Transgender Students Are Unprotected in School

by Vins

Amid growing numbers of openly trans students in public schools, and an accompanying transphobic backlash, came the devastating news of a student’s death that might have been prevented.

On February 7, 2024, at Owasso High School in Owasso, Oklahoma, 16-year-old transmasculine sophomore Nex Benedict was jumped in the girls’ bathroom by three older students, all girls. According to Nex’s grandmother, the three had bullied Nex for months, starting roughly when the government prohibited trans individuals in Oklahoma from using school bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

Nex told their grandmother that Nex had hit their head on the floor during the fight, which was eventually broken up by two bystanders and a school employee. 

Though Nex left school that day with multiple visible bruises and a possible concussion, the incident went unreported to school authorities. Police were called only after Nex arrived at the hospital. Nex received care for the pain and bruises and was sent home. 

Unfortunately, Nex was rushed back to the hospital the next day and died shortly after.  The cause of their death is still unknown, but many believe it could be due to injuries faced in the bathroom the previous day.

The name, image and example of Nex Benedict should be widely known, and all anti-trans activists should be challenged to publicly deplore Nex’s death. Many fear Nex will not be the last martyr to the cause.

Sources:

Christopher Wiggins, “Oklahoma police say bullied nonbinary teen Nex Benedict ‘did not die as a result of trauma,” Advocate, February 21, 2024.

Christopher Wiggins, “Oklahoma transgender student dies after allegedly assaulted by students at school,” Advocate, February 20, 2024.

Student Researcher: Mikayla Miller (Frostburg State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Andy Duncan (Frostburg State University)