But the weight of his work became increasingly difficult for him to bear, Ms. Berg said. She had recently asked Mr. Berg-Brousseau if he wanted to step away from his job, but he said no. “Henry’s not a quitter,” his mother said.
Intimidation and violence against gay and transgender Americans has exploded in recent years, driven by an increasingly vitriolic political conversation. Just this year, members of the Proud Boys and other extremist groups have converged on drag events and participated in anti-L.G.B.T.Q. rallies. Last month, five people were killed — two were transgender, a third was gay — in a shooting at an L.G.B.T.Q. club in Colorado Springs.
Across the country, Republican state lawmakers have focused attention on transgender people and other L.G.B.T.Q. issues by introducing bills that aim to limit what doctors call gender-affirming care, restrict what students are taught in the classroom about gender and sexuality, bar some transgender students from participating in school sports and require students to use restrooms for the gender listed on their original birth certificates.
The Human Rights Campaign said that 344 such bills were introduced across 23 states in 2022. More than 25 of those bills, a majority of which targeted transgender people, became law in 13 states. According to a national survey of nearly 34,000 L.G.B.T.Q. youth conducted by the Trevor Project, a crisis intervention organization, in late 2021, nearly 1 in 5 transgender and nonbinary people between the ages of 13 and 24 had attempted suicide in the previous year.
Mr. Berg-Brousseau followed many of these data points and news headlines for his job.
“Not long ago he said to me, ‘Mom, they say it gets better, but it is not getting better, it is getting worse and I’m scared,’” Ms. Berg said.
Even as Mr. Berg-Brousseau was finding a community for himself in and around Washington, — at college through his fraternity and the Jewish group Hillel, an L.G.B.T.Q. kickball league, and the Human Rights Campaign — it didn’t make that inside feeling of rejection go away, Ms. Berg said.
“He did find a place he belonged, I’m sure of it,” Ms. Berg said. “Even though it was there and he found it, at that point he was still a little broken inside from having to struggle and look for it so hard for so long.”