Video Shows Nonbinary Teen Nex Benedict Reflecting on Fight Before Their Death

A screenshot from newly released body camera footage of a police officer’s interview with Nex Benedict in the hospital.Owasso Police Department/YouTube

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.The death of Nex Benedict, a nonbinary teenager in Oklahoma, after a fight in school bathroom earlier this month has led to an outpouring of grief and anger among the LGBTQ community—and fresh attention to the climate of hostility faced by trans students in the state and beyond.
Much remains unclear about the specifics of what happened to Nex, who was reported dead on February 8. On Friday, the Owasso Police Department posted body cam footage of Nex speaking to an officer in a hospital after the fight.

In the video, Nex—dressed in a black t-shirt and cargo pants, their dark hair cut short—tells the officer “I got jumped” and that they didn’t know the three freshman girls who hurt them until that week. “They just decided to up and start messing with you?” the officer asks.
“Yeah, because of the way that we dress,” Nex replied. 
According to Nex, the girls had made fun of the way Nex and their friends were laughing. In response, Nex threw water on the girls from a plastic water bottle, Nex told the officer. Then, they say, the girls “came at me.” Nex continues: “They grabbed onto my hair, I grabbed onto them. I threw one them into a paper towel dispenser. Then they got my legs out from under me, got me on the ground, and started beating the shit out of me. And then my friends tried to jump in and help, and I’m not sure, I blacked out.”
Surveillance camera footage released by the police shows Nex walking through the school hallways sometime after the fight, escorted by an adult. Sue Benedict, Nex’ guardian and grandmother, was soon summoned to the school and advised to take Nex to the hospital, where she called the police.
During the ensuing hospital interview, the police officer tells Nex and Benedict that the school was supposed to have contacted the police immediately after the fight. But he also advised that it might not be in their their best interests to pursue criminal charges, since Nex could be seen as having started the physical fight. Benedict agrees to talk it over with Nex. The officer leaves after about 20 minutes; Nex went home that night. 
The next day, at 1 p.m., Benedict called 911 for an ambulance, reporting that Nex’s breathing was shallow and that their “eyes are kind of rolling back,” according to a call recording released by the police department, which has been posting updates on social media. Nex died at the hospital shortly afterward.

Benedict told the Independent earlier this week that Nex had been bullied for being transgender since the start of the 2023 school year. She remembered telling Nex to “‘be strong and look the other way, because these people don’t know who you are.’”
The tragedy is drawing attention to anti-trans politics of Oklahoma officials, including Oklahoma state superintendent for education Ryan Walters, who told the New York Times that he did not believe that nonbinary or transgender people exist. “There’s not multiple genders. There’s two. That’s how God created us,” he said. Walters has pushed these beliefs onto Oklahoma schools; the state would not allow students to use preferred names or pronouns different from their birth sex, he told the Times.
Last month, Walters appointed Chaya Raichik, the internet personality behind the virulently anti-trans Libs of TikTok account, to a library media advisory committee. Raichik, who often uses her account to target teachers who support LGBTQ students, had previously targeted an Owasso teacher, who ultimately resigned—a development that upset Nex, Benedict told the Independent.
National LGBTQ civil rights leaders have called for federal investigations into Nex’s death and the Owesso school district by the Departments of Justice and Education. “We believe that Nex’s death is the natural consequence of a growing wave of hatred against LGBTQ+ people,” Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights campaign, wrote in letters to the federal department leaders. “This hatred is being fueled by an unprecedented, coordinated attempt to eliminate the rights and visibility of our communities across the country.”
The setting of the fight—in a girl’s bathroom—has deep resonance for trans students, who have been banned from using school facilities that correspond with their gender identity in 10 states over the last three years. (In two states, Utah and Florida, these laws come with criminal penalties and extend to all trans people and government-owned buildings, according to the Movement Advancement Project.) Oklahoma’s Republican governor, Kevin Stitt, signed his state’s bathroom bill in 2022—not long after he banned transgender girls from playing on female sports teams and prohibited transgender people from changing their birth certificates. The House author of the Oklahoma bathroom bill, Republican state Rep. Danny Williams, claimed at the time of its passage, in May 2022, that the bill’s goal was to protect children. “It’s about safety,” he said. 
As word of Nex’s death continued to spread last week, calls to the Rainbow Youth Project, an Indiana-based group that runs a crisis hotline for LGBTQ youth, had increased by 500 percent over its weekly average as of Friday, Time reported. In response to Nex’s death, a gender nonconforming recent high school graduate told a Rolling Stone reporter: “That could have been me.”