Mauree Turner, America’s first nonbinary state legislator, shares her story
Turner beat out Republican Kelly Barlean for the seat in a heavily Republican state
As previously reported in theGrio, Mauree Turner from Oklahoma, made history as the first Muslim and the first nonbinary person to be elected to the state’s legislature.
Turner, 27, was elected on Nov. 3 to represent District 88 in Oklahoma House of Representatives, and she assumed office last week.
According to NBC News, Turner, who uses both they/them and she/her pronouns said their childhood was relatively idealistic: They had a supportive and involved mother and grew up singing in the choir. They attended college at Oklahoma State University and then spent time organizing for various civil rights projects.
“While I never wanted to be in politics in this aspect, community organizing is always about answering a call to action, and that’s what my community was doing,” they told NBC News.
Turner beat out Republican Kelly Barlean for the seat in a heavily Republican state, and Turner hopes their election victory will help LGBTQ people in Oklahoma and beyond see themselves represented.
“I’m still reading so many messages from folks around the world that are just happy to have some sort of representation,” said Turner, whose district represents central Oklahoma City. “We’ve been able to create a space where folks can not only see themselves but also feel a little more empowered to show up, either fully as themselves or even just a little more fuller.”
Turner’s campaign platform focused on criminal justice reform and increased access to health care and public education.
According to the Prison Policy Initiative, Oklahoma incarcerates 1,079 per 100,000 people, giving the state the highest incarceration rate in the country. The state’s incarceration rate is especially high among women.
Growing up with a father and grandfather who were incarcerated until Turner was around 12 or 13, criminal justice is particularly personal for them.
Turner said they think part of their campaign’s appeal was their belief in “people-and-community-based solutions.” Now that they’re in office, they’re starting to lay the groundwork for what they hope will be a long and successful political career.
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