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Nex Benedict: Trans activists, WH seize on ‘non-binary’ teen’s death as full report awaited

The death of a nonbinary student one day after a fight inside an Oklahoma high school bathroom has led to national outcry and White House condemnation. Owasso police say the investigation into 16-year-old Nex Benedict’s death on February 8 is ongoing, with the state medical examiner’s office ruling it a suicide. Family members have said […]

The death of a nonbinary student one day after a fight inside an Oklahoma high school bathroom has led to national outcry and White House condemnation.

Owasso police say the investigation into 16-year-old Nex Benedict’s death on February 8 is ongoing, with the state medical examiner’s office ruling it a suicide. Family members have said that their child was a victim of bullying at the school because Nex identified as nonbinary, neither male nor female. A complete report on Benedict’s death is scheduled to be released on March 27. 

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre addressed the preliminary autopsy report from the podium at Friday’s press briefing, calling Benedict’s death “devastating.” 


“As the president said yesterday, every young person deserves to have the fundamental right and freedom to be who they are and feel safe and supported at school and in their communities,” Jean-Pierre said. “Bullying is completely unacceptable, and it is on all of us to take reports of bullying seriously.” 

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This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

The Benedict family released a statement through an attorney emphasizing that though Nex’s death was ruled a suicide, there are “other pertinent portions of the report” that should not be “overshadowed by the ‘classification’ of Nex’s death.” 

“Rather than allow incomplete accounts to take hold and spread any further, the Benedicts feel compelled to provide a summary of those findings which have not yet been released by the Medical Examiner’s office, particularly those that contradict allegations of the assault on Nex being insignificant,” the family attorney said. 

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Details released by the family include that the teen suffered non-lethal head and neck trauma, including contusions, lacerations and abrasions. An Abraded contusion on Nex’s chest was consistent with having occurred during CPR, according to the portion of the full medical examiner’s report released by the family. 

“The Benedicts continue to call on our schools, administrators, lawmakers, and communities to come together to prevent any other family from having to suffer through the heartache now borne by Nex’s loved ones,” the attorney said. “Reforms creating school environments that are built upon the pillars of respect, inclusion and grace, and aim to eliminate bullying and hate, are the types of change that all involved should be able to rally behind.” 

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LGBTQ+ advocates have blamed Nex’s death on gender identity-based bullying and harassment, as well as “rhetoric and policies” advanced by Republicans in Oklahoma — such as bills that prohibit children from receiving cross-sex hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery. They have called for the resignation of Ryan Walters, Oklahoma’s superintendent of public instruction, who has said there are only two genders — male and female — and that Oklahoma schools would not allow students to use preferred names or pronouns that differ from their birth sex. 

“We want to be clear, whether Nex died as a direct result of injuries sustained in the brutal hate-motivated attack at school or not, Nex’s death is a result of being the target of physical and emotional harm because of who Nex was,” Freedom Oklahoma, the state’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy group, said in a February statement reacting to Benedict’s death.

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“This harm is absolutely related to the rhetoric and policies that are commonplace at the Oklahoma Legislature, the State Department of Education, and the Governor’s office, with regard to dehumanizing 2STGNC+ people,” the group said.

Walters has said Benedict’s tragic death has been exploited by the left for political purposes

“I think it’s terrible that we’ve had some radical leftists who decided to run with a political agenda and try to weave a narrative that hasn’t been true,” he told the New York Times in an interview in February. “You’ve taken a tragedy, and you’ve had some folks try to exploit it for political gain.”

“We’ve been told [Benedict’s] death wasn’t directly related to the fight at school,” he added. 

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The Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s report said the teen died from a combined overdose of Prozac and Benadryl. The fight in the school bathroom happened on the previous day. 

In video footage from the hospital on the day of the altercation, February 7, Nex tells a police officer that the teen and a friend group were the subject of ridicule over the way they dressed. Benedict, who preferred they/them pronouns, claims that in the bathroom the students said “something like: Why do they laugh like that?” referring to Nex and friends.

“And so I went up there and I poured water on them, and then all three of them came at me,” the teen tells the officer from a hospital bed.

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“They came at me. They grabbed on my hair. I grabbed onto them. I threw one of them into a paper towel dispenser, and then they got my legs out from under me and got me on the ground,” the teen says in the video, according to the Associated Press. 

The students allegedly beat the teen to the point of blacking out. 

The next day, paramedics responded to a 911 call at the Benedict family’s house and performed CPR on an unresponsive Nex before rushing her to the hospital, where the teen later died.

On Thursday, the day after Nex’s death was ruled a suicide, the White House released a statement saying that President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden were “heartbroken” by the loss. 

“Every young person deserves to have the fundamental right and freedom to be who they are, and feel safe and supported at school and in their communities. Nex Benedict, a kid who just wanted to be accepted, should still be here with us today,” Biden said. 

The president called on the nation to stand in solidarity with nonbinary and transgender people and “recommit to our work to end discrimination and address the suicide crisis impacting too many nonbinary and transgender children.”

“Bullying is hurtful and cruel, and no one should face the bullying that Nex did. Parents and schools must take reports of bullying seriously,” Biden said.

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