Mauree Turner Is Looking Beyond the Ballot Box

“I am not sure I can continue to play a role in the system,” they begin to say. “I’m not sure that being representation is… I am not sure if I can handle it, right? I also want to consistently engage in something that’s creating resources for communities, and not just taking away.”

Maybe one day, when they are no longer Representative Turner, they will be free to discuss everything they have been through in office. For now, Turner only tells me that the censure vote “didn’t feel great.”

Rogelio Esparza Cervantes

Turner is comparatively eager to talk about their personal life, the nuances of which have been flattened by a press that tends to focus on their identities rather than who they are as a person. They are a Capricorn sun, Gemini moon, and Scorpio rising. They have recently started doing yoga therapy every Wednesday. They adore their nephew, who forces the Capricorn in them to unplug from work once in a while. They also recently marked their one-year anniversary with their partner, MJ, who has a strange penchant for Kid Rock— his music, not his politics. (Hilariously, Turner censored the singer’s name in their celebratory Instagram poststyling it as “K*d R*ck.”)

In general, Turner has never been one for the spotlight; they are, per their own admission, better with animals than they are with people. Campaigning for public office was as much a surprise to them as it was to anyone else. “My life is always kind of a series of quick pivots, it feels like,” Turner tells me. Their voice on our calls is soft but assured, inflected with a warm drawl they developed growing up in Ardmore, a town roughly 30 miles from the Texas border. “At this point in time in my life, I thought I’d be a veterinarian working in Montana somewhere, or maybe at the Disney Safari or something.”

As a child, Turner was close with their mother, who now helps co-parent the four-year-old Anthony. Turner’s father was in and out of jail throughout their childhood for minor property crimes, although their mom did her best to bring the family along for visitations. A self-described “latchkey kid,” Turner spent afternoons at the local library, where they eventually started volunteering, handing out popcorn and lemonade during movie screenings. “I thought it was so cool to walk into your public library and the librarians know you by name,” they say, adding with a laugh, “and I don’t know how no one knew that I was queer.”

Although Turner didn’t have precise language for it yet, they came out for the first time in the second grade. “I don’t see any difference in boys and girls, other than what restroom they use,” they told their mom, “and that’s not really any of my business.”

“Back then, I thought I was just telling my mom I was a lesbian,” they recall. “But it was like, ‘Oh, I see myself like that, too.’”



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