but I suspect it was planned. He was prepared for them to use ‘inaccurate terminology and phrasing’ (page 26).
“I feel like my life is over. I feel like you are dying,” my mom repeatedly cried.
I had read during my years of research online that my parents would likely feel this way.page 27
He chose to tell his mother first and describes her breakdown in a remote factual way. Both parents are labelled as having ‘an empathy gap’. Charming. Luckily though dad looked up some information online and saw the suicide risk rate transgender people was 41 percent and that the number drops by half when the family is supportive.
Chapter 2 – “Hi, I’m Andy … I think we’d get along pretty swimmingly”
Massaging his connections
McBride cut his political teeth as a teenager, campaigning for a local Democrat politician called Jack Markell, mainly doing the warm ups for Markell before he did public addresses. So he was the next person McBride chose to tell. McBride claims that he was worried that he might be considered a liability for Markell, because of their past association, but I suspect paving the way for his political future was the main motivation. He approached Markell professionally, reaching out to a member of Markell’s team first to test the water.
As it turned out Markell was very interested, as was his wife, in the turn of events in McBride’s life. Apparently McBride spoke with his wife for over an hour, whilst Markell himself spoke to his mother on the phone, whilst she was out shopping. At first McBride’s mother ‘fell to the ground’ and burst into tears, but these were happy tears, we are assured (page 34).
As McBride’s relationship with Markell and his wife developed (they would regularly talk on the phone), his growing confidence in crossdressing also did, although his mother would ask him to park at the back. Hormones started early after his announcement too. Although he is at pains to stress that ‘transition’ is not a necessary prerequisite to having a trans identity.
He tells us that the crossdressing at university started five days into his big announcement, when he held a big party, in which female friends were requested to bring their old clothes along to help him build up his new wardrobe.
We also learn that his ex-girlfriend, Jaimie, who he dated for a year, was told the big news after his parents. He told her at first that he was dating a boy (page 38). Was this something that he told her to help her understand his transition (as is implied)? Or was this something that actually happened that he now wants to draw a line under? Impossible to know since he never mentions this homosexual relationship again in the book.
McBride then tells us that he ‘didn’t fully realise just how pervasive the sexism and misogyny would be’ (page 40) and that he was stuck between being perceived as ‘too feminine’ or as ‘not a real woman’. This, of course, is the ‘policing of gender’ and he had to start worrying about inviting ‘unwanted attention from men on the street’ or else the ‘smirks’ of those who saw that he was a man.
Invitation to the White House
Three weeks after publishing my coming-out note, and the swirl of media around it, I received an email from the White House Social Office.page 44
Whilst groaning with pleasure at the interior decoration in the White House state rooms and drinking bubbly from a flute, McBride bumped into the trans-identified female he ended up marrying – Andrew Cray, also an LGBT activist and attorney, who worked in LGBTQ advocacy at the Center for American Progress (CAP).
Following that there was a flurry of messaging between them on Facebook and by text message. I suspect the main draw for McBride was Andy’s connections from the get-go, but McBride entertains us with the notion that he was just an anxious girl waiting to be asked out by a boy. McBride was also nervous about his appearance, wearing a wig, and with few changes yet from oestrogen hormones.
It was Fall 2012 when they finally had their first date, so a few months after they first met. Andy apparently wanted to make the date as ‘traditional’ as possible, arriving at McBride’s house to transport him to the restaurant round the corner. McBride swoons over how manly Andy was. The date is marred by a ‘server’ (note the gender neutral term) spotting that McBride is transgender, though by the end McBride is renewed by the fact that Andy has made him feel ‘beautiful in my own skin’, but reassures us: ‘It wasn’t the validation of a man’ (page 50).
When Andy drove McBride back home after the date, McBride recounts how as Andy helped him out of the car he smirked at Andy, causing her to appear ‘terrified, wondering if [she] had done something wrong’. McBride’s smirk turned into a smile and then they had their first kiss. A revealing moment.
Chapter 3 – “Sarah.”
McBride had applied for a White House internship a few months before coming out publicly. On the application form he had to give his legal name and legal sex, but there was also a box for a preferred name and so he chose Sarah, because every Sarah he knew ‘exuded a type of casual femininity that I identified with’ (page 54). Helen, the friend he had revealed his secret to first, had interned at the White House a year before, and had been assigned to the staffer who headed up LGBTQ outreach. What a coincidence!
It was two months after his official coming out that he learned he had been accepted into the programme. He began his time in the White House in August 2012.
McBride says he thinks the most significant action for transgender equality was taken in 2012 when the Secretary of State, then Hillary Clinton, adopted a new nationwide policy that you could change your legal sex on your passport ‘even if they hadn’t had gender affirmation surgery’ (page 55), i.e. a major step towards self-identification of legal sex. McBride tells us that such documents ‘make clear how the person should be treated’ (page 56) and without such documentary proof trans people would regularly be exposed to ‘danger’.
