What we lose in the Shadows (A father and daughter True Crime Podcast)

Nex benedict: An Oklahoma tragedy

April 16, 2024 Jameson Keys & Caroline
Nex benedict: An Oklahoma tragedy
What we lose in the Shadows (A father and daughter True Crime Podcast)
More Info
What we lose in the Shadows (A father and daughter True Crime Podcast)
Nex benedict: An Oklahoma tragedy
Apr 16, 2024
Jameson Keys & Caroline

Send us a Text Message.


The hallways of schools should be passages to learning and growth, not battlegrounds where LGBTQ+ youth fight for acceptance. We tackle the issue of bullying, the grave risks involved in mandated reporting, and the heart-wrenching consequences it can have when a young person is forced out of the shadows into an unaccepting world. Tragedy strikes a somber chord as we recount the lost lives of Nex Benedict and Brianna Jai, symbolizing the stark reality of what happens when societal support systems fail. Their stories are not just tales of sorrow, but a call to action for the importance of creating inclusive environments that nurture every student, and the urgent need for support that can mean the difference between life and death.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Nex_Benedict

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/oklahoma-anti-trans-bathroom-bill-b2500559.html

Contact us at: whatweloseintheshadows@gmail.com



Background music by Michael Shuller Music

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.


The hallways of schools should be passages to learning and growth, not battlegrounds where LGBTQ+ youth fight for acceptance. We tackle the issue of bullying, the grave risks involved in mandated reporting, and the heart-wrenching consequences it can have when a young person is forced out of the shadows into an unaccepting world. Tragedy strikes a somber chord as we recount the lost lives of Nex Benedict and Brianna Jai, symbolizing the stark reality of what happens when societal support systems fail. Their stories are not just tales of sorrow, but a call to action for the importance of creating inclusive environments that nurture every student, and the urgent need for support that can mean the difference between life and death.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Nex_Benedict

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/oklahoma-anti-trans-bathroom-bill-b2500559.html

Contact us at: whatweloseintheshadows@gmail.com



Background music by Michael Shuller Music

Speaker 1:

Good morning and welcome to what we Lose in the Shadows a father-daughter true crime podcast. My name is Jameson Keys.

Speaker 2:

I'm Caroline. Happy Tuesday, caroline, hi, happy Tuesday.

Speaker 1:

And happy tax day.

Speaker 2:

Oh my God. Tuesday caroline hi, happy tuesday and happy tax day. Oh my god. If there's anything that gets every single person upset, it's tax day.

Speaker 1:

Maybe not, maybe not the accountants, I don't know no, certainly not the accountants right well, it depends on the type of accountant right, if you're a tax accountant it's a busy time, but you're probably taking a vacation here Not in the not so distant future. With all this stuff they go through as well.

Speaker 2:

Literally filing taxes is so stressful for no reason, like I don't know why, the whole time I'm thinking like am I going to go to jail? No, I know, I know, but you know, like it's just, it's so stressful. I'm like, oh my God, I'm going to owe them hundreds of thousands of dollars if I don't do this right. I don't know why there's so much stress on the line.

Speaker 1:

It is stressful and I know that for myself. Towards the end of last week I was like, oh my God, taxes are due on Monday and I always wait until the last minute because taxes are just such an arduous kind of a situation. Agreed, but, it's behind us, we're both filed.

Speaker 2:

We're both good, thank god. Trigger warnings today are transphobia, hate crime, severe bullying and suicide. Today, we'll be discussing the case of next benedict. This has been a really popular case in the media. I don't know if you've seen it a little bit, yeah, yeah, so it's been super popular, especially in the queer community. Um, this is the second of the two part comparison case of violence towards the trans community, so if you haven't listened to the first part, which is the most recent episode launched, uh, titled Brianna Jai, go and do that first. After I tell you about this case, we're going to discuss the two cases together and kind of compare contrast.

Speaker 2:

In 2022, oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law. The law mandates that children use the bathroom that aligns with their birth sex, even if it doesn't align with their gender identity. For some, that may seem like no big deal, but for young children who identify differently than their assigned gender at birth, it's super upsetting. It requires them to go into a bathroom that's uncomfortable, surrounded by students whose gender they don't align with, and this often leads to urinary issues in trans people, especially older trans people, because they avoid bathrooms for as long as possible.

Speaker 1:

Understandable.

