Who They Are


Senior Morning Bolger has spent the last several years as a member of the Center Grove community, and in that time has begun to realize the traditional, binary genders may not work for them.

“I started my schooling in the Center Grove School Corporation on the first day of the second semester of seventh grade. Hindsight is 20/20, so looking back, I suppose I have always known I have not felt like a girl,” Bolger said. “I started experimenting with gender later in my sophomore year. I officially came out mid-September of my senior year.”

When it comes to day-to-day life, Bolger has noticed a few differences since coming out. More specifically, how they are treated by their peers.

“The biggest difference I have noticed since coming out is how often I have to deal with being misgendered all day long. Sometimes it is an accident and that person just needs correcting, but sometimes it is purposeful with the intention of hurting me,” Bolger said. “Another thing I have noticed is how often I am excluded from common place language, such as when people use phrases like ‘boys and girls’ or ‘he or she.’”

Family life for Bolger has, for the most part, gone smoothly, but occasionally they still face challenges.

“My family life is mostly accepting; some people in my family do not prioritize learning my pronouns or maybe they still hold transphobic bias, but they have made it clear that I am still loved and cared for,” Bolger said.

Some people struggle with understanding what it means to be non-binary, but Bolger has an explanation of this term.

“The way I’d explain being non-binary to a cisgendered person is imagine someone asks ‘what is your favorite color, yellow or red?’ but in reality your favorite color is green or blue. There are more than just two colors, but they will not accept the answer of blue because they do not think it is a real color; now apply that to who you are as a person, and apply their close mindedness as their value for you as a human, and you might start to get the idea,” Bolger said.

Issues involving non-binary youth have popped up on the national stage in recent years, but Bolger believes it is also an issue at Center Grove.

“Center Grove does not do nearly enough to be inclusive to transgender and non-binary individuals; they do not seem to encourage or enforce inclusionary language in the classroom, and there is not nearly enough discipline for hate speech,” Bolger said. “We need an absolute zero tolerance on hate speech, the punishment for which needs to be severe, not just a simple warning, detention or something similar.”

To make the school a more welcoming environment for all, Bolger would just like staff members to listen.

“If someone makes a complaint, believe them, don’t just brush it off or ‘make a note of it,’ which many teachers have done to me,” Bolger said. “I’ve made complaints where they ‘make a note of it’ to have it on file,” Bolger said. “I’ve also been told, ‘there’s not really anything I can do about it, just don’t let it get to you.’”

Bolger has made progress in understanding their own gender identity, but they have a message to those who may be struggling with theirs.

“I have learned to overcome some internalized transphobia taught to me not just from the Center Grove area, but from the world. I used to be afraid I was ‘faking it’ or ‘just doing it for attention’, but I realized I don’t have to justify my identity to others,” Bolger said. “My advice to others is that you need to be true to yourself, but also make sure you put your safety first.”