Hero and courage are words we use to exemplify a difficult time and overcoming those times. Lately we have begun to ask if certain people in particular situations deserve to be called heroic or courageous. Recently the ESPY committee decided to give the Arthur Ashe courage award to Caitlyn Jenner. The ESPY awards is the Emmy awards for the sports world. This caused an uproar because it was felt that she was not deserving that award. I mean really she just changed her name from Bruce to Caitlyn and put on a dress and makeup. What was so courageous about that?
Courage is defined as the ability to do something that frightens one; strength in the face of pain or grief. Because many of the general public have no idea what it means to live life in and as your unauthentic self, Bruce Jenner taking the bold step to come out as a transgender woman seemed less than courageous. It seemed like theatre at its best. You see there were no visible battle scars or war wounds. Sexual identity is something that is not understood by many. Therefore, to some it looks like this Olympian decided to one day play public dress up. We can’t see the scars of daily life feeling as if you are captured in the wrong body or that you must live as you were born because that is what is expected only to agonize daily for doing so. Living for everyone else. Just think how you would feel if every day of your life you had to wake up and wear a “mask” in order to be accepted or liked by the rest of the world. Did it take courage for Bruce Jenner to transition to Caitlyn on the stage? So we can debate all day whether Caitlyn should have received the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.
Many gay men and women live that life as well and I can tell you from personal experience it is not easy. It is very freeing to one day accept who you are on the public stage and roll the dice to see who will continue to love and support you. The decision to take that chance is not easy and in my own decision making I have lost from people that I called friend or had to hear the ignorant comments made by people who called themselves loving me but truly they did not understand me nor did they take the time to do so. The cost for me was difficult but the reward since living an authentic life as a same gender loving man has been priceless.
As of April 1st there were 14 transgender women that were murdered in 2015 of which half were women of color. Most of these murders appear to be hate-motivated crimes. The suicide or attempted suicide rate for 2015 among transgender individuals is 40%. To me that is an epidemic. Yes, Caitlyn is a woman of considerable financial means and access, however, she chose at the moment of the award acceptance to note the alarming murder and suicide statistics of transgender women. Her ability to speak to the issue on the public stage hopefully will lend itself to acceptance and understanding by the general public. Now I do not expect arms to immediately be outstretched to embrace transgender individuals but I know that this is a step in the right direction.
Living an authentic life is not an easy thing. We all, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transgender, etc. have something that we keep hidden from the public. May it be an addition or sexual proclivity we hide it because we do not want others to judge us. To expose that to the world and especially those who love you takes courage. Courage takes all shapes and forms but at the end of the day you do not get to tell me or anyone else what is courageous. Acceptance and understanding is what every human being desires in our everyday life. If you want to do your part then I ask that you go to your computer and Google gender identity to begin gain a better understanding. Life is too short to live it passing judgment for tomorrow the judgment may be passed upon you.
Courage is about perseverance, not bravery. Be courageous despite the dear.