Speaker 2:

And for me, I know if I had to go into the men's bathroom I would be very uncomfortable. It would be hard to go to the bathroom, honestly. So the law states that in public schools in the state of Oklahoma, children must go to the bathroom that aligns with their gender at birth. If the school is found out of compliance with this law, the state will be able to cut their funding. Nice, ridiculous, so ridiculous. Parents are allowed to take action against the school if their children tell them that a child was not cooperating with the law craziness right I mean.

Speaker 2:

It's just it creates a really horrible, hostile, contentious culture at the school, which is an element no, this is a high school, high school, um, but it goes for elementary through high school for sure. In oklahoma, if a child does not follow this law, they can face disciplinary action. So oklahoma is a tough place to be queer or different in any way, especially as a child, it seems. Other laws that impact the queer community there are the ban of using gender neutral markers on birth certificates, even for adults. Minors are prevented from getting gender affirming care, and a requirement for all school employees to use names and genders given at birth, even after being asked to call them differently.

Speaker 1:

That doesn't seem right.

Speaker 2:

It's very disrespectful. Especially that last one just really kills me. I'm like cause I don't know, it's just like, it's such a simple act that means so much to someone. So like if someone goes up to you and says, prefer the name, whatever you know, it's just, it's so simple, it does not cost you anything to be respectful and nice, right, it's ridiculous and I just, I just can't believe that they require school employees to follow what a person does not want it's ridiculous, it's kind of archaic right it is.

Speaker 2:

It's ridiculous and it's just, it's so upsetting, especially for children, because you know adults like we learn to have a protective barrier, right, you know. But as children, you know we're very sensitive. I know that for me, I found, you know, just the slightest thing to be to be really hard to accept. You know you have to learn to build that like tolerance of um, of disrespect of different opinions. You have to learn to build that. So for children it can be really tough to swallow for sure, because you're still forming your own identity.

Speaker 1:

You're still right, you know you're not comfortable in your skin, regardless even if you're quote unquote, you know uh, you know straight, heterosexual, whatever you're still forming who you actually are, what you like, what you like and that sort of thing, and you're never more susceptible to you know bullying or to people to try to push you in a certain direction than you are when you're young. So, yeah, that's horrendous.

Speaker 2:

It's a really bad environment for queer youth, sure, and it's really sad for queer youth, um, and it's really sad. So ryan walters, the superintendent for the public schools in the state of oklahoma, also required that, or requires still to this day, that all school records align with the assigned sex at birth, regardless of the preferences of the child and or guardians nice yeah, in january of 2024, walters placed a far-right tiktoker who had no background in education, on a committee that advises the state board of education interesting what the her name is, chaya rachik, and she has a tiktok page that belittles lgbtq people, called libs of tiktok.

Speaker 2:

This happened two years after chaya had posted a tiktok making fun of nexus. To bring this back into, you know, nexus life making fun of nexus favorite teacher, who resigned later that year. So they put they, the superintendent for the public schools of the state, decided to put a far-right tick talker on the board of education that makes fun of lgbt people when we have lgbt youth far right, far left, I could care less, but bully and non-bully, which she's, this person seems like they are right.

Speaker 1:

That's an issue, that's a big issue.

Speaker 2:

It's just I don't know where that would fit in. I'm confused why they would even think that's I. I okay, the state public school board also requires that teacher. This is insane. The state public school board also requires that teachers report any identity preferences to parents, such as gender identity and sexual orientation, like I mean, if they hear rumors, if they hear, I mean, this promotes like a, like a big brother, I don't know environment of like students tattling on each other or even lying about each other just to get them in trouble my god, this sounds like nazi germany.

Speaker 1:

This sounds horrible now, and I know that's an overreach, I'm not comparing this to Nazi Germany, but at the same time they had that same thing going on. You had people that were kind of aligned with the Nazi party and they would have little tattletales and things like that, telling the people we think that they're possibly Jewish and that sort of thing.

Speaker 2:

Exactly, it's kind of similar to that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that these people are Nazis.

Speaker 1:

I'm not saying that at all, but at the same, time there have been so many times in history, even the history of this country, where you had people going through and like there were the whole the Red Scare during the 1950s that you would have to, you know, spy on people and say we think they're communists, and like there were actors that were kind of ostracized because of their political leanings and so on. It was a real weird I wasn't alive at that point, believe it or not, caroline. Surprising, but but, but something similar. I mean. It's like who cares what someone's orientation is and who cares if a child likes to consider themselves one thing or another? It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous, it's ridiculous. And we have far bigger problems, yes, to deal with.

