Delaware Democrat Sarah McBride, who in June launched a potentially history-making bid to become the nation’s first openly transgender congressperson, leads her primary opponents by a wide margin, according to polling released Friday that was shared first with The Hill.

In a survey of likely Democratic primary voters in Delaware conducted this month by Change Research and commissioned by the Human Rights Campaign Equality Votes PAC, 44 percent of voters said they would vote for McBride if the primary election were held today — nearly two times the 23 percent who said they would vote for her central opponent, Delaware State Housing Authority Director Eugene Young.

Another 13 percent of voters surveyed said they would select Colleen Davis, the State Treasurer, as the Democratic nominee for Delaware’s at-large congressional district. Eighteen percent, meanwhile, said they were undecided, and 2 percent said they would not vote in the Democratic primary if McBride, Young and Davis were their only options.

McBride, 32, holds a dominant lead among likely women voters, according to Friday’s poll, as well as strong leads in most polled age groups. Regardless of candidate, however, more than 90 percent of voters surveyed said they will “definitely” or “probably” vote in Delaware’s Democratic primary next September, including roughly two-thirds who said they are “extremely motivated” to do so.

The potential election of McBride, who in 2020 became the nation’s first openly transgender state senator, to Congress would come at a pivotal moment for LGBTQ and transgender rights in the U.S.

Close to 500 bills filed in state legislatures across the country this year threaten to dismantle protections for LGBTQ Americans, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Most of them target transgender youths’ access to gender-affirming health care, bathrooms and school sports teams, but a growing number also endanger the rights of transgender adults.

“At a time when the LGBTQ+ community is in a state of emergency, representation in Congress remains essential,” said Geoff Wetrosky, vice president of national campaigns at the Human Rights Campaign, which in June declared a national state of emergency for LGBTQ people.

“Sarah’s win would not only be historic, but deeply meaningful for transgender representation in the nation’s capital—sending a clear message that transgender people cannot and will not be erased,” Wetrosky said.

LGBTQ rights have also been a recent target of conservatives in Congress. All 12 federal spending bills for fiscal year 2024 include anti-LGBTQ measures. Additional bills introduced by this Congress would severely restrict access to gender-affirming health care for transgender youths and adults and ban certain schoolbooks with LGBTQ themes.

Twenty-five more openly LGBTQ members of Congress — 21 in the House and five in the Senate — are needed to achieve equitable representation for LGBTQ people on Capitol Hill, according to the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute.

Just 12 out LGBTQ people are serving in the current Congress – 10 in the House and two in the Senate — despite more than 7 percent of the nation’s adult population identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or “something other than heterosexual,” according to a February Gallup poll.

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