It’s been close to a year since my last blog, but with recent events, it’s inspired me to talk about a topic that I feel never gets discussed the way it needs to be. Recently, Vanity Fair released photos of Bruce Jenner’s new identity, Caitlyn Jenner. Given that Bruce was already a high-profile public figure because of his Olympic career and his marriage to the Kardashian family, this news went viral instantly. But then the “righteous” side of the internet suddenly chimed in (as it always does) and almost immediately, photo memes of wounded warriors with text stating somewhere along the lines of “this is what a true ‘hero’ looks like” started surfacing.
Another detail that is trending currently is showing that Caitlyn has undeservingly been awarded for the Arthur Ashe Courage Award ahead of a man, Noah Galloway who lost two of his limbs bravely fighting for our country in the war in Iraq. Of course, as always, the credibility of any information circulated on the internet is uncertain (whether Galloway was actually “runner-up” for the award or if he was selected by the internet as a more deserving candidate), but regardless it’s brought everyone’s attention to ask this question:
What’s so courageous about the Bruce/Caitlyn transition when we’ve got REAL heroes risking their lives every day?
First of all, of course our soldiers are true heroes. Fighting for freedom is no easy task. I don’t think anyone would ever argue against that point. However, this shouldn’t discount the fact that anyone that fights for what they believe in, no matter what scale, is also a hero. Some of the public has gotten upset and feel that this is an elaborate marketing ploy to boost Jenner’s reality fame as she signs on to another reality series following her new transition. Well, let me pose this question to you. Who’s responsible for making these reality shows successful? The producers? The cast? No. It’s YOU.
You, my dear public, make news like this viral. Your reaction to the daily lives of the rich and famous is what causes such impact. So yes, should somebody like Noah Galloway be rewarded for his service to our country? Absolutely! But he’s not the only one. There are many unsung heroes that go every day without proper gratitude. So is it only when these types of heroes are being compared to a reality star/70’s Olympic athlete-turned-lady that all of our praise is being misdirected? Or does this just bring to light that the general public will only care about the things that truly matter when they feel they’re being grossly misrepresented?
If you’re upset that Caitlyn Jenner is winning the Arthur Ashe Courage Award (which you no doubt didn’t know was a thing until it was announced that she’ll receive it), then good! Be upset! Start a campaign of all the heroes YOU think deserve the spotlight—that is if you have the energy to do anything more than just put together a facetious photo meme to spread your lazy web-hate. But don’t take away the fact that a HUMAN BEING (yes, Jenner is STILL a human being) made a difficult decision towards what she believed was best for her. If you don’t know the person, it’s a little silly for you to determine if that decision was right or not.
You, the league of angry tweeters and precipitously moral bloggers, have inadvertently given the platform for Caitlyn to stand on and highlight her journey and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Courage comes in many forms and to be so linear to say that the ONLY way courage should be remunerated is by fighting a war, then there are MANY heroes who by that definition don’t deserve that hero status. So get to work haters, and start making a list of everyone that isn’t good enough to be on your newsfeed.
While you do that, here is a list of reasons I believe Caitlyn Jenner is necessary in 2015:
1. She brings more awareness to the transgender community.
It’s clear that a good amount of people are still uncomfortable with the idea of someone changing their sexual identity. The question is: Why? Beyond the religious zealots who are freaking out about the end times, for those who don’t follow the “holy” route, what is it that you don’t accept? That someone else has made a personal decision about their physical make up? Does it affect you personally? Do you have an attachment to their intimate parts? For those that chose religion, is the person who’s changing their sex a part of your religious views? Are they trying to convince you to change too? Transgender people are well aware of the implications of their decisions and don’t need you to chime in with your opinion about their lifestyle. Perhaps Caitlyn’s debut can show the world that this decision is not yours to make or approve. It’s a decision that is within the individual’s right to make. Can we just celebrate the fact that free will is still being exercised?
2. She encourages those who are afraid of public perception to be their true selves.
And I don’t mean just those who feel like they’re in the wrong body. This is so much more than just gender classification. This should be encouraging to anyone that’s ever been afraid to just be who they are. Whether it’s a young man accepting his homosexuality, or a college graduate wanting to pursue an artsy field instead of playing it safe, or an unsuspecting homebody training for a strength competition… anyone can gain inspiration by learning Caitlyn’s story. To go from a very well-known athlete and father to choosing to develop a completely new identity is a heavy commitment. With so many eyes on one person going through a major change (sexual or not), if we can keep the energy positive, imagine how many people this can motivate to set themselves free from societal pressure and expectation.
3. She proves that absolutely everyone has a story much deeper than the surface.
Who woulda thunk Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner was struggling with self-acceptance? Who would stop to think that he— now she— is also a human being? A lot of times, we tend to lose the sense that celebrities are people too and the expectations we have on those we’ve become familiarized with through media and social networks become more than just unrealistic, but extremely harsh. It’s easy for us to look at public figures and think their lives are so much easier than ours because of their wealth but could you imagine trying to deal with your issues with a camera in your face? Granted, I’m sure a lot of issues we as “common folk” have are not the same issues that Kim K and the fam deal with, but the point is they still have issues to face. Caitlyn just reminded us all that self-acceptance is hard for everyone. If that’s the case, shouldn’t we work as a team to help each other accept who we are instead of rejecting the unfamiliar?
4. She showed vulnerability.
Go hard. Turn up. Turn down for what?! It seems to be our motto nowadays to push it full throttle and live life to the fullest and there’s nothing wrong with that philosophy at all. However, Caitlyn showed us that in order to live life to the fullest, risks are involved. In order to take risk, one has to show vulnerability and courage to face the unknown future. Social media has been a nice blanket for all of us to shield ourselves with as we hide behind our doctored photos and fabricated updates about the faux-fab life we’re living in. Maybe it’s time to be a little vulnerable and show a different side of ourselves. Who knows? Maybe we’ll discover that our goals are similar and that we’re not all that different. Here’s to the hope for change and growth in unity.
5. She’s beautiful!
There’s no way around it. Image IS important. The crucial part of that factor is that your TRUE image is what’s important, not the image you think everyone else wants to see. That’s why I put this as a reason: Caitlyn’s TRUE image is what is beautiful. After the years of wondering “what if”, she took the chance to conquer the fear of regret. As a result, she was able to embrace the union between her inner soul and outer peace. It certainly helps to be physically appealing, which Caitlyn has discovered as a woman is the case for her newfound femininity. Beauty should always be celebrated. It should never be discouraged, judged or envied. The world needs to reveal true beauty in raw form. The world needs to see that beauty isn’t always a visual stimulation or easy to relate to. Beauty happens when the heart, mind and body are in harmony. Understanding that harmony comes differently in every individual is an understanding that can’t come soon enough.
I appreciate all things beautiful, no matter what form it takes and who it takes it in. I believe the world needs to be ready for more people like Caitlyn Jenner because the world needs to see that bravery can come from anywhere and be had by anyone, heroes or not.
The world we live in is a world that changes. So with that said, welcome to womanhood, Ms. Jenner. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.