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Cory Booker: I Have a Nonbinary 'Niephew'

Cory Booker

Booker says his "'niephew,' which is a combination of niece and nephew," has helped him understand issues facing trans and nonbinary youth.

U.S. senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Cory Booker has opened up about having a nonbinary relative.

"My brother's child, my 'niephew,' which is a combination of niece and nephew, is a trans activist," Booker said in an interview released today by the National Center for Transgender Equality Action Fund, the NCTE's political action arm. "[They have] helped their uncle be someone who is more aware of specific issues facing trans youth in schools today."

Booker has long been a strong supporter of equal rights for transgender and nonbinary people, but this is the first time he has talked about his relative. "I think that this is a moral moment in America and that the next president has to be someone that understands that there's a restoration of the best of our values," the New Jersey senator told NCTE Executive Director Mara Kiesling. "It has to be done from that office by elevating how we are rendering populations in this country invisible. Marginalizing them is just not acceptable to me. 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."

The interview is one of a series with presidential candidates being released by the NCTE Action Fund in a campaign called Transform the White House. Today's inaugural interviews also include talks with two other Democratic presidential aspirants, U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The next one to be posted will be with U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

In his interview, Booker also spoke about violence against trans people and the attacks on trans rights by Donald Trump's administration.

On the high number of murders of trans Americans, the New Jersey senator said, "This is something that should have everyone in this country concerned, and frankly, outraged." Regarding Trump's anti-trans agenda, such as his military ban and rollback of nondiscrimination protections, Booker promised that as president, he would not only "stop the backsliding ... but more importantly, advance and gain ground." He noted that he is an original cosponsor of the Equality Act, which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity nationwide.

Gillibrand spoke of the courage of transgender people: "I think, for someone who's transgender, it takes enormous courage to be the person that you are. I think it takes so much bravery to identify in the way you want to be identified. And I think every time a transgender person self-identifies and introduces himself or herself or their selves to their community, it is an act of courage. It's an act of bravery."

Sanders talked about what he would do to combat hatred: "I think what a Sanders administration is about is pretty simple. It's to fight discrimination in all of its forms. And I know that the trans community has been, in sometimes very violent and deadly ways, been a victim of that hatred. 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."

Watch all three interviews below.

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