Of course McBride has a few scrapes with having to show his old documentation before he quickly updates it, which amounts to nothing more than some mild rudeness from a ‘server’ and an embarrassed traffic cop who stopped him for a ‘traffic violation’. Interestingly McBride does not feel the need to expand on what the violation was.
When he finally goes to court to change his name, he experiences the now familiar and-everybody-clapped-type scenario we come to expect from McBride’s irritating prose, with ‘fifty eyes’ all on him, but to even things out a bit he describes incidents in which people had been denied their name change. Just so we don’t forget how bad things are out there.
Chapter 4 – The People’s House
McBride recounts his first day in the White House. Again waxing lyrical about the interior decoration and notes that the view out of the window was the same as the printouts that he had hung up in his bedroom.
He ruminates about how many trans-identified people had been there before him. Precisely no one should be surprised to learn that it was actually trans-identified females who made the first dent into the system, a fact which seems to be replicated in myriad other places. Raffi Freedman-Gurspan was the first trans-identified male.
Surprise, surprise, McBride’s groundwork paid off and he was assigned to the office he wanted, the Office of Public Engagement, and assigned to the staffer Gautam Raghavan and Monique Dorsainvil. McBride name drops several other names which he believes are significant and gives up a very dry account of responsibilities, including line manager relationships. He worked long hours and was allegedly given tasks above his pay grade, including organising welcome committees for visiting foreign dignitaries. The saying in the office was: “You can’t spell hope without OPE” (page 65) which is like a line out of In The Loop.
When McBride discovers that some of his colleagues had no idea he was a ‘trans woman’, the news hits him ‘like a ton of bricks’ (page 67) and he doesn’t understand why, especially since the risk of violent attack decreases so dramatically, but he finally realises it was because:
I realised that I was disappointed because I want people to know who I am because I’m proud of who I am.
I’ve joined a community of people who have made the empowering decision to live whole, complete lives.
It’s a daring act of authenticity.page 68
About a week later, whilst working on a memo ‘outlining all the policy goals of the transgender community’ he swivels round his chair to face Michael Strautmanis, an original member of the Obama entourage from Chicago. In other words, Obama’s man. Straut, as he is known, was another one who apparently didn’t realise that McBride was a man, and wanted to know more about McBride’s story. McBride admits:
I had told my bosses that I was more than willing to talk with anyone about trans rights.page 70
Which begs the question really how it was possible that so few people knew he was trans-identified and rather suggests instead that he played an active role in spreading the news as far as possible. McBride notes, again revealing his obsession with status, that Straut sat with him for an hour which is a ‘significant amount of time for someone in a senior leadership position at the White House’. One wonders how difficult it might be to extricate oneself from a meeting with McBride.
Then Andy enters back into the story. McBride freely admits that he had only met her twice more for dinner and ‘rarely texted [her] back’, but when McBride spots her in the White House walking down the ‘columned, marble hallway’ their relationship starts afresh, with Andy giving up her entire weekend to give her friend and McBride a lift to the panel they were both appearing on. Andy meets McBride’s parents the same weekend, an important fact to note later in the story.
Andy Cray was born in 1986 and came from a small town and from a rich family. Her grandfather was Seymour Cray, credited with designing the first high speed computer. At college she came out as lesbian and both her and her girlfriend were evangelical Christians. After a couple of years together they both came to the conclusion that they were actually male and began their ‘transitions’ together.
Chapter 5 – The political is personal
This is the chapter in which McBride, using smoke and mirrors, tackles the thorny issue of female-only spaces and is perhaps the most significant chapter. It jumps around the place, but hopefully I have made sense of it.
McBride’s relationship with Andy becomes more intimate, with his spending nights over at her apartment, which was at the ‘top of a hill in the center of Washington’. McBride notes that she had her toy robots from childhood on display.
A significant moment between them was when they discussed outing ‘anti-equality politicians who are secretly LGBTQ’. McBride was gung-ho to do it, but Andy felt it was a line which shouldn’t be crossed. (Which brings up the interesting question: What is a secret LGBTQ person? Would someone who had never had a relationship and didn’t like sleeping around now be deemed ‘asexual’ and therefore a secret member of the alphabet bag? But I digress.)
McBride invited Andy to join him and his family on a holiday to Barbados during which their bond grew and the bond between Andy and McBride’s mother grew.
We have something close to a personal recollection between he and Andy, when they went for a drive around the island. Andy was too scared to drive, so McBride took the wheel. However many times McBride says it, the pet name they had for one another – Bean – just sounds affected. Like Old Bean. ‘[U]nderlying everything was our drive to push equality forward’ (page 82).
So McBride moved into Andy’s apartment, placing his ‘signed Obama campaign poster’ under Andy’s ‘Hilary-decaled skateboard on the wall’. Also, some of Andy’s toy robots had to make way for McBride’s ‘Delaware knickknacks’.
With regards to his home state, McBride acknowledges that being such a small state had allowed him an ‘outsized opportunity’ (page 83), however he claims that it was still legal for restaurants in the state to ‘deny me service’. He wanted to return to Delaware for good at some point and ‘potentially start a family with someone’ (page 85). So his next political step was to join the board of directors at Equality Delaware, the state’s primary LGBTQ advocacy organisation (he is still listed on the Board of Directors).