Speaker 2:

And the school system has, but also this isn't a problem.

Speaker 1:

Well, no, but I mean, we have far bigger issues than what someone considers themselves, you know what makes them happy.

Speaker 2:

What makes them happy jesus fucking christ. Like what in the hell yeah?

Speaker 1:

why?

Speaker 2:

well, exactly, they just they pick on the vulnerable too, because they're mad that they can't pick on um or they can't, you know, control what other adults do in their life, right, so they pick on young children. They don't want them to get to the point where they're comfortable with themselves being queer, being trans, like they do not want that. And it's super frustrating to see because you know, I remember my own experience like and of course it was nothing as intense as this, but you know there were definitely bullies that tried to tell me that I was this or that because I was gay, and it was horrible. And you know there were definitely bullies that tried to tell me that I was this or that because I was gay.

Speaker 1:

And it was horrible.

Speaker 2:

Right, and you know, obviously this is a much more intense situation that next found themselves in. Really tragic and also so like the requirement of teachers to report on their students Ridiculous, but I mean this can also be extremely dangerous for youth who live in homophobic and transphobic houses. Sure, so like I mean, you know we've all met someone that would probably not be happy with their child's coming out as gay. Scary to think about if their child, who's young and vulnerable, doesn't have anywhere. What, like what happens if the teacher comes to that type of parent and is like, yeah, your child's gay, your child's trans, and they kick them out Cause that's a big issue.

Speaker 2:

In like, the queer youth community is being kicked out, which is a lot. This is oftentimes why people wait until they're older to to come out is because they're scared to be disowned without any background and have to having to drop out of high school. They don't want that. You know what I mean. Like they know that that puts them back a lot if you don't have a high school diploma, if you don't have a support system through college, you know. So it's. It's just, it's just setting the queer community up to fail and it's just it's totally ignoring the fact that queer people are queer. They think it's a decision and they just want to stomp out that decision, which is not the case. It's ridiculous. But so I tell you all of this to set the scene for the following incident obviously a hostile environment for next and other queer youth in this situation.

Speaker 2:

Next, benedict was a sophomore at Oswego high school in oklahoma this year in february 2024. Next was being bullied severely by other classmates for being transgender. That, and honestly I'm not surprised by, like what we just discussed. Like jesus like.

Speaker 1:

It's an environment. They created an environment where this is not only possible, but preferable.

Speaker 2:

Exactly, exactly. So you know these, these kids, they're also, you know, very susceptible to. So I don't want to feel too badly for the kids that are, like, bullying them, but also I will say that, like, if you grow up in this environment, you're just going with the like crowd think is a thing. You know what I mean For sure.

Speaker 2:

So that's why it's so important to be accepting and loving in that kind of high school environment, in that elementary middle school, like leading up, because that's what you teach people, these children, to become right next identified as um gender fluid, which, for those who may not know, which is totally fine, what that means is a person who doesn't identify with one gender over another, consistently so fluid. That's where the fluid comes in. So on February 7th 2024, nex walked into the bathroom that the state required them to use, even though they were uncomfortable using it.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

They went into the bathroom and soon were followed in by three teenage girls who had been bullying them in recent years. Followed in by three teenage girls who had been bullying them in recent years. The girls cornered next making fun of them for having to use the girls bathroom when they know. Next did not want to. Next poured water on one of the girls in retaliation, which is water again. Uh, the girls then grabbed next, threw them on the floor and beat, beat them. They were slamming Nex's head into the tile floor repetitively until a teacher heard the commotion and came to break up the fight. Remember that? So this ensued because they were verbally harassing Nex, and then Nex put water on one of them, right, and then they literally beat the shit out of them. Wow, like it's totally unacceptable. But just wait, remember that.

Speaker 2:

So Sue, benedict, nex's adoptive mother and their biological grandmother were called to the school after the incident. Sue had adopted Nex after their father relinquished parental rights and went to prison for physically and mentally abusing Nex relinquished parental rights and went to prison for physically and mentally abusing x. So this is just. It's. There's a lot of of trauma going on in this person's poor, trans child's life, right? Uh, the school not only had not called the police to report the assault, but had suspended next for two weeks for fighting, no, for fighting. They said that they were fighting, but that's not what the report's saying did they suspend the people that were smashing their heads?

