Hero . . . it’s a word that’s being thrown around a lot these days. But what does it really mean?
Looking at the dictionary, it simply means someone who is admired for bravery, courage, or other such noble qualities. Since Caitlyn Jenner won the ESPY courage award, I’ve seen & heard a lot of outcry over how so many “more courageous” people should have received the award. But it seems obvious to me that heroes come in all shapes & sizes, all characters & varieties. Some heroes are conventional, like soldiers, firefighters, & EMTs. Others are less conventional . . . like Caitlyn Jenner.
While I am by no means discounting the bravery of more conventional heroes like those listed above, I ask that my fellow Americans & world citizens take a moment to consider how brave someone like Caitlyn Jenner really is. Being a soldier, firefighter, or EMT is by no means easy & certainly does require a great deal of bravery. But it’s also something that is greatly admired by the general public; thus it’s most unlikely that anyone will ever question your path in life because you’ve chosen such an admirable one. Now consider someone like Caitlyn Jenner: she has chosen a path that is full of angst & potentially even violence, as our society as a whole is not kind to or accepting of transgender people (& I imagine it is worse for those who are born physiologically male but identify as female, like Caitlyn). But despite these challenges, she has still chosen that path.
As a cisgender female, I confess I cannot truly imagine what it would be like to feel like I was born the wrong gender. And as much as I truly believe men & women have far more commonalities than differences, I can still empathize with how difficult it must be to feel trapped in the “wrong” body. And worse yet to feel like you cannot express these feelings without potentially being rejected by even your closest friends & family. How isolating that must be! It’s no wonder someone like Caitlyn Jenner spent the majority of her life as a man.
I know there are a lot of people (many in my own family) who argue that being transgender is just not natural. (Many of course argue the same thing for homosexuality.) But I just cannot bring myself to believe that anyone would CHOOSE to feel like they were born the wrong gender . . . (or CHOOSE to be gay or lesbian), especially considering how this “lifestyle” is still quite unaccepted in our society as a whole. It’s not like those of us who are cisgender &/or heterosexual CHOSE to be that way either. It’s just the way we were born. It’s what came naturally to us. But what comes naturally to one person doesn’t necessarily come naturally to everyone else, & as long as no one is getting hurt, I really don’t see what the big deal is. I truly don’t understand why it’s so difficult to believe that some people are just born differently.
I’m not transgender but I am a bit of a black sheep in my family: I drink (occasionally). I curse (because no one has ever been able to convince me that certain words are “bad;” that is just so completely illogical, but that is a whole other blog post unto itself). I support homosexuality & transgenderism (is that a word?). I listen to rock music & heavy metal. I lived with my husband before we were married (shocking, I know!).
But in spite of all these so-called “bad” traits, I’m a compassionate nurse who loves working with the elderly & volunteers with a local hospice group, & I go out of my way to feed the homeless as much as I can. Frankly, part of me loves screwing with people’s heads by being such a bad good girl (or maybe I should say a good bad girl?).
My point is that I know a little bit of what it’s like to “go against the grain.” I know what it’s like to keep your mouth shut & your opinions to yourself for fear of being regarded as a heathen liberal. Thankfully I am ever so slowly getting better at speaking my mind as I ever so slowly realize my family won’t actually disown me for being different, yet it is still really hard sometimes. But there comes a point when you realize that being true to yourself & your own beliefs is more important than appeasing others.
I’ve strayed from the original intent of this post, but what no one, & I do mean no one, has ever been able to answer on this subject is this one simple question that I really think clinches the issue: How are transgender people hurting anyone? How is Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn Jenner hurting a single person?
The answer to me is quite obvious: she isn’t. She is simply embracing the person she knows she really is. And in doing so I believe she will inspire others who are suffering in silence, afraid to live their lives as they really desire, to embrace their true selves & live the lives of which they’ve only dreamed.
And that is why Caitlyn Jenner really is a hero.