Kentucky State Senator Karen Berg (D-Louisville) issued a statement yesterday confirming the death of her 24-year-old trans son.
Henry Berg-Brosseau died by suicide on Friday morning. He was a campaigner for LGBTQ rights and worked for the Human Rights Campaign.
Karen Berg took office in 2020, after previously working as a physician for 30 years.
“Last Friday morning my son Henry died by suicide. He was a beloved son, brother, nephew, dog parent and friend. The depth of his loss is yet to be absorbed,” she said in her statement.
“Henry spent his life working to extend grace, compassion and understanding to everyone, but especially to the vulnerable and marginalized. The grace, compassion and understanding was not always returned to him. As the mother of a transgender son, I gave my whole heart trying to protect my child from a world where some people and especially some politicians intentionally continued to believe that marginalizing my child was OK simply because of who he was.”
She continued, “The lack of acceptance took a toll on Henry. He long struggled with mental illness, not because he was trans but born from this difficulty finding acceptance.”
“The vitriol against trans people is not happening in a vacuum”
HRC recently promoted Henry. Colleagues described him as “an absolute light”.
“At 24 years old he had finally found a community, but that could not undo the brokenness that he already felt,” said Berg.
“’On a daily basis at his job Henry would be aware of the hateful and vile anti-trans messaging being circulated around this country and focused at his workplace. The hate building across the country weighed on him.”
“The vitriol against trans people is not happening in a vacuum,” she said. “’It is not just a way of scoring political points by exacerbating the culture wars. It has real world-implications on how transgender people view their place in the world and how they are treated as they just try to live their lives.
“If I have one ask, it would be this: practice tolerance and grace. Work on loving your neighbor.
“The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 988.”
Earlier this year, the Kentucky legislature passed a ban on trans girls and women participating in women’s sports at school. In an emotional speech about supporting her trans child, Berg had spoken out against the ban.
“I cannot tell you how hurtful it is for a parent to see your child suffering from ignorance, from people who don’t know and from people who honestly don’t care.”
A Kentucky legislator and parent of a trans son spoke out against a bill that would exclude trans kids from sports. pic.twitter.com/7NSn79bOP3
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) February 22, 2022
Human Rights Campaign remembers Henry Berg-Brosseau
HRC also posted a statement. It confirmed that Henry was the organization’s Deputy Press Secretary for Politics.
Henry was our beloved colleague and friend and brought light to everyone around him. In his honor, we must come together and speak out against injustice. We must fight for our transgender family. There are no words to describe how much we miss him. https://t.co/oGjbckTmrP
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) December 21, 2022
“Losing Henry is an unfathomable loss to the Human Rights Campaign family. Henry was a light – deeply passionate, deeply engaged, and deeply caring,” it began.
““Henry was first and foremost a fighter and an advocate. He was fighting for transgender rights as a teenager in Kentucky, far earlier than he should have had to. As part of his job at HRC, he faced down anti-transgender vitriol every single day, and no one was more aware of the harm that anti-transgender rhetoric, messaging, and legislation could have on his community.
“He was brave. But, as Henry’s mother stated, ‘[t]he vitriol against trans people is not happening in a vacuum …It has real-world implications for how transgender people view their place in the world and how they are treated as they just try to live their lives.’ It sadly impacted how Henry saw his own place in the world.”
An “eagerness to make everyone around him feel loved”
An obituary for Henry says that away from his campaigning work, “He was an active member of the Stonewall Kickball League of DC, an avid knitter, and a lover of The West Wing.
“He will be remembered for his drive to make this world a more accepting place, his ambition to use communications and politics as a force for positive change, and his eagerness to make everyone around him feel loved.”