Activists Call for Action on Circumstances Surrounding Death of Nex Benedict

Nex Benedict (he/they) was a 16-year-old non-binary student who lived in Owasso, Oklahoma. They were of Choctaw ancestry, and died on February 8, 2024. The circumstances surrounding Nex Benedict’s death have been under intense scrutiny as national outrage has erupted across the country. Activists have strengthened their call for action on more protection for transgender youth, especially in school systems. Nex Benedict had reportedly been bullied extensively for their gender identity for over a year in the time leading up to their death. 

According to a 2022 bill signed into law by Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, students in public school systems must use the bathrooms that match the assigned sex that is listed on their birth certificates. Nex was harassed in the bathroom and then attacked by a group of female students who had been bullying them for months. This assault led to Nex being hospitalized, and the next day Nex was pronounced dead. Studies show that transgender individuals are more likely to be attacked themselves in restrooms than to be perpetrators of an attack, the latter of which being a narrative that is often furthered to advance anti-trans legislation. A study conducted by the Williams Institute of UCLA’s school of law found that transgender individuals are four times more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than cisgender individuals. 

Recently, new information on Nex’s death has come out, and the Oklahoma prosecutor of the case said that there are no charges to file as Nex Benedict’s death has now been ruled a suicide. While the autopsy ruled their death a suicide, severe abrasions and bruises were found on Nex’s body from the assault, as well as head trauma. Nex Benedict’s death was ruled a suicide, but it was a death that many activists have said was preventable. Had Nex not been assaulted and subjected to extensive and severe bullying, they might still be alive today. Activists have called for more action to protect transgender people as Nex’s family mourns the death of their child.

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