Do Not Let the Names of Trans and Non-Binary Youth Become a Memory

by Nicole Poindexter

A year and a half before Nex Benedict’s death, I was among the folks who sounded the alarm about the divisive rhetoric, laws and policies in Oklahoma, which had resulted in the closure of the Roy G. Biv Clinic, a healthcare provider for trans and non-binary youth. We raised our voices and warned those in decision-making positions that if they continued this rhetoric of hate and division, targeting vulnerable populations, that it would cause irreparable harm and even death.

I am devastated to know that we were right.

As we mark two months since Nex died, we continue to see efforts across the country to further marginalize trans and non-binary people. And as legislative sessions near their end in numerous states, the pace of anti-LGBTQ+ attacks crossing the finish line has accelerated. MAGA politicians in certain state legislatures are doubling down on hate, while ignoring the pressing problems facing their constituents. And it is deepening the state of emergency for millions of LGBTQ+ Americans. There are now 13 anti-equality bills that have been signed into law in 2024, including the recent signings of a ban on healthcare for transgender folks in Idaho and a bill prohibiting doctors from providing healthcare to transgender youth in Wyoming. Our children are paying for the rhetoric that is happening in this country, and it goes all the way up to our leaders at the top.

Which brings me back to Oklahoma. Oklahoma Gov. Stitt wants his state to be a top 10 state. Right now, what I see is that Oklahoma ranks in the top 10 in hate. But Oklahoma, you have a chance. For many of us who are parents of trans children, this is a time of stress and fear. When the Roy G. Biv Clinic closed, my child was a patient. I saw the writing on the wall. I held the doctors as they cried, knowing their patients like my child were losing what was in many instances life-saving resources.

Like many families, we had to look at our options. Should we stay in Oklahoma and fight? You bet I wanted to, but my child was getting pushed down the stairs. He was getting called horrible names. His identity wasn't respected, and additional legislative threats loomed. The rhetoric was getting worse. Because of that, we made the incredibly difficult decision to break up our family, and I moved some of my children to Colorado. Then the news of Nex’s death reached me, and my biggest fear came true: a non-binary or trans child was harmed by the rhetoric coming out of the Oklahoma state Department of Education.

Nick Oxford/AP for HRC
Nick Oxford/AP for HRC

We are at a crossroads here in Oklahoma and across the country. If we don't get active, and we don't say this will never happen again, the names of more trans and non-binary children could become nothing but a memory, and we cannot let that happen.

In conjunction with local leaders on the ground in Oklahoma, the Human Rights Campaign is demanding our legislature remove Ryan Walters, the Oklahoma superintendent of public instruction, from his position, along with Chaya Raichik, the founder of the anti-LGBTQ+ hate account “LibsOfTikTok” whom Walters appointed to a state agency advisory committee that oversees curriculum censorship. We are demanding they stop passing the types of laws that harm kids like Nex and my child. And we are calling for a full and thorough investigation into Walters and the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

The time is now. If we don't act, we are complicit. We have to show up, vote, and make our voices heard. If we do not act, there will be more parents who are burying their children because we aren't stopping the rhetoric.

Nicole Poindexter
Brett Deering/AP for HRC

This work will not be accomplished in one night. It will not be done in the course of a weekend. And to be honest with you, it may not be done this election cycle. If we do not take this opportunity to exercise our voices through our votes, then we will see more anti-LGBTQ+ laws enacted nationwide. This means America will become less safe for trans, non-binary and LGBTQ+ folks. Hate-filled legislation will not stop because of just the voices of the trans and non-binary members of our community. We ALL have to stand up in Nex’s name because he cannot.

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Join us in honoring Nex’s memory and fighting for our LGBTQ+ community by committing to take action. Whether it's donating your time, talent or treasure, there are so many ways for you to make an impact. You can phone bank, you can text, you can knock on doors, you can stuff envelopes. There is a job for everybody and many hands make light work — but we have a lot of work ahead of us.


Enough is enough! Oklahomans — and every kid across the country — deserve better. Find the latest news and helpful resources to support trans and gender-expansive youth.

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Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters is a dangerous, corrupt and bigoted politician with a horrific anti-equality record. He must be removed from office!

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