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Cory Booker: Nonbinary ‘Niephew’ Taught Me How to Be Trans Ally

Cory Booker: Nonbinary ‘Niephew’ Taught Me How to Be a Trans Ally

Here’s another term for your expanding LGBTQ+ rolodex: “niephew.” It’s a combination of “niece” and “nephew,” sometimes used to refer to trans children who identify outside the gender binary.

Presidential candidate Cory Booker dropped the nonbinary portmanteau on Wednesday when discussing his support for his transgender relative, Avery, who he says has helped educate the former Newark, N.J. major to be “someone who is more aware of specific issues facing trans youth in schools today."

For Booker, being an ally to LGBTQ+ people means admitting he doesn’t have “all the answers when it comes to trans youth.”

“I'm willing to elevate folks to let them sit as peers with me,” the New Jersey Senator says in a sitdown with the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). “So I hope that one day very soon — let’s call it maybe less than two years — that Avery, my niephew, and other great trans leaders in the youth community have a seat at the White House to talk about issues.”

In a nine-minute video released by the advocacy group, Booker also discusses the epidemic of violence against black trans women, calling it “something that should have everyone in this country concerned, and frankly, outraged,” and the rollbacks of LGBTQ+ rights under the current administration.

Calling the 2020 a “moral moment in America,” Booker claims the next election must be a “restoration of the best of our values.” 

“It has to be done from that office by elevating how we are rendering populations in this country invisible,” the candidate tells NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling. “Marginalizing them is just not acceptable to me.”

Booker, an original cosponsor of the Equality Act, also reiterated his support for a nationwide LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination law and expanding access to trans health care. He says that whether transgender people have access to a medical provider who will treat them in accordance with their gender identity is often a “matter of life and death.”

“And so for me, my commitment is not just trying to stop… [the] rollback of what this administration has done, but we have a lot more advances left to do,” Booker says.

A 2015 report from NCTE found that a third of respondents (33 percent) had been mistreated by a healthcare provider within the past year, including verbal harassment and physical assault. Fifty-five percent had been refused coverage of transition-related surgery by an insurance or health provider in the past year, while a quarter were denied hormone coverage.

Because of these experiences, one in three trans people (33 percent) said they’d put off going to the doctor in the past year.

The conversation is part of a series of interviews NCTE is conducting with 2020 hopefuls. The nonprofit released two more on Wednesday: a chat with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. 

The interviews give both candidates a chance to outline their LGBTQ+ agendas. In a reference to her campaign slogan, Gillibrand says it’s an “act of bravery” for trans people to live openly as themselves. Sanders, meanwhile, vows to fight “discrimination in all of its forms” if elected president.

“And I know that the trans community has been, in sometimes very violent and deadly ways, been a victim of that hatred,” the self-described Democratic Socialist politician says. “So we will provide all of the legal protection that we possibly can to protect the trans community and to protect anybody else who was being subjected to hate crimes and bullying.”

Gillibrand and Booker have been among the only candidates to raise LGBTQ+ issues during the 2020 presidential debates.

You can watch the interviews in full on YouTube.

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