LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky state senator said Tuesday that her transgender son, a trans rights advocate on whom “a lack of acceptance took a toll,” has died by suicide. He was 24.
Democratic Sen. Karen Berg said her son Henry Berg-Brousseau “long struggled with mental illness, not because he was trans but born from his difficulty finding acceptance.” She said he died on Friday.
According to the Louisville lawmaker, her son just got a promotion at the Human Rights Campaign, which promotes LGBTQ rights. He had finally found a community, she said, “but that could not undo the brokenness that he already felt.”
Berg talked about her son During legislative proceedings she opposed Kentucky bills that target transgender people. These bills are increasingly passing in Republican statehouses across America. It includes a 2022 law Transgender girls, and women, are not allowed to participate in school sports that correspond with their gender identity starting in sixth grade through college.
“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,” Berg said in a news release. “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.”
Berg said her son spent his life “working to extend grace, compassion and understanding to everyone.” She said the “vitriol against trans people” 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,” Berg said. “Work on loving your neighbor.”
Berg, a Louisville physician and professor, was elected as the first state senator in 2020.