Speaker 1:

no, oh, that's nice yeah very ironic.

Speaker 2:

I wonder why in that environment I couldn't understand why that happened. Uh, so sue took next to the hospital to get checked out because they were covered in bruises and scratches and had lost consciousness. The police were called there and while they were there said Interesting, interesting.

Speaker 1:

From water. Yes, Interesting.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so this is the system that's going on here, so it's very upsetting, and so Sue was obviously upset at the officer for their flippant attitude about the attack that had happened on their child, right? So the officer told Sue that if she decides to press charges, that Nex could face punishment too. So coercion, to not press charges insane it's. I mean, it's just, it's a.

Speaker 2:

It's the system working exactly how that governor wanted it to work, though right so this led to sue not pressing charges because she didn't want her child to get in trouble. You know, and that's what the police officer told her to do not to press charges. So next was discharged and sent home. So the Nex collapsed in their living room at home. Sue said that their eyes were rolling back and that they were struggling to breathe. And Nex had completely stopped breathing when EMS came and they were declared dead at the hospital, oh my God.

Speaker 2:

So February 9th, the day after Nex had died, the police were contacted. So February 9th, the day after Nex had died, the police were contacted. They collected photos from unnamed sources related to the bullying and the situation from two days earlier no-transcript. Nex's death was ruled a suicide. They said that they did find multiple injuries on Nex's head and neck, including two contusions, two lacerations, two abrasions and hemorrhaging on their right cheek. The Tulsa District Attorney's Office said that no charges would be brought related to the incident of bullying or assault. They claimed that it was an incident of mutual combat. Have you ever heard that used in legal terms? I'm like what the fuck is combat? Okay For high school teenagers, what?

Speaker 1:

Was there an unusual dose of the?

Speaker 2:

yeah, so they found that there was more um of the benadryl in their system. So it was it was. It was a suicide, because they were bullied, beat the shit out of and then no one took them seriously and then blame for the whole, and then blame for the entire incident awful, truly awful this situation is so heartbreaking to me.

Speaker 2:

At almost every angle, this child was failed the state with their discriminatory laws. The city with the victim blaming and lack of holding the law right. Their school for suspending them after they were they were assaulted on campus. The community of their peers at their school for not accepting them and bullying them to the point of suicide right their father for abusing them all growing up.

Speaker 2:

I mean the list goes on. I just my heart really goes out to to sue benedict and the queer community and and our allies there in oklahoma, because that's that's a really tough battle.

Speaker 1:

Obviously that's going on down there and just in shock after reading all of that, I mean yeah I mean it's tragic well, I mean, at least in the brianna jai case, right, there was some, you know, there was some legal process that took place that that actually held the people accountable. Yes, now it was different.

Speaker 2:

So, yes, I was say let's talk about the two cases. So just a refresher on the Brianna Jai case for um, you, me, everyone, uh, so basically what happened was Brianna Jai was a transgender girl who was living in the UK. Her classmates, two classmates of her of hers, um told her like, lured her to the park and then murdered her with a knife. They it was a physical murder. Sure, this is a suicide that is different.

Speaker 2:

Both were being bullied very badly, but brianna jai had a solid support system right and I think one that is a big difference of what happened and they were both the same age, both 16 brianna jai and next wow and it's just, it's so tragic it is. I mean, they are different. I will say these cases are very different, but I wanted to bring the two really big cases that have happened in the last year involving, you know, the trans youth.

Speaker 1:

We're talking about children, right, which is so crazy to me well, it's different, right by the time you're an adult, right, you sort of build a thicker skin in terms of whatever someone might say about you, right, yeah, you sort of you know, you sort of constitute your own personal being, right, you are who you are and you're comfortable with that, hopefully, and you get a thicker skin and you're not as and you find your chosen family right and you and you, you find like-minded people that the support system.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and that is so important doesn't sound like next had either one of those things going on, except for the grandmother. Yes, the grandmother seemed to be very much in their corner good and I know that that was very much appreciated by them right, absolutely and and obviously the the brianna jai case was a straight up.

Speaker 2:

It was a straight up murder, right yeah so and the other? One was a death by a thousand cuts.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you're not wrong. Do you know what I mean?