In the summer of 2012, just after he had come out publicly, he met up again with Jack Markell, the Delaware senator at the time, and his son Michael. Ostensibly he was giving Michael a tour of the AU campus, but McBride intuited that they really both wanted an education on trans identities. Markell, no doubt picking up on McBride’s unspoken dissatisfaction, asked if he still wanted to return to Delaware, just like he’d always said he did. No, said McBride, he was too scared to return. Markell agreed that things needed to change legislatively. A meeting between Markell and his staff and the Human Rights Campaign quickly followed.
Beau Biden, the issue of safeguarding and female only spaces
Enter the next significant political ally he had made aged 16 – President Biden’s son, Beau Biden. McBride had been an intern for Beau’s campaign to be Attorney General for Delaware. They apparently hit it off and McBride enjoyed ‘ribbing’ him.
Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, a smart, young, handsome elected official, had made protecting children from sexual assault a centerpiece of his time in office. The son of Delaware’s longtime senator and U.S. vice president Joe Biden, Beau was a rising star in the national Democratic Party.page 89 – McBride needlessly explaining who Joe Biden is again
A pyramid scheme?
At the current time of writing the Beau Biden Foundation homepage has a photo of two young girls and the promise to ‘protect children and confront abuse’. The Foundation sells workshop training on child safeguarding. Their safeguarding certificate, the Shield of Protection, has a registered trademark.
Shield of Protection Partnerships begin at $3,000, based on the complexity and the scope of work to achieve best practices.https://www.beaubidenfoundation.org/shieldofprotection/
This raises alarm bells. All safeguarding should have the same content, be in line with the law and low cost. If the Beau Biden Foundation is really doing it better, and they really care about children, they would happily share their new found knowledge with the community, no? They are asking publicly funded organisations and service providers to outsource their safeguarding to their own standards – yet these standards are commercially protected information. Sound familiar?
McBride had thought about ringing Beau with his coming out news but he decided he didn’t want to burden him. Instead Beau made a call to let him know that he was still loved and considered part of the Biden family (which suggests to me that contact was made first by McBride, – probably a snivelling text). So when it came to working with the HRC to get the gender identity non-discrimination bill through, he remade contact with Beau. Beau was happy to do whatever was needed.
This turned out to be a very crucial piece of help indeed, in the form of the support of the head of the Child Predator Unit, Patricia Dailey Lewis (page 91) from Beau’s Foundation (though McBride refers to her as Patty). As McBride says ‘there was no one better positioned to push back’ against the concerns of those worried about allowing men into women’s and girls’ spaces.
Mrs. Lewis is a strong proponent of prevention education in the child sexual abuse space. Far too often, discussions of child sexual abuse focus on the important work done to help survivors heal, the length of the sentence for the predator, or what signs were missed (or brushed under the rug). Mrs. Lewis believes prevention education is lost in the discussion.From Patricia Dailey Lewis’ bio on the Foundation’s website – sounds nuts to me
McBride set about talking directly with the politicians he needed on board, meeting them one by one, his crying mother in tow, who would pull on the heartstrings of those she met. McBride meanwhile apparently realised that his own voice wasn’t so compelling and that he needed to up his game.
I was ignoring the emotion that was at the heart of my own progressivism: empathy.Page 94
Which would really be pity in anybody else’s book.
Chapter 6 – ‘Please pass this bill’
The artlessness of McBride’s prose is particularly apparent when describing enemies. He uses familiar slurs that we hear from the trans lobby; people being too pale, male and stale, or else right wing evangelical Christians, or ‘moms’. Or a number of those things.
Beau Biden recorded a video in support of the bill.
Support was gained from more than two hundred small businesses in the state and other LGBTQ lobby groups corralled trans-identified people to lobby legislators directly with their personal stories. It was acutely understood that personal stories of victimisation would work well. McBride gives a number of specific examples of such victimisation, which I was unable to find on the internet, including the allegation that a trans-identified female had been beaten up in a girls school toilets.
McBride had his own chance to address the Senate himself, recounting his ‘journey to self-acceptance’. When he started to talk about his dad, he started to ‘tear up’, telling the gathered law makers that his dad had told him he felt like he was ‘gaining a daughter’ (page 108).
McBride’s mother also testified, telling the Senate that her first fear after McBride came out, was that his future would be ‘shattered by discrimination’, which is at odds with what he reports her to have said (‘My life is over, I feel like you are dying’). His mother cried on the stand and his father came to assist her, helpfully looking ‘in pain’. His dad’s testimony included the all-important factoid about the 41 percent suicide rate affecting trans people. McBride claims to have felt embarrassed that they had come to defend him, as if he had ‘committed a crime’. Luckily during his parent’s testimony McBride had a tearful moment, which was ‘splashed across the front page of the newspaper the next day’ (page 110).
McBride says that the empathy for his parents was so palpable, even the legislators who he knew would be voting against the bill, looked effected by their distress.
