A statement from state Senator Karen Berg
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.
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. 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. He long struggled with mental illness, not because he was trans but born from his difficulty finding acceptance.
Colleagues described Henry as “an absolute light.” He had recently received a big promotion in his job at the Human Rights Campaign. He was doing work that was important to him – to make the world a more accepting place. At 24 years old he had finally found a community, but that could not undo the brokenness that he already felt.
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. This hate building across the country weighed on him. In one of our last conversations he wondered if he was safe walking down the street.
The vitriol against trans people is not happening in a vacuum. 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.
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.
A statement by the Human Rights Campaign
Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) honors the life of Henry Berg-Brousseau, HRC’s Deputy Press Secretary, Politics. Henry was the son of Kentucky State Senator Karen Berg and Bob Brousseau, a brother to Rachael Pass, and an important and loved part of the HRC family. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues, his family, and his friends. His full obituary can be found here and a statement from his mother here.
Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson issued the following statement, remembering Henry:
“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. 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.
“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.
“In honor of Henry’s life, we must come together and speak out against injustice. We must fight for our transgender family. We must celebrate his light, and honor him by continuing to fight for full equality for all. Our thoughts are with his parents, his sister, his entire family, and our whole community.”
Memorial contributions in honor of Henry Berg-Brousseau may go to The Fairness Campaign, 2263 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206, or The Trevor Project-Development, PO Box 69232, West Hollywood, CA 90069.