Speaker 2:

Did the coroner say that there's absolutely conclusively there's no connection to the hemorrhaging and the so they said that it was very clear that they were beat badly, but that it did not result in fatal, uh, a fatal outcome. So that was not their cause of death, right, and so that's one misconception that a lot of people have had, and you know, that's why I wanted to do this case partially as well, because I wanted to see where's the disconnect, because a lot of people in the queer community thought that that they were murdered. The same way.

Speaker 1:

Brianna shy was true, and so, after looking deeper into it, it was an assault followed by a suicide, and I think that's where people were confused, and so I wanted to put out the facts of this case so everyone is clear about them see, see, but that confuses me too, because, like, even if, even if you're walking down the street right and, um, something happens and you get into a scuffle right and someone is injured or whatever, no matter who started it, right, both people are possibly, you know, guilty of assault, right? So I don't see how they completely expunged the fact that these girls smashed Nex's head into the ground.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and it's still an assault.

Speaker 1:

I mean I don't care if Nex threw water on the girls, it doesn't matter.

Speaker 2:

Right, it's water. It's water, jesus.

Speaker 1:

And you want to. I mean, I can't understand why they wouldn't prosecute those girls. Not that they want to see them thrown in jail, but honestly you did something that triggered something in someone that harmed them number one and kind of pushed them over the edge to commit suicide exactly there has to be some accountability. Accountability, yes it's just.

Speaker 2:

It's interesting to see. Although these cases are are different, they ended kind of similarly in the fact that their lives were not being respected right and that respect looks different, the disrespect looks different in those two cases.

Speaker 2:

but this is these are are these are the plights of trans people in this day and age and it's disturbing when we have all of this information. We have all of this, you know, education about mental health, about accepting and loving one another, I mean, and how important support systems are. I just do not understand the people who want to bring others down for no reason. No reason.

Speaker 1:

Well, right, and maybe 25 years ago or more than that, there's probably something similar with the gay community, right? Because there were people that were committing suicide, because they were outed and then they were pursued or were they were beaten up or whatever, and and then slowly, things changed a little bit in the united states and now I, you tell me, um, I think things are better things are definitely better than you know.

Speaker 2:

I think they get a little bit better as time goes on right but I mean, just in the past year I've been called slurs out of car doors, kicked out of Ubers, like I mean it's insane. It's insane and we live in like a city that is accepting and overwhelmingly gay. It's confusing. But yes, I do agree with that parallel that you're making that like gay people really were struggling in the past. Now the struggle is it looks different. You know what I mean and it is, it's lessened. But trans people are going through it and we really need to throw our weight behind them and support people in our community, the trans people in our community. We need to make sure that they feel valued because their lives are super important, just as ours are.

Speaker 1:

And, honestly, you never know right where there could be someone in the trans community. That is absolutely brilliant, oh, absolutely and absolutely has some kind of a world changing, world bettering kind of an idea, kind of a world changing, world bettering kind of an idea. And if you snuff these people out or force them to commit suicide, you're taking, you're taking potential away from the world away from the country. Right.

Speaker 1:

Definitely At a time that we could ill use. We could use all the, all the creativity and all the potential and all the you know the the intelligence that we could possibly do. And honestly to all the you know the the intelligence that we could possibly do, and honestly to, to, what business is it if someone wants to consider themselves a different gender?

Speaker 2:

It's so unproblematic.

Speaker 1:

I might not agree with it, but how is that hurting me in any way, shape or form?

Speaker 2:

Exactly, but you do agree. I do agree, I know Because you're a good ally, but it's frustrating, I totally agree. And it Because you're a good ally, but it's frustrating, I totally agree. And it's just, it's super upsetting. It's yeah, and it goes back to why diversity is such an important part of society Because we are better together, for sure. We are better supporting each other, loving each other despite our differences, learning from each other. We all have something to give. Follow the show on whatever streaming site you're listening on.

Speaker 1:

And remember. All of the source material will be available in the show notes.

Speaker 2:

And follow us on Instagram at whatweloseintheshadows, and let us know if you want to hear a specific case.

Speaker 1:

Or if you just want to give us some feedback.

Speaker 2:

Okay, join us in the shadows next Tuesday. Bye.

Impact of Laws on Queer Youth
School Bullying and Ignoring LGBTQ+ Issues
Tragic Stories of Trans Youth