Then it was the job of Mark Purpura from Equality Delaware to rebut ‘the dreaded “bathroom predator” myth’ (page 111). The main opponent of the bill was the Delaware Family Policy Council, whom he describes as a ‘anti-LGBTQ group, designated by watchdogs as a “hate group”‘ (page 112). (The Council’s Mission statement is here, decide for yourself if they sound like a hate group.)
He claims they produced a video in which a bearded middle-aged man with sunglasses followed a young girl into the toilets in a park, which I could not find on searching. McBride happily poo-poos the idea that any man would exploit the loophole the bill was trying to create, relying instead on repeating the fact that sexual assault was already illegal.
Gary Simpson was one of the Senators who opposed the bill, citing that many women had contacted him by email with worries that it would permit and/or not stop sexual predators from using female toilets. McBride tells us that these were simply emails from supporters of the Delaware Family Policy Council.
Then Patricia Dailey Lewis, the head of the Child Predator Unit of Beau Biden’s Foundation, gave her evidence. Simpson questioned her how the bill would prevent sexual predators from taking advantage from self-identification. Dailey Lewis responded:
“A sexual predator, regardless of their excuse to be in any room, is not permitted to harm someone. And to take that argument a step further, we have people on the sex-offender registry – not transgender folks, but [nontransgender] folks – on the child-protection registry and the sex-offender registry today that are permitted to go into bathrooms. The same bathrooms with the kind of people they have offended against.”page 114
Simpson then pointed out that a man wearing a wig and a skirt could enter a female toilet.
Patty corrected him. “That’s not a transgender person.”
Simpson asked how she would prove that. Patty jumped at the question. “We’re talking about the utilization of a restroom, which for most of us will take a mere two to four minutes …page 114
Dailey Lewis went onto to conjure up scenarios in which a female predator might follow a young girl into the toilets for nefarious purposes. This is the head of a child predator unit. Her testimony angered another senator so much he rose from his desk and shouted: “I have never been so offended by testimony. She’s not answering truthfully!” (page 115).
McBride wasn’t happy his ‘Patty’ had been insulted, so he asked to take the stand. He told the senate that there had not been a ‘single documented instance of a transgender person or person claiming to be transgender’ who had committed an assault. (Trans Crime UK have documented that in 2014, the year after this bill was discussed, there were no fewer than 27 trans-identified individuals with convictions in the UK, so I imagine that the US would have had a similar number.)
Whilst giving his evidence McBride’s train of thought was broken by the appearance of Andy in the chamber, being ‘struck by how handsome’ she looked, noting a ‘proud smirk’ on her face. Seeing Andy supposedly invigorated him to give his best performance.
McBride tells us about a violent attack against a trans-identified man after he had tried to use the women’s toilets in a McDonald’s in Baltimore. I found this video news report on YouTube, it is restricted, despite there only being about one second of footage from the attack in the news report. The Daily Mail also reported the story. Another video shows slightly more footage of the attack (about 30 seconds) and also an interview with the man who was attacked – Chrissy Lee Polis. Again the video is restricted and you will have to sign into YouTube to watch it. I couldn’t find any videos of this attack which weren’t similarly restricted, which is strange as the attack is not really brutal or explicit comparatively speaking. Trans advocacy groups held a demonstration outside the McDonalds restaurant in protest.
Chapter 7 – One step closer to justice.
The bill passed through the Delaware Senate but then had to go through a smaller committee hearing. This time moms on behalf of the Delaware Family Policy Council (DFPC) testified ‘dragging their kids along, too’ (page 121). These ‘moms’ testimony largely threw out the subtlety of the arguments’ previously made by Republican senators McBride tells us. The women are depicted ‘clutching their children tightly’ and as ‘middle-aged’.
McBride’s palms got sweaty as he waited to speak, although he knew ‘their hate was a by-product of their ignorance’. The head of the DFPC introduced herself to McBride (likely Nicole Theis), but McBride deemed her ‘seemingly warm smile and respectful introduction’ as nothing more than a cover for ‘contempt’ (page 122). When the DFPC head delivered her opposition testimony from the lectern, McBride moved to the side to ensure that everyone ‘could see my face as she delivered her hateful talking points’. McBride believed this very effective.
On 18 June 2013 McBride awoke to the news that the bill would be amended as not enough Democrats were fully convinced on the toilet access issue. We get our first swear word from McBride: “Fuck.” (page 126).
A clause was suggested that McBride deemed ‘stigmatizing’ (page 127) because it essentially meant that trans-identifying men would have to use a make shift third space or else a proper third space.
The discomfort of others shouldn’t be grounds for differential treatment.page 127 – the ‘others’ here being women
Another amendment was fielded, by a Democratic member, that people should use the toilet in line with their biological sex. When McBride learnt of this, he screamed: “Are you fucking kidding me?” (page 128) and the promise that he would kill the bill if it got added. McBride patiently explains to us that if trans-identified people can’t use their toilet of choice they wouldn’t be able to ‘leave our homes for more than two hours’ (page 129). This threat was thwarted.
