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The Life and Death of Nex Benedict

Trans youth deserve to grow into trans adults.

By danny's world Published 3 months ago 5 min read
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Note: Nex's friends have stated that Nex was transmasculine and used he/him and they/them pronouns interchangeably. Throughout this article, I will be using he/they pronouns to refer to Nex.

_____________________________________________

In the United States, an estimated 1.4% - 300,000 people - aged thirteen to seventeen identify as transgender. Globally, between two and eight percent of youth identify as transgender. Despite the indignation of transphobes everywhere, records of transgender children date as far back as 1930 - though they certainly existed long before this. A common belief held by those opposed to these facts is that transgender kids are forced to transition, or that their identity is pushed onto them by a parent or guardian. Trans kids know who they are. Studies have shown that an understanding of gender identity is established between the ages of three and five, and that, although children can be conditioned into gender-based social behaviours, their personal sense of identity cannot be influenced.

In 2022, American pediatrics did a study on three hundred transgender children between the ages of three and twelve. This study followed the journeys of these children for five years, and showed that ninety four percent of them still identified as trans at the study's end. On average, children begin to identify as trans at the age of six, although it may take many years for them to fully understand the nuances of personal identity. Regardless, children understand themselves and their identities more completely than even their parents, and deserve to be taken seriously and shown acceptance.

In August 2023, the governor of Oklahoma signed Senate Bill 615: a deeply transphobic order to limit the definitions of man, woman, father, mother, boy, and girl. This order not only dismisses the existence of intersex Americans, it also greatly endangers trans and non-binary people throughout the state. Although Republicans argue they are protecting women and children, these orders are not - and have never been - interested in the rights of women or children. In 2022, Oklahoma became the first state to prohibit the self-identification of non-binary genders. In addition, students are prohibited from using school restrooms that contradict their assigned genders, and are legally forbidden from accessing gender affirming care. Furthermore, legislation in 2024 has already introduced more than fifty anti-LGBTQ+ bills: most of which focus on banning the ability to change sex markers on identification, and introducing educational curriculum to teach gender as an inherent biological trait.

Children are not born hateful. Hate is preached by insecure cowards with fragile egos - and oftentimes, hateful children grow into hateful adults. Only a few months after Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 615, an Oklahoma high schooler named Nex Benedict became a victim of transphobic bullying by other students. Nex was born in Texas in 2008, formally adopted and raised by their grandmother, Sue. At the time of his death, Nex lived in Owasso, Oklahoma, and attended Owasso High School. In 2022, a teacher at Nex's high school was personally targeted by Chaya Raichik, a right-wing stochastic terrorist, after voicing his support for trans and gender non-conforming students. This incident thrust the high school into the public eye, and later led to the teacher's resignation.

Nex with their cat Zeus

Nex was a non-binary honour student, animal lover, and Minecraft fan. They loved drawing, reading, video games, and spending time with their friends. According to Nex's guardian Sue, he had been a target of bullying for months; Sue stated that she first became aware of this in early 2023, but was unaware of how quickly the bullying progressed. In February 2024, Nex was targeted in their school by three girls. The girls had verbally abused them in the past: calling them names, following them, even throwing things at them. In spite of this, Nex never reported them, as he believed nothing would be done.

According to statements from Nex, Sue, and Nex's friends, the altercation happened on February 7 in a bathroom at their high school. The group of girls followed Nex to the bathroom, where they began to gossip and laugh about Nex and his friends. A defensive act in which Nex poured water on the girls was later labelled by law enforcement as an assault that began the fight as a whole. After being beaten unconscious by the girls, Nex did not receive medical attention, and received a two-week suspension from their school division for pouring liquid on a student. On the evening of February 7, after being examined in hospital and questioned by police, Nex fell asleep with a headache. On the evening of February 8, after collapsing at home, Nex died on their way to the hospital.

Following Nex's death, public outrage roared across Oklahoma and America. Many are adamant that the attack by the girls was a targeted hate crime, a result of Chaya Raichik's previous attack on their school division. Chaya has denied any responsibility. Oklahoma's Superintendent of Public Schools has not commented publicly on Nex's death, but has been called to step down and take responsibility for the events that transpired. During the weekend following Nex's death, an Oklahoma LBGTQ+ support line received over two hundred calls, more than three times its usual amount. It's believed that Nex died of his injuries following the attack, but no charges have been pressed due to a lack of proof of Nex's manner of death.

Nex's funeral was held on February 15. Vigils were held to honour them throughout Oklahoma and the USA between February 23 and 25, and attended by hundreds of LGBTQ+ people and supporters. On February 26, at least forty students at Owasso High School walked out in a peaceful protest against transphobia and bullying. Nex's guardian, Sue, stated that in her distress and the newness of her knowledge of Nex's gender identity, she mistakenly referred to him in an obituary by his birth name. This has lead to their deadname being used repeatedly in news articles and on social media.

a screenshot provided by Nex's friend

Nex Benedict should still be alive. Regardless of whether their death was a direct result of the attack by the girls, Nex and thousands of kids like him are targeted, injured, and killed on a daily basis for being their true selves. Trans children deserve to be believed, protected, and accepted, and we as a society must be loud about trans rights. If we aren't loud, no one will notice us. If we don't stand up for the rights and acceptance of trans children, nobody will.

RIP Nex Benedict

2008-2024

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Sources:

https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/press/transgender-estimate-press-release/

https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/150/2/e2022057693/187006/Persistence-of-Transgender-Gender-Identity-Among?autologincheck=redirected

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/apr/01/trans-children-history-jules-gill-peterson-interview

https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/transgender-kids-1.6442880

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/how-a-new-womens-bill-of-rights-in-oklahoma-targets-trans-rights

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Nex_Benedict

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/nex-benedict-dead-oklahoma-b2501844.html

https://www.cnn.com/2024/02/25/us/oklahoma-nex-benedict-death-police-video/index.html

To send aide to Nex's family, donate to their Gofundme.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/dagny-benedict

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About the Creator

danny's world

i'm a a queer writer, poet, cat lover, and author. i'm passionate about psychology, human rights, and creating places where lgbt+ youth and young adults feel safe, represented, and supported.

29 | m.

follow me on threads for more.

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