Retaining Individuality and Refusing to be Silenced

X and Y, left and right, male and female – life is littered with binaries. Some are inherent to the human experience, but what happens when a third variable is introduced? What happens when your options are X and Y, but you know you’re a Z?

As was my experience going to a Catholic high school. Being a non-binary individual, I personally experienced an unnecessary amount of hardship by the hands of an administration that didn’t know how to manage me. I could’ve made things easier by being somebody I’m not, but retaining individuality was the only way I could maintain my identity. Had I posed as a typical man, I wouldn’t have been silenced at my graduation ceremony. However, I would have been living a lie. It’s important to live one’s truth and speak out against inequalities in the world – otherwise we will be forever bound to X and Y.

-Christian Bales, student at the University of Louisville

Christian Bales is being honored by the Hugh Hefner Foundation in the education category. Christian, a student activist, is an openly gay and gender non-conforming student who was not allowed to deliver his Valedictorian commencement speech at his Catholic high school’s graduation ceremony. Christian decided to deliver his speech with a bullhorn following the graduation ceremony surrounded by students and faculty.