Photo: Human Rights Campaign

Henry Berg-Brousseau, a transgender rights activist, has died.

The 24-year-old was the Deputy Press Secretary for Politics at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest LGBTQ+ political lobbying organisation in the United States.

His mother, Kentucky state senator Karen Berg, confirmed that he died on Friday (16 December) by suicide.

In a statement, Berg called him a “beloved son, brother, nephew, dog parent and friend” and said “the depth of his loss is yet to be absorbed”.

“Henry spent his life working to extend grace, compassion and understanding to everyone, but especially to the vulnerable and marginalized. This grace, compassion and understanding was not always returned to him,” she wrote.

“As the mother of a transgender son, I gave my whole heart trying to protect my child from a world were some people and especially some politicians intentionally continued to believe that marginalizing my child was OK simply because of who he was.”

“This lack of acceptance took a toll on Henry,” she further explained. “He long struggled with mental illness, not because he was trans but born from his difficulty finding acceptance.”

Berg continued to condemn how anti-trans vitriol is used to ‘score political points’, saying 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.”

Kelley Robinson, HRC President, described Henry as 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. He could always be counted on to volunteer for a project, hit send on a press release from wherever in the world he was, or share a kind word in the elevator up to his office,” she shared.

Robinson reflected on his “fighter” spirit, saying he battled for transgender rights in Kentucky “far earlier than he should have had to” and faced anti-trans hate “every single day” as part of his work with the organisation.

“No one was more aware of the harm that anti-transgender rhetoric, messaging, and legislation could have on his community. He was brave,” she said. “It sadly impacted how Henry saw his own place in the world.”

Our thoughts are with Henry’s family and his colleagues at the Human Rights Campaign.

Further advice and resources on suicide from the International Association for Suicide Prevention are available here.