As McBride waited to hear the outcome of all this, waiting in the lobby with Andy, an ‘angry woman’ asked him if he had had surgery yet and then allegedly said if she saw him in the same toilets as her, she would ‘chop it right off’. McBride ‘reluctantly’ reported her to the Capitol Police. He tells us more stats about the likelihood of being abused by the police if you are transgender (58 percent) but that this includes using the wrong pronoun. The police are unsympathetic, telling him the dig was part and parcel of trying to pass a controversial bill (page 132). The bill passes but not quite as McBride would like it.
Chapter 8 – “Will you still love me?”
McBride applied for a job on the same team as Andy at the Center for American Progress (CAP) (page 142). Andy notified HR of their relationship, McBrides says this was because she wanted everything above aboard, but I wonder if she was secretly hoping the application might be spurned. But guess what? CAP didn’t care and he got the job anyway, his first full time job as an advocate working in the area of ‘LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections’ (page 143). He notes that the CAP was not only organisation working on this issue, but minimises the number, describing them as a ‘handful’. At the same time he and Andy moved into a new apartment together but in the same building and at work their desks were ‘only twenty feet apart’, but he claims that ‘both of us loved every minute of it’ (page 144). He also claims that some in the office didn’t know they were dating. Evenings together would be spent ‘watching mindless reality shows’ and cooking together. McBride said that he felt ‘more fulfilled and happier than I’d ever imagined’ and then Andy received a cancer diagnosis.
Whilst on holiday in Barbados, McBride says Andy had started to complain about a sore on her tongue but didn’t seek medical attention for several months. During the initial procedure to remove it, the surgeon had to abandon the procedure saying it was larger than he had expected. It must have been obvious at that point that it was a malignant growth. Yet we know when Andy received her biopsy results she was not with McBride, as he relates his reaction after she informed him by phone. McBride had run upstairs to his boss’s office at CAP, breathless, feeling like he might throw up. The boss told him to go home. When he got back to their apartment, Andy was ‘deep in thought’ sitting on their couch. The diagnosis was malignant tongue cancer.
We never learn if Andy was on regular testosterone or whether she stopped using testosterone after her diagnosis. According to Cancer Research UK, one of the causes of tongue cancer is the human papilloma virus, normally contracted during unprotected sex, which most people spontaneously recover from. The other major causes are smoking and drinking. It makes me wonder how long Andy had really suffered from the tongue lesion. I have a suspicion it was years, rather than months. If she had taken testosterone over a number of years, is it possible her immune system was severely suppressed and could it be why the lesion persisted and spread? Nothing at all is mentioned about these issues.
What McBride is interested in talking about, however, is that discrimination against trans people in the ‘health-care setting’ was rife, which is sort of contradicted by his claim that ‘Not every professional knew we were trans’ (page 149). He tells us that 70 percent of trans people had reported discrimination, including health-care professionals ‘refusing to touch patients’. Andy was to have her treatment at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, which worried them because of its ‘deeply troubled history with trans people’ (i.e. the place where so-called Gender Identity Health Care was originally pioneered by John Money) as the University decided to shut it Gender Identity Clinic down. The man who took that decision, Dr Paul McHugh, is described as a ‘ring-wing extremist’. I think McHugh would have a good case for libel should he wish to take it.
McBride says they were worried that McHugh might intervene personally in Andy’s treatment at the hospital. He says they felt burdened with worry about having to reveal their transgender identities and ‘Will they treat us differently?’ You might be mistaken for thinking that the cancer diagnosis was joint.
Andy’s surgical excision of the cancer meant that she would have to have a skin graft taken from her forearm, which would leave a large rectangular wound, to rebuild the tongue, i.e. a graft procedure similar to that of a phalloplasty.
A week before the surgery he and Andy went out for the ‘last big date before our lives would be consumed with treatment’. The location of the date was the Human Rights Campaign’s National Dinner, where McBride and his brother Sean, had been invited to speak. Three thousand people were in attendance. Sean bought his husband along and McBride invited his ex-girlfriend Jaimie and his best friend from childhood, Read. Andy must have felt so special.
In fact, McBride alludes to the fact that Andy might have not been exactly over the moon about the event.
“Are you sure you are okay doing this?” I asked him. “I can cancel.”page 152
“No. This can be our lash hurrah before, ya know … everything,” he responded.
Luckily for McBride his speech was a banger, and although the tone of his speech ‘triumphant’, he claims he wasn’t feeling ‘particularly fortunate’ and that the night might be ‘the last of its kind for the two of us’ (page 154). Watch the video of the speech below and judge for yourself whether McBride was occupied by conflict.
In stark contrast Andy’s main worry was the possibility of losing the faculty of speech.
Just prior to the surgery itself, a scan apparently revealed further spread of the cancer to the other side of the tongue and the excision was going to be more extensive. The surgery lasted ten hours and she spent a week in hospital recovering, communicating by whiteboard. McBride would visit her, doing his LGBTQ advocacy work at the same time. Andy relied on McBride to inform her nurses and doctors that she was transgender and McBride would scan faces for the minutest sign of discomfort, which he reports, rather sadly, ‘all offered no suggestion that they had a problem with who we were‘ (page 157) – my italics.
