Transgender Day of Visibility: How to be (and raise) Advocates on and Offline

March 27, 2024

As the parent of a transgender teenager, each of my days comes with a mix of hope, fear, and determination to create a world in which my child can thrive. On Transgender Day of Visibility, I believe it is critical not only to reflect on the progress the transgender community has made but also on the challenges that persist — often with tragic consequences. One recent event, the brutal attack and death of Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old transgender high school student in Owasso, Oklahoma, should be a wake-up call to everyone. Nex’s death serves as a stark reminder of the dangers faced by transgender and non-binary youth, both in physical spaces like schools and in the online world.

Nex’s story has shaken our community to its core. As a vibrant, young trans individual, Nex should have had their* whole life ahead of them. Instead, they became another statistic in a world that too often fails to protect transgender individuals. Stories like Nex’s terrify me and other parents loving and supporting our trans kids. We worry about our children’s safety every time they step out the door into a public space, but we also worry about what they encounter when they look at a computer or phone screen.

Schools should be safe havens for all children, regardless of their gender identity. Yet transgender and non-binary youth like Nex often face bullying, discrimination, and violence in these supposedly secure environments. As a parent, I find it difficult to reconcile that a place meant for learning and growth can in reality be one of ignorance and danger.

The online world is often an escape for trans and non-binary youth, offering the chance to create avatars that express who they are and the promise of connection and support, but it harbors dangers of its own. Online communities can provide invaluable support and affirmation for young people exploring their gender identity. Unfortunately, these spaces can quickly turn hostile and dangerous, with cyberbullying, harassment, and hate-speech targeting vulnerable individuals.

Parents, we have a responsibility to educate our children about the realities faced by trans and non-binary youth today. We must teach empathy, understanding, and the importance of fighting against injustice and bigotry whenever and wherever it may occur. We must teach our children not only to be allies but to actively stand up for their transgender and non-binary peers. It isn’t enough to simply passively accept diversity. We must all actively work to protect and celebrate those whom others might wish to harm. Nex’s death is a reminder that it’s crucial for us to have conversations with our kids about the importance of creating and maintaining safe spaces both online and offline. Encourage your children to report any dangerous conversations or behaviors they witness online or in person. By taking action, we can help prevent tragedies like Nex’s death from happening again.

Creating safer spaces for LGBTQ+ youth requires all of us to work together. Here are some suggestions for parents and communities to consider:

Lead by Example: As parents, demonstrate inclusive language and behavior in your daily life. This includes how you act in your own online spaces. Be a good digital role model and make sure you are respectful and inclusive in your interactions even when behind the screen. Show your kids that embracing diversity and standing up for others is not only the right thing to do, but it is a fundamental aspect of being a compassionate human.

Education and Awareness: Education is key to fostering understanding and acceptance. Work with your schools to ensure access to LGBTQ+ books and curriculum and training for both educators and students. If this is banned where you live, provide this education at home. Consider supplementing this education with resources available online, such as the Movement Advancement Project’s Resources for Families of Transgender & Gender Diverse Children or HRC’s Resources on Gender-Expansive Children and Youth.  

Supportive Resources: Advocate for the availability of LGBTQ+-affirming resources and support services in your schools and communities. This includes access to counselors, support groups, and LGBTQ+ youth organizations. Get involved with your local LGBTQ+ advocacy groups to support their mission and their community initiatives.

Online Safety Measures: While some social media platforms have policies in place to protect LGBTQ+ users from hate and harassment, there is still room for improvement across all platforms. Monitor your child’s online activity, ensure that their social media accounts have strict privacy settings, and periodically check their interactions for signs of cyberbullying or anti-LGBTQ+ hate. Discuss safe internet practices with them.: encourage them to look for and engage with positive, supportive online communities while avoiding spaces that promote hate and discrimination. Ensure that they know how to block and report users who engage in bullying, and encourage them to let you know when they encounter hate online 

Each Fall, we honor the memory of transgender and non-binary individuals like Nex who have lost their lives to hate and violence on Transgender Day of Remembrance. But each Spring, we have a chance to celebrate rebirth and new opportunities with the Transgender Day of Visibility. Join me in making a commitment to create a world where every young person, regardless of their gender identity, can live safely, authentically, and with pride. Together, we can make a difference.


* Initial reports and family statements stated that Nex identified as non-binary and used them/them pronouns. Some friends later said that Nex used he/him pronouns. It is possible that Nex used they/he, but I have used singular-they as I do with anyone whose gender I do not know.

Written by

Debi Jackson

Debi Jackson (she/her) is a passionate advocate for transgender youth. Driven by her personal experiences as the parent of a transgender child, Debi has spent the last decade committed to raising awareness about the challenges faced by trans youth and their families. Debi actively engages with policymakers, educators, and community leaders around the world to advocate for transgender rights and is a founding member of the Human Rights Campaign's Parents for Transgender Equality Council.