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Why Nex Benedict’s Death Is Important

A queer teenager was murdered recently; we should see this as a wake-up call.
Serafina Kubersky ’26

On February 8, a non-binary high schooler named Nex Benedict died following a brutal fight with two other students at their high school. It’s unknown whether the fight and their death were related, but given the proximity of the two events, I’d be surprised if they weren’t. 

This event is the result of a long chain of anti-LGBTQIA+ bills and laws passed in Oklahoma that have made Queer people’s lives in the state incredibly difficult and has likely led to an uptick in violence like this.

When I heard about the story, I was incredibly alarmed. According to The Washington Blade, queer people in Oklahoma have been discriminated against massively and systemically as of late with a series of hateful bills—something I was already at least somewhat aware of—but clearly, it’s come to a head when kids are being killed by other students their own ages over it. For myself and, I assume, other queer teenagers, this is terrifying; it speaks to a rising amount of hate and vitriol against us that’s truly unacceptable and that I’m scared thinking about. 

The words of people in power have an impact on the youth and this shows it. Without the hateful bills being passed in Oklahoma, I believe that maybe this wouldn’t have happened. Maybe hatred wouldn’t be encouraged like it has been there. Maybe a person with a whole life ahead of them wouldn’t have had it ripped away so soon. 

It alarms me to think that hatred against queer people is being progressively normalized when not too long ago—as recently as five years ago, even—things seemed to be looking up for the LGBTQIA+ community. I firmly feel that our country and many others are moving backward and it’s terrifying to see. This is the death of a real person and should not be taken lightly 

I’ve been seeing a lot of denial about the cause of Nex’s assault online. I’ve seen claims that the assault was not due to their gender identity and claims that their death was not related to the assault. Two things I find incredibly difficult to believe, given they were assaulted in a gendered bathroom and died only a day after the fight. 

Seeing the circumstances of Benedict’s death and the reactions of some individuals to the news, I can’t help but think back to the murder of Brianna Ghey and the case that followed. On February 11, 2023, Ghey—a 16-year-old transgender girl—was stabbed to death in England due to her gender identity.

When this news broke, despite texts between the murderers explicitly saying that they were doing this because she was transgender among other evidence, I saw many people trying to deny that that was the true reasoning for the murder at the time. This was to the point that it took almost a year for the trial against the murderers to be completed and for them to be found guilty, with them only having been found guilty on December 20, 2023, and their sentence only having been decided on February 2, 2024. 

I bring Ghey’s case up to say that denialism of the true causes of hate crimes is a very pervasive issue. I saw this last year with Ghey’s murderers, and I’m seeing it again this year with those of Nex Benedict. Some people are trying to avoid the true causes of these murders to erase the experiences of queer people.

Anyone who supports the actions and words of those in power who have caused this should take a moment and ask themselves why they feel this way. 

Is it truly to “protect the children?” I don’t think so. Not if their attempts to “protect the children’” are leading to those same children dying. 

This should be a wake-up call for these people. Nex was a person with goals and dreams and now their life has been cut short. Who knows how many others this could happen to if we don’t do something about it?




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    Noah YoonMar 21, 2024 at 10:42 am

    I fully agree with this article. If you actually want to protect kids you’d follow the statistics and facts and look at the fact that statistically speaking, gender conforming care saves lives. Recently the cause of Nex’s death was released and according to the medical examiner it was suicide, but to only say that neglects what Nex, a 16 year old CHILD had to live through. If you believe that the girls in the bathroom bullying Nex, were “doing nothing wrong” or “just being kids” you are part of the problem. If you are a part of bullying like this you have blood on your hands. Lawmakers who try to force kids to fit into nice neat molds have blood on their hands. Nex’s school has blood on its hands. It is not hard to support gender non-conforming students. ASK THEM WHAT THEY NEED TO SUCCEED. We do it for kids with disabilities, deficits, mental illnesses. Maybe that means using a new name for them or helping establish a solid network of support for these kinds of issues. The fact of the matter is that Nex’s was not only preventable but it was the 1.8 millionth wake up call.