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Tallahassee holds vigil to honor murdered trans Oklahoma teen

By staff

Tallahassee holds vigil to honor murdered trans Oklahoma teen. | Fight Back! News/staff

Tallahassee, FL – On the evening of March 24, 25 community members gathered to honor the life of Nex Benedict, an Oklahoma transgender teenager who was murdered. The vigil was held at Common Ground Books, a local LGBTQ bookstore.

Nex Benedict, who used he/they pronouns, was brutally beaten by classmates in their Owasso high school bathroom on February 7 for being transgender. Due to Oklahoma’s “Don’t Say Gay” laws, similar to those in Florida, transgender youth are restricted to using the bathroom that matches their assigned gender at birth. This led to an altercation between Benedict and his classmates. Benedict was rushed to the hospital for treatment and succumbed to his injuries the next day.

Since last month, the Oklahoma state legislature and Owasso school board have come under fire for systematically repressing and silencing transgender students and refusing to accept accountability for their part in Benedict’s death. Vigils have been held across the country to honor Nex Benedict and demand justice for all trans youth under attack by the right wing.

The case has come under even more scrutiny since medical examiners ruled Benedict’s death a suicide by overdose. LGBTQ activists across the nation have spoken out against the ruling.

“We have to remember that Nex Benedict’s death was a murder, not a suicide. Nex was failed by every institution that should have protected him. We need to fight for a world where we don’t need to hold any more vigils for trans kids who have been failed by the adults around them,” said Delilah Pierre, president of the Tallahassee Community Action Committee.

Sam Beal is an employee at Common Ground Books who helps run the Gender Affirming Closet, a place where trans youth can receive gender affirming clothing and supplies at no cost. Beal said in their speech, “Being able to provide trans kids in Tallahassee with a safe space to be themselves has been the greatest honor. Many times, over the past month I couldn’t help but wonder what Nex would have looked like in our space, surrounded by people who accepted them as they are.”

Kenvonte Ford, representing Equality Florida, inspired hope in the crowd, “22 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced this past legislative session, but through our organizing we were able to kill and neutralize 21 of those bills. Things like this show us that people have power to create change.”

The vigil closed with attendees lighting candles in Benedict’s honor.

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