|Photo credit : Caitlyn Jenner|
Ever since Caitlyn Jenner came out as Transgender on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine and received the prestigious Arthur Ashe Courage Award live at The Espy awards there is still an ongoing debate concerning what a " Hero" actually is. Amongst many people on social media this is still a hot topic with various memes and statuses arguing that Caitlyn Jenner should have not received this award and that she is not courageous, brave or a " Hero" for just deciding to live her life as a woman after 65 years. They go on to compare her to the men and woman injured while serving our country that still have the spirit to persevere and break records in sports as being the " real " heros. While I agree these individuals should be commended and are definitely courageous ...I am not so sure that I believe Caitlyn Jenner doesn't deserve the same title as well.
About the award as copied from http://espn.go.com/espys/arthurasheaward
" The Ashe Award is one of the most prestigious in sports. Recipients reflect the spirit of Arthur Ashe, possessing strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs no matter what the cost. The award is inspired by the life that Ashe lived, using his fame and stature to advocate for human rights, although, at the time, those positions may have been unpopular and were often controversial. From speaking out against apartheid in South Africa to revealing to the world his struggle with AIDS, Ashe never backed away from a difficult issue, even though doing so would have been easier. Winners of the Ashe Award strive to carry on Ashe's legacy in their own lives - - inspired by those who do so each day."
In my opinion many people acting out were not even aware of the criteria that Mr.Ashe intended for the award recipient and we saw people jumping on a bandwagon mostly for a chance to be snarky about a still taboo topic ...transgenderism. On the scarier side Caitlyn received death threats and hate tweets.
Caitlyn Jenner has not just decided to become a woman overnight. This is something she has struggled with since she was a young child. Due to obvious pressures of society , on top of being a world renowned Olympian, Caitlyn stopped an earlier attempt at transitioning and further hid her true feelings with secrets and lies. Ultimately after much soul searching Caitlyn decided she rather live as her authentic self than go on any further and in doing so , being the public figure she is, faced a media firestorm where no one could have guessed the outcome. Many people were accepting however this is not the case for the average person who is transgendered out of the public's eye.
As seen in Caitlyn's new docu-series on Entertainment Television " I Am Cait" we see a woman willing to take on the burden for a life she is just becoming a part of ( not trying to be a martyr) and just beginning to understand. I Am Cait was filmed as she just transitioned and they even covered the ESPY award and Cait's now infamous acceptance speech. I see a Cait who is taking on the role of advocate and is trying her best to stay humble, aware of her privilege, while shedding a light on a topic that rarely gets the attention it needs and deserves. The facts are, whether you are aware or not, that people who are transgender have the highest murder/suicide rate in our world today all because they are trying to live their lives as who they really are. Just think about that for a moment.Really think about it as if it were as real to you as it is to them.How can anyone not think this needs to be addressed/stopped?!
Many people who are transgendered are homeless, can not find employment due to discrimination, can not find health care and often times are shunned by their families left to fend for themselves. In watching I Am Cait we are seeing ground breaking television spotlighting what it means to be transgendered and hopefully normalizing it as it should be and there is still a long way to go. Caitlyn has cleverly inserted many new friends who are transgendered so they may share their stories which are unique as they are...they themselves being skeptical of Caityln as their new spokesperson however you can see they are genuinely appreciative for the media attention and awareness that I Am Cait is bringing to the community. This no way negates all the pioneers that have come before, and there has been many...the best part is Cait knows this and makes us aware she is only a vessel. I am not sure what your definition of a " Hero" is but I do know the way I see it...Caitlyn Jenner is courageous, brave and a " Hero" for making an attempt to save lives while you sit on your couch and judge her.
For information on how you can help www.Iamtransgendered.com
Watch Caitlyn Jenner on " I Am Cait" Sunday's 8/7C on Entertainment Televsion
Follow Caitlyn on Twitter @Caitlyn_Jenner
Follow the show @IAmCait
Follow me @BillyCharlesNY