By Kirby Neumann-Rea • Of the News-Register • 

Letter To Readers: Remembering Nex, seeking respect for non-binary people

When tragic incidents happen time zones away we tend not to focus on how they affect us or anyone around us. Some might feel that way about the death of 16-year-old Nex Benedict after they were attacked by fellow teens in the restroom of their Oklahoma high school.

Fifteen people, many of them emotionally affected by Nex’s death, gathered Monday in the First Baptist Church courtyard for a candlelight vigil. Those who assembled supported one another, adding a warmth that took the edge off the 38-degree evening air.

Several trans youth and a binary and non-binary adult spoke. In this space it’s best to let their words do the speaking.

“We are here to honor and remember Nex Benedict. We are all here for the adults who have suffered bullying and endured it because of who we are,” said Deidre Moore, the vigil organizer.

The death of Benedict has made national news, and local people are impacted. In what school officials called “a physical altercation,” Nex was beaten in the school restroom on Feb. 7 and died of their injuries the next day. Included in the facts of the case is that Oklahoma schools ban students from using school toilets and changing rooms that do not align with their sex at birth. In the days following Nex’s death, the Oklahoma public school superintendent persisted in saying that “there’s not multiple genders. There’s two. That’s how God made us.”

“The bathroom is one of the most dangerous places for non-binary and trans people,” Deidre said Monday in McMinnville.

Deidre advises Together Works, which she described as “the oldest Queer organization in Oregon,” and “a support and social club, where we come together in a place where we can all be out.”

She said LGBTQ community and queer groups around the country have come together to honor Nex’s memory.

“This death comes on the grinding heels of a near-national moment to negate the rights of non-binary people …” Deidre said, citing bills in legislatures attempting to deny health care, and others barring schools from using chosen pronouns or acknowledging any gender designation other than one assigned at birth.

“Tonight we remember those folks and Nex, to try to make sure this never happens again.”

Evan Hall, also age 16 and a McMinnville School District student since the fourth grade, said they have experienced little physical abuse, but plenty of online and in-person bullying. Through tears they said, “What’s really hard about this … being the same age as (Nex) is troubling, knowing that although I may be safe in Oregon, my peers and my fellow trans youth are not … for a lot of people, it’s about ‘protecting the children,’ when the truth is, it’s about protecting their beliefs, and securing their ability to hate freely without repercussions, without justice.

“Although we didn’t know Nex personally, I think it’s a really great thing we got together to celebrate their life.

“One of the things I just can’t tolerate anymore … is people saying that XYZ age is ‘too young to know who you are’ and ‘it’s just a phase or you’ll grow out of it.’ I’ve been non-binary since I was born, I just didn’t have the words, and Nex did have the words for it but sadly did not have the protection. That’s the part that, sadly, we’re still working on.”

For more information about Together Works, call 971-241-8256, or email

Kirby Neumann-Rea

Managing Editor



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