Just before discharge a nurse explained to McBride how to ‘clean Andy’s tracheostomy tube, dress his wound, and change his food’ (page 158) and they go back to their apartment. Almost immediately the tracheostomy tube needed to be suctioned. McBride tried to perform the procedure but was unable to push it down whilst Andy’s breathing got more laboured. McBride leaned back against the wall and dramatically slid down to the floor crying “I can’t do this! I can’t do this!” (page 161) and began sobbing uncontrollably. Despite Andy’s tongue being so swollen a few pages earlier she was unable to speak, she managed to tell McBride:
Sitting on the edge of the toilet, covered in blood, Andy looked at me with tears in his own eyes and just calmly said, as clearly as possible, given the state of his tongue, “It’s going to be okay, my Bean. I’ll do what whatever we need.”page 161
A week later the tracheostomy and feeding tube were removed (page 165) having been only a temporary measure for recovery.
Years later McBride found an unsent letter from Andy to himself, in which she promised not to ‘strain you too far beyond my emotional support needs’ (page 162). Clearly she had acutely understood he was not able to help with her physical care. McBride claims that when he screamed and sobbed “I can’t do this!” it actually meant “I need help”.
Chapter 9 – “It hasn’t taken away my voice”
The tone deaf chapter title is apt, since we learn much more about the abusive nature of McBride’s and Andy’s relationship.
McBride informs us that because he was a new employee at CAP he didn’t qualify for family leave. You can virtually hear the relief in his voice. Fortunately for Andy she did have a supportive family and friendship circle who visited and it sounds like the bulk of her support came from there.
Meanwhile McBride waffles on about the bills he was helping pass – this time the Employment Nondiscrimination Act which had reached the US Senate floor (page 166). There are several pages going into the details of this.
When Christmas comes round again, McBride tells Andy he is off to spend it with his parents, whilst Andy’s dad and brother were planning to stay with Andy at their apartment. She pleaded with him to stay, but McBride told her ‘I need a break’. Andy exploded with anger and then apologised profusely for having shouted at him. Nevertheless McBride stuck to his plan to go home to his parents, as:
This would be my one opportunity to get some rest.page 171
Prior to Andy’s illness, she had been involved in trying to the get the Washington Mayor on board with guidance relating to ‘transgender inclusion in health care’, which we all know really means ‘transition-related’ cosmetic treatments (page 174). McBride argues that a man having a fake vagina created in his perineum is exactly the same as ‘a person with a damaged vaginal canal after childbirth’ having reconstructive surgery. Foul. But try as he might to distract our attention, the possibility of Andy’s illness being transition-related lingers in the mind.
Andy wrote an op-ed for The Advocate on healthcare called No One is Invincible. Interestingly McBride is not even alluded to, and it is curiously bereft, save one sentence, of the typical sloganeering you expect from a trans activist. In the op-ed Andy describes her body as ‘still aching and tired’, which directly conflicts with McBride’s claim that she had ‘regained [her] strength’ (page 177). It was published on 13 March 2014, the same month McBride chose to undergo penectomy, castration and vaginoplasty surgery. The surgeon he chose to do the surgery was a ‘trans woman herself’, so one suspects that this was Dr Marci Bowers.
Like many surgery stories I have read, he talks about experiencing an ‘overwhelming sense of relief’ and ‘feeling complete’ and such like, but never explains why this would be, instead he comments:
Too many outside the community seek to find contradictions in our identities in an effort to undermine their validity.page 179
High on morphine in the hospital, his parents and Andy are present for his recovery. He felt fine, high even. After taking a further opioid in tablet form, he ‘projectile-vomited all over Andy’ (page 179). Apparently Andy’s response was to smirk and say: “Oh, Bean … what’s a little vomit?” and McBride says ‘I could tell he was almost happy it had happened’ because it wasn’t the other way round. Um. Okay. I think not.
The following weeks saw McBride relegated to his bed at home and both Andy and his parents cared for him, cooking meals and helping him to the bathroom. He wasn’t mobile enough to go with Andy to her appointment to find out if post-treatment follow up scans were stable, yet when she rang to tell him the news she was all clear for the time being, he was able to jump out of bed and start screaming and dancing (page 180).
Two years into the relationship, McBride finally deigned to meet Andy’s family at their biannual party, despite Andy having spent a lot of time with his family from the off. A few days prior to going, Andy had developed a cough, which McBride suspected was metastatic spread to the lungs.
Since near the beginning of our relationship, Andy had made clear just how much he wanted me to visit his hometown and to go to Volefest with him.page 184 – Andy’s family’s biannual family reunion party was known as Volefest
Chapter 10 – “Amazing grace.”
