Last week, Nex Benedict, an indigenous non-binary 16-year old from Oklahoma died after being attacked by 3 teens at their school. This attack was preceded by what Nex’s grandmother described as “sustained bullying” by peers at their school with no intervention by school officials. 

Nex, who “had a light in them that was so big” deserved to grow old. They deserved to live as their whole, beautiful self without the constant othering and attacks it brought. They deserved to feel safe, seen and supported.

All of our beloved trans children deserve to grow into trans elders. 

The onslaught of targeted attacks from state legislatures and elected officials towards trans youth is creating hostile living and learning environments, denying them necessary health care access and seeking to remove them from public life all together. 

In Nex’s home state of Oklahoma, anti-trans bills proliferate the assembly’s legislative agenda. Last year’s session saw at least 45 anti-LGBTQ+ laws targeting all aspects of life and passed measures that criminalize providing gender affirming care to minors, banned transgender girls and women from participating in women’s sports and prohibited nonbinary gender markers on state birth certificates, the first ever ban of this type in the country.

These attacks scapegoat queer youth as a part of a large strategy to advance right wing Christian nationalism and remove queer and trans folks from existence altogether. However, In the essence of our mere existence we have always resisted. 

We have held ourselves through grief and basked in the healing power of queer joy. Let us do the work to necessary to  create beloved community.  Let us do the work necessary to create and steward a world worthy of our people.

As we mourn Nex, and all of our other beautiful trans siblings made ancestors too soon, we must remember that our righteous indignation is sacred. Our grief is sacred. Our rage is sacred. We are sacred.  We must use it to catalyze us into collective action and deeper community. Let us be salve, balm, healing for one another. Let us continue to protect and defend our communities. Let us continue to organize towards living free from fear. Let us do the work to make liberation in our lifetime a reality. 

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