Nex, the Nex in my home, the Nex in Every Classroom, Deserves Life.

Thomas Rademacher
3 min readFeb 20, 2024

There’s a lot we don’t know about Nex, the non-binary child who was killed in an Oklahoma school on February 8th. We know Nex was beaten in a bathroom by three other students, that the school didn’t get medical care, even after Nex was unable to walk under their own power, that Nex died the next day.

One early news story linked the funeral page for Nex, who is a teenager with floppy hair and a doofy smile. Who was. Who is a teenager who liked art and minecraft, who looks like my kid, or the crew of floppy-haired-doofy-smiled-gender diverse kids he surrounds himself with at school, on group calls, at conventions. Nex was their own person, of course, and also Nex lives in my house and invites my kid to cat cafes and Sims weddings.

I clicked on that page, and there was this one comment from a classmate. She told a story, and I don’t want to tell the whole thing because it’s hers, about how there was a word in class they thought was funny and made a whole inside joke about, writing it on the board, papers, and sometimes oranges. They wanted to make a stuffed animal for the room with that name, but the teacher said no.

There’s nothing so special about the story, which is why it kills me. It’s the same kinds of jokes happening in every middle school classroom in the country. It is kids making the best of things, making joy where they can piece it together from the pointy parts of a school day, making jokes that only make sense with the other kid in class, that barely make sense even then. Nex was their own person. Was. And also, I’ve had hundreds of Nex in classrooms, in after-school clubs, in the stories of teacher friends all over the country.

When we know more, this story may grow be more complicated, but won’t change that Nex should be alive, that attacking trans kids is wrong, that this story is thundering back and forth across the minds of so many young people and their families right now. It can happen. It is real. We are horrified, we are terrified, but we are not surprised.

I, like many, want answers, want information, want accountability for a school and a state and a country that has not made a priority out of protecting trans kids. We don’t know a lot, and in that space it’s easy to fit the puzzle pieces of Ryan Walters’ obscene work as Okhlahoma’s State Secretary of Public Instruction, of the stochastic terrorism encouraged by radicalizing groups like Libs for TikTok, like MAGA Republicans, like Moms for Liberty. Groups that have gained money and power and platform by targeting, by placing the bullseye directly over vulnerable kids, then pretending they have no connection to the actual violence.

More than that, I want Nex to be alive. I want every Nex in our world to stay alive, to stay safe, to stay loved and affirmed and appreciated.



Thomas Rademacher

Author of ‘It Won’t Be Easy.’ and ‘Raising Ollie’ 2014 Minnesota Teacher of the Year. @mrtomrad on everything.