Trans rights activist Henry Berg-Brousseau, who worked to oppose anti-transgender legislation in his home state of Kentucky before going on to work with the Human Rights Campaign, died Friday at the age of 24.
His mother, Kentucky Democratic state Sen. Karen Berg, said Berg-Brousseau died by suicide.
In a statement posted on Twitter via Bluegrass Politics, Berg said that her son had spent his life "working to extend grace, compassion, and understanding to everyone, but especially to the vulnerable and marginalized."
She added that "this grace, compassion, and understanding was not always returned to him" as a transgender man. The state senator called out the politicians who actively sought to marginalize her son because of who Berg-Brousseau was.
Berg said Berg-Brousseau had dealt with mental illness, "not because he was trans but born from his difficulty finding acceptance."
He was born in Louisville, Ky., according to an obituary.
"While a student at Louisville Collegiate School, he advocated for the rights of transgender people by organizing a protest against gay conversion therapy, speaking to the Kentucky Senate Education Committee, and participating in other local and national causes. His speech to the committee was shared on John Oliver Tonight," it said.
Berg-Brousseau went on to double major at George Washington University in political science and history and minored in Jewish studies.
In his work with the Human Rights Campaign, Berg said her son was acutely aware of the hateful rhetoric rising against transgender people in the country, adding that he saw that hate firsthand directed at his job. She said that in one of the final conversations she would have with her son he told her that he was concerned if he would be safe going out.
"The vitriol against trans people is not happening in a vacuum," Berg wrote. "It is not just a way of scoring political points by exacerbating the culture wars. 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."
Berg-Brousseau is survived by his mother, his father, and his sister, along with other family members.
"Losing Henry is an unfathomable loss to the Human Rights Campaign family. Henry was a light -- deeply passionate, deeply engaged, and deeply caring. His colleagues will always remember his hunger for justice, his eagerness to pitch in, his bright presence, and his indelible sense of humor," Kelley Robinson, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement.
Robinson noted his activist work as a teenager, having to fight for his own rights "far earlier than he should have had to."
"He was brave," she said.
She ended her statement by calling for justice for the transgender community.
"We must fight for our transgender family. We must celebrate his light, and honor him by continuing to fight for full equality for all," Robinson said. "Our thoughts are with his parents, his sister, his entire family, and our whole community."
If you are having thoughts of suicide or are concerned that someone you know may be, resources are available to help. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 is for people of all ages and identities.
Trans Lifeline, designed for transgender or gender-nonconforming people, can be reached at (877) 565-8860. The lifeline also provides resources to help with other crises, such as domestic violence situations.
The Trevor Project Lifeline, for LGBTQ+ youth (ages 24 and younger), can be reached at (866) 488-7386. Users can also access chat services at TheTrevorProject.org/Help or text START to 678678.