“If it turns out to be terminal, would you marry me?”page 187 – Andy to McBride
Scans now showed that the cancer had spread to both lungs and that the disease was untreatable. Predictably McBride had a meltdown, ringing his parents and demanding his mother come to the scene immediately. It was late at night, and his mother was also upset, so his father reasoned with him, could she not come down tomorrow instead? ‘Hearing the fear in my voice’ (page 190) his father relented and his mother got a train down the same night.
Andy asked McBride to marry her as she ‘prepared to go with [her] mom to an appointment with [her] doctors at Johns Hopkins’ (page 191). McBride didn’t want to respond to the marriage proposal until the doctors confirmed it was terminal. He says this is because he didn’t want her to think that he had ‘given up on her’.
During McBride’s 24th birthday party, attended by his parents and some of Andy’s family, McBride dramatically asked his parents to join him on the roof of the apartment building to bear witness to another of his meltdowns. Andy was perturbed by their leaving the party and McBride states this was because she knew it was it was because they would be discussing her. When McBride got his parents to the rooftop he told them:
“Every day, I wake up and it feels like a nightmare,” I confessed. “And I want this nightmare to end, but I also know what that means. The end is Andy dying, and I hate myself for feeling that.”page 194
McBride needn’t have worried as Andy’s health rapidly deteriorated and she needed an oxygen machine to help her breath. McBride organised the wedding, bringing forward the date before the chemotherapy treatment started, Andy so frail she was only able to give a ‘thumbs-up’ (page 202) to the song she wanted played after they exchanged vows. McBride cut the number of lines down to three sentences from the normal vow exchange so that she was able to manage them, though it sounds like Andy was drifting in and out of consciousness, barely aware of the plans afoot.
On the day of the wedding, Sunday 24 August 2014, whilst McBride was happily trying on his ‘white lace floor-length dress with a V-shaped neckline that spread to the off-the-shoulder sleeves [which] needed very few alterations’ in a neighbour’s apartment, a friend of Andy informs McBride that Andy had collapsed and had been unconscious. Paramedics were on the way.
“I’m sorry, are you mad at me?”page 205, Andy’s response on seeing McBride after her collapse
Paramedics thought she might have had a stroke. Andy didn’t know what the date was, but did remember it was her wedding day. McBride’s brother, who is an oncologist, managed the paramedic team by telling them he was fully aware of her condition. Andy apparently interrupted and said she didn’t want to go to hospital. The paramedics left and with three people helping her to dress, she was wheeled up to the roof of the apartment building, oxygen machine in tow. There were fifty friends and relatives waiting. The pressure she must have felt under to turn up must have been immense. If McBride had really had her best interests at heart, he would have organised a small wedding, in their apartment. One wonders if the press were in attendance.
The chapter is called ‘Amazing grace’ because that’s what McBride thought as he walked around his own wedding party, looking at the bouquets of flowers and arrangement of ferns, in his beautiful dress, towards the alter on which they would marry. Andy had helped him into his ‘authentic life and trans identity’ and now he was there to ‘help walk [her] to [her] death’ (page 208). As Andy breathlessly intoned her vow and McBride responded in kind, ‘the wind swept through the assembled crowd’. Andy’s breath was so laboured she could not complete the third sentence. Nevertheless rings were exchanged.
Chapter 11 – Righteous anger.
Andy continued to deteriorate following the marriage ceremony, coming in and out of consciousness.
After each episode, in typical Andy fashion, he’d look up at me and say, “I’m sorry. Are you mad at me?”page 211
She was also due to start chemotherapy and before she left for the hospital, McBride’s brother Sean warned him it was likely they would admit her. The oncologist was shocked at the state of her and McBride admits that the doctor had not been informed about her ‘episodes’. McBride tells us that despite his ‘best efforts, Andy was significantly dehydrated’ (page 211).
McBride went up to the nurses counter to find out if Andy would be admitted, and he knew if that was the case, that it would be ‘the end’. McBride went to tell her ‘knowing the news would crush [her]’ (page 212). Despite massively increasing her oxygen intake Andy continued to drift in and out of consciousness ‘as [she] had been for the last few days’.
The oncologist took McBride aside and asked him if he was prepared to have Andy intubated. If Andy was intubated she would never be able to be taken off it again as it would require sedation and a natural death would be allowed to ensue. McBride went into have his last full conversation with Andy in which he essentially persuaded her to be put into a permanent vegetative state that she would never recover from. McBride coldly notes that ‘it was clear that in checking that box his last bit of hope disappeared’.
As at the wedding, McBride needed a big audience for Andy’s death, and he called numerous people to come to Baltimore, including Bishop Gene who had officiated at their wedding, a few days later. McBride slept next to Andy in the hospital room, one hand holding Andy’s, his other hand holding his own mother’s. They had married on the Sunday, and Andy died on the Thursday. After the death McBride admits he had no idea whether Andy had wanted burial or cremation, though his principal worry was that the funeral home should respect Andy’s ‘gender identity’. McBride says that it took ‘research and detective work’ to find a funeral home who would comply (page 217) (otherwise known as ringing round and asking).
