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‘Practice tolerance and grace’: Kentucky senator says her transgender son has died


‘Practice tolerance and grace’: Kentucky senator says her transgender son has died

Dec 20, 2022 | 5:53 pm ET
By Liam Niemeyer


This article mentions suicide. The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 988.

A Kentucky state senator announced Tuesday her transgender son, who fought for LGBTQ rights, has died by suicide. 

‘Practice tolerance and grace’: Kentucky senator says her transgender son has died
Henry Berg-Bousseau (Photo from obituary)

Sen. Karen Berg, D-Louisville, in a statement shared on social media by Kentucky Senate Democrats, said 24-year-old Henry Berg-Bousseau was “a beloved son, brother, nephew, dog parent and friend.” 

“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,” Berg said in the statement. “As a 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.” 

Berg-Brousseau died Dec. 16 at his home in Arlington, Va.

Berg said he had recently received a significant promotion at the Human Rights Campaign — a nationwide LGBTQ advocacy and lobbying organization — and that he was doing work that was important to him.

According to an online obituary, he served as the deputy press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign after graduating from George Washington University in 2021. He was born in Louisville, where in high school he worked with the Fairness Campaign, an statewide LGBTQ rights advocacy group, to advocate for the transgender community.  

Berg said his job had made him aware on a daily basis “of the hateful and vile anti-trans message being circulated” in the country and 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,” Berg said. “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.”

Berg asked in her statement for people to practice “tolerance and grace” and work on “loving your neighbor.” 

This story was updated to correct an earlier misspelling in Henry Berg-Bousseau’s name.