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Monday, April 22, 2024

UC Davis LGBTQIA+ Resource Center hosts vigil for Nex Benedict on Feb. 29

The center aimed to create a safe space for queer individuals grieving


By BENJAMIN CARRILLO – campus@theaggie.org


On Feb. 29, the UC Davis LGBTQIA+ Resource Center hosted a vigil of remembrance for Nex Benedict. Benedict was a non-binary high school student from Oklahoma who died on Feb. 7, one day after being attacked and severely injured by other students in a school bathroom. Angel Bernardino, the trans advocate and student services specialist for the center, spoke on the importance of hosting this vigil.  

“Nex represents the reality of what’s going to happen if the legislature and schools don’t take a stand for trans kids,” Bernardino said. “[The vigil] was a space for anyone to come in whenever they had time to give flowers to Nex and other trans individuals who have been murdered. It was mostly a safe space for people to grieve.”

The vigil also included a place where community members could write both their thoughts about the tragedy and condolences to Benedict with no judgment. 

Benedict was also Native American. While the specific origins of the tribe that they initially came from are unknown, Benedict was living on a Cherokee reservation at the time of their death.

“We do recognize that the center isn’t a space that all communities feel 100% welcome in, specifically the Indigenous community,” Bernardino said. “Luckily, the Native Nest is doing a great job and [helping] that part of the student body. We wanted to do our part of recognizing Nex’s identity as non-binary and also recognize that they were a child. We should grieve any child that passes from bullying in the school system.”

Amira Inzunza, a fourth-year psychology and Chicana/o studies double major and trans advocacy community coordinator, spoke on their experience as an attendee at the event in support of Nex Benedict and the non-binary community. 

“For a lot of people in that moment, it was a get-together for those in the queer community,” Inzunza said. “There was also a line where we could write affirmations and thoughts about the trans experience, and for mine, I wrote that I wish we would just stop being killed. In that moment, though, it was more of a joyful get-together with staff coming to show support. We all felt comfortable being in community with everyone.” 

Inzunza also spoke on the tragedy of Benedict and the future of the LGBTQIA+ community if this lack of protection for transgender lives continues. 

“Dealing with the cards that you’re dealt with, and just wanting to use the restroom [that ended] in [Benedict’s] demise, is tragic,” Inzunza said. “I think that Nex is someone that we all saw ourselves in: a queer individual [being] bullied. What UC Davis can learn from this situation is to add more gender-neutral bathrooms on campus and create a safer space for non-binary and queer individuals.”

Written by: Benjamin Carrillo — campus@theaggie.org


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