McBride then had a chance to bask in Andy’s reflected glory as tributes came in from the LGBTQ activist community. McBride also begins a political diatribe that ‘hate had kept Andy inside himself’ (page 221) for ‘three-quarters of his life’ which lays the basis for the final chapter which goes on and on about ‘gender affirming care for children’.
McBride ‘jumped’ back into work, building a working relationship with Chad Griffin, President of the HRC, who came out publicly in favour of a comprehensive nondiscrimination bill. In his work at CAP he published a 94 page report on ‘nondiscrimination protections’ – see here. Bishop Gene was also an author.
Chapter 12 – There was that word again. “History.”
The Obama administration made it clear that the Affordable Care Act should not discriminate against transgender people. McBride doesn’t explain that this was not a carte blanche for transition-related care, as this article explains, preferring instead to let the readers believe this was yet another Win for Tim.
McBride tells us that violence against ‘trans women’ was increasing and that 22 trans people were killed in the United States in 2016. He also continues to campaign on the issue of toilets, bemoaning that: ‘It’s no surprise that antitrans extremists have targeted bathrooms’ (page 231). To show the world how completely normal he is, he publicly posted a selfie in the ladies (the article is from Teen Vogue and vomit-inducing). Selfies in bogs must be some sort of baseline requirement.
The story went viral but McBride worried terribly that the importance of the story was lost over the ‘vulnerable cuteness of [my] doe-eyes accented with white eyeliner’ (page 235), claiming to quote an internet user. He wails that he didn’t want his powerful action overshadowed by his ‘appearance and femininity’. Not only that but the dark web of alt-right fascists were full of conversations about ‘gang raping’ and ‘murdering’ him – which begs the obvious question: What he was doing on the dark web?
He also received thousands of messages to ‘kys’ (i.e. kill yourself) and just before giving a keynote speech for the HRC he had a moment of suicidal ideation. However, he didn’t, gave the speech, and following that became National Press Secretary for the organisation. He cofounded Trans United for Hilary which backed Hilary Clinton in her ill-fated bid for the presidency against Donald Trump. Then the call came with the big news that he would speak at the Democratic National Convention; its first ever transgender speaker. He knew he ‘needed to be vulnerable’ (page 242).
Typical to McBride’s inflated sense of importance, he said he realised the crowd knew this was a special moment, but while the actual crowd in the room were experiencing a religious paroxysm, ‘online communities of parents transgender children were posting pictures and videos of their kids watching the speech’ (page 248). That year the Democrat convention meeting had invited 28 transgender delegates.
After McBride delivered his speech, he fell into his parents’ arms and broke down sobbing. Again. Elsewhere though a mom was sitting with her ten year old daughter, watching McBride on the TV. ‘Is there anything you want to tell me?’ asked the mom. ‘I’m a boy,’ said the girl. Flashback to the convention and Clinton took to the stage to acknowledge the history of the moment. Then McBride received an email from a mother of a 7 year old boy, including a photo of him dressed up as a girl.
Chapter 13 – Our voices matter.
Two weeks after the convention, I met the little trans girl from the photo, after inviting her and her mom to the HRC office.page 254
We are now in our last chapter, in which McBride mainly focuses his attention on the issue of ‘transgender children’. He met the 7 year old and told this little boy his three favourite things about being transgender were that he got to meet Andy, that it had made him a stronger and more compassionate person, and that finally it gave him the opportunity to meet ‘”amazing people like you. People who are brave, brilliant, and beautiful.”‘ (page 254). The boy, renamed Lulu, was the first generation of trans people who had been allowed to grow up as themselves, with – of course – the appropriate ‘healthcare’.
McBride was on a whistle-stop tour of the country; every time he gave a speech parents would turn up with their children in tow. Despite all their efforts the Democrats could still not persuade enough people to vote for Hilary Clinton.
Several months after Trump’s inauguration McBride was still meeting up with children, and recounts his meeting with a 12 year old boy who had been renamed Stella at a ‘HRC youth-orientated conference’ (page 263). A few days later McBride had a private meeting with Stella and his mother in his HRC office. McBride felt that the kid is just like he was at that age, but the one gnawing difference was that Stella had gotten to be ‘herself’ (page 264). McBride flattered Stella that he would be the first transgender president. Later they walked down to the White House and Stella got on his shoulders whilst the mom took a snap of the two.
The last several pages are remonstrations that the politics of transgenderism had failed to grip the nation but no understanding of why, only the repeated insistence that the movement was ‘unstoppable’ (page 267).
What comes shining through the prose at every turn is McBride’s utter narcism and self-obsession, this being especially revolting during the section in which he gloatingly describes Andy’s demise, making only the lamest attempts at compassion over her dire situation. He is telling us who is he, at every turn. One can only imagine what it must have been like for her to be actively dying, yet having to deal with his constant demands whilst treading on eggshells.
That men like this, with their demands for child transition, are front and centre of Biden’s Administration says everything about what is wrong with the politics of the Left these days. One might also dare say that, at times, they have been put front and centre of our own movement’s politics too.
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