This was going to be a status update on Facebook but then it got too long so it became a blog.
If I were to tell you that my parents are my heroes you would accept that. You would nod and maybe ask why. But you would accept it. You wouldn't feel the need to point out the mistakes that they made. The issues that they didn't quite measure up on. The fact that the areas I admire most in them a lot of other people have as well and have possibly even been through more. You would just say okay and move on.
But for some reason this isn't applicable across the board. On Monday the cover for Vanity Fair came out with Caitlyn Jenner. And people are using heroic to describe the story. ESPN is going to give Caitlyn the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Marking the accomplishment she made not as Bruce Jenner at the Olympics but as coming out publicly with her struggle in being true to herself and becoming Caitlyn. And people have started to freak out. They don't agree that she deserves it, there is a war veteran who lost and arm and a leg who still competes who was up for the award, surely he deserves it more. There was a young woman who lost her life to brain cancer but still played basketball in college and raised money for her cause, surely she deserves it more. Why in the world would they give the award to Caitlyn Jenner? What has she done?
And then there are the statuses and the memes. Firefighters. Policemen. Armed Forces. These are heroes. Caitlyn Jenner got plastic surgery. That doesn't make her a hero. Or worse, they refuse to use her chosen name and pronouns and stick with Bruce and he. Just to make their point. Which, as far as I can gather, is that they are assholes.
So why is Caitlyn Jenner a hero? What has she done that is heroic? Why does she deserve an award for courage?
Did you know that people who identify as transgender are 28% more likely to be victims of violent crime than gender normative people?
Did you know that 4.6% percent of the total population have attempted suicide but that 41% of transgender teens have?
By opening up about her journey. By telling people this is who I am. This is who I have always been. This is how I feel best. By doing all of those things Caitlyn Jenner has opened herself up to a level of scrutiny that no one really should have to face. People are speculating about her genitalia, her sexual preferences, who knew what and when. Every detail of her life is now open for discussion. That's pretty fucking courageous if you ask me.
But more importantly, MOST importantly. If her cover, and Laverne Cox on the cover of Time magazine, if those images help one person to see that they are not alone? That there is a path for them in the world? That their life is precious and they shouldn't snuff it out too soon? If her story saves lives?
That's pretty fucking heroic to me.