This is Harriette Thompson. She is 92 years old and just ran a marathon last weekend. Since I am friends with a lot of runners, I saw her picture and her story shared time and time again. People said, “She’s my hero! I want to be her when I grown up!”
And dude. ME TOO. Ditto. What you said. ALL OF IT. She is totally my hero and I totally want to be here when I grow up.
You know what I didn’t see? Anyone building a diptych of her face and that of a firefighter’s face and saying, “Let me remind you what a real hero is.”
No one posted pictures of soldiers in combat to remind us that those are the REAL heroes, not some grandma runner.
No one argued with the word hero describing her accomplishment.
At least not in my circle. Maybe if you’re in a grandma-hating circle you saw it, but not one person had a problem with people calling her their hero.
Last year a girl named Kamryn Renfro shaved her head in solidarity of her friend with cancer and then got punished for it at her school for breaking dress code. She was all over the media where people talked about her bravery. And I didn’t see one person using the image of a soldier carrying his wounded friend and reminding everyone what REAL bravery was.
What is my point?
My point is that if you have a problem with people calling Caitlyn Jenner “brave” or a “hero”, then you’re problem is with her and her story, not with people forgetting what “real” bravery or “real” heroes are. People call regular Joes brave heroes every day. Every time I conquer some fitness goal someone tells me I’m their hero. We tell our kids they’re brave all the time. No one jumps up and corrects our use of the word and reminds us that there’s REAL bravery and REAL heroes in police uniforms or firetrucks or fighting for our freedom.
The words “brave” and “hero” are used daily to describe a wide range of people so – unless you hunt down every person who uses those words for their kids or the grandma runners in their community – then you need to give those of us who use it for Caitlyn Jenner a break. Yes – her supporters have been heard far and wide but spend 5 seconds going through twitter replies or facebook comments and you’ll see the horrible and terrible things people are saying to and about Caitlyn. And it’s not rare. I found terrible comments about her in about 2 seconds on every single local news outlet’s facebook post. And those words that people spit out into the internet are exactly why trans teens are more likely to attempt suicide than their cisgendered counterparts. They’re more likely to face bullying, turn to self harm or drugs, or to end up homeless. Transgender Men and Women are not usually embraced by their communities when they announce their new identities, so each one who does it spreads awareness for the men and women behind them.
I loved this quote here from Jennifer Boylan in this HuffPo piece. You can interchange “academic theory” with “publicity stunt” in the case of Caitlyn, but it’s all the same:
It’s worth remembering that for many trans people, our lives are not a clever academic theory but a daily struggle against violence and a difficult search for dignity and respect. If you’re talking to a trans person, make sure that you are thinking of them as an individual whose fight for identity is real, not as a person whose identity is some kind of scholarly abstraction.
The daily struggle is hard. The road with a new identity is not easy. Knowing the entire world is asking questions about very private issues is disconcerting. So the word “brave” and “hero” are completely suitable to use. And do you know what using the word “brave” and “hero” for Caitlyn does NOT do?
- Does NOT slight the bravery of soldiers or police officers or firefighters. You are allowed to call more than one person “brave” or a “hero” in a day. And if you can? You’re blessed to be exposed to that much courage.
- Does NOT equate to support for her in the past as a Father or a Husband or even a decent person. I know nothing about her life as Bruce. I didn’t/don’t watch the Kardashians. I don’t know how her marriage ended or if she abandoned her kids. All I know is that it takes a lot of courage to throw her face out in the media with her true/new identity.
Seeing the LGBTQ struggle of teens and young adults, especially in the South, has made it so that I commend every celebrity who comes out – whether gay, trans, or bi – because the more normalized this type of identity becomes, the less bullying and reparative therapy and suicide we’ll see in teens in the community.
So I will continue to call them all brave. They will all be heroes to me. Because they’re paving the road to a more accepting world for kids struggling with their sexual and gender identities today.
15 thoughts on “A World Full Of Bravery Of All Types Is Not A Bad Thing.”
Yes. This. My father fought in the Pacific in WWII, and he would have thought that Caitlynn Jenner was bloody brave.
I am usually just a lurker, but I was so moved I had to comment. This entry is perfection. Yes, yes, yes to all of it.
Thank you so much for finding the words to express this. I would share your post, but I don’t want to attract a bunch of loons to ruin your day in the comments.
Well said! You are my hero for bringing this to light.
Like you said, people who say they have a problem with the use of words like “hero” or “bravery” in this case are exposing what their real problem is. It has nothing to do with the use of those words; that’s just an excuse. I’m incredibly tired of people making excuses for what is really hatred and bigotry. I have no patience for their lies.
YES. THIS. Those facebook posts were making me CRAZY yesterday.
This is exactly what I was thinking all day (as week add the fact that I need to delete some people).
I often stop people at work from competing in pain Olympics. There is no gold medal for the most pain, the hardest life, etc.
Heroics are the same. There is no criteria, no checklist to work from, no either/or.
I got SET OFF yesterday at one of these memes because it had a wounded soldier being carried, firefighter-style, by his mate, and the wounded soldier was shooting the troops following them. It was a GREAT picture, and I stopped and thought, “Ooh, I hope the caption is something like I’VE GOT YOUR BACK”, but instead, it was decrying something COMPLETELY UNRELATED. You’re doing a disservice to the armed military at that point too.
I have been reading for…10 years? And have never commented, until today. I just loved this and wanted to let you know how happy I was to read it.
Perfect response to this absurdity.
Why does the conservative mindset believe that praising one act of bravery somehow diminishes another ?
I’m glad that I’m not the only person that sees this illogic.
YES. So very well said…
Bravo! This is awesome.
I loved this post. I saw this today and was wondering if you had seen it yet: http://distractify.com/Mustafa-Gatollari/jenner-irony/?ts_pid=2
Such a great twist on what you were discussing!