“Nex Benedict. Know their name.”

Voices could be heard shouting this, and other chants, during the memorial march on Monday. The march was organized by a student and many people from Hutchinson and the surrounding area showed up in support.

It was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve been a part of. I showed up a little early and watched people arrive. I watched as friends met again and new people were introduced. I watched people come together to honor Nex’s life and stand up for others like them.

During the march, I listened as people shouted to remember Nex, to stand up and fight for equal rights. I can’t describe how it felt to stand in that group of people, knowing that we were there to honor the life of a 16 year old and everyone like them. Like me.

Far too many people have been harmed by hate. Nex is the latest victim of the hate directed at transgender people.

This year alone, 11 anti-trans bills have passed, according to the Trans Legislation Tracker. It’s March. We are three months into the year and 11 anti-trans bills have been passed in the United States. Over 500 have been proposed. How is this “freedom and justice for all”?

When will the death be too much? When will enough be enough?

Is this the world we want to leave the next generation? School is hard enough without worrying about being attacked because of who you are. Being young is hard enough without hearing that there are adults that want people like you gone. Mental health is already such a big problem, and all this hate does is exacerbate the issue.

Kids can hear the hate you spew, especially with social media.

We owe our children, and ourselves, better than this. We all deserve a world where people don’t have to be afraid to live. It’s a long, hard road to get there, but we never will if we never try.

I recognize that I’m not impartial to this, but then again, none of us can afford to be. Not when people’s lives hang in the balance. We are the only ones who can stop this. So let’s stop this.

Brandon Teena, Matthew Shepard, Nex Benedict, and countless others.

Remember their names.

Lynn Spahr is a Hutchinson sophomore studying journalism and the Opinion Page Editor.

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