I'm guessing by now you've seen the news that Caitlyn Jenner won one of Glamour Magazine's Women of the Year awards. I'm also guessing that, like me, you've seen a lot of negative coverage about her receiving this award.
Maybe you've seen an acquaintance post an angry status on Facebook about how disgusting it is that 'men in dresses' can win this award? Maybe you saw the story about the widower who returned the Women of the Year award that his wife won for sacrificing her life during 9/11 because he was outraged that a 'man' had won the award? Or, maybe, you're personally furious that Caitlyn won because you refuse to accept that she won an award that's exclusively for women?
Well it's time to get one thing straight: Caitlyn Jenner is not a man. She identifies as a woman, and so she is a woman. Gender is not about genitals. It is not about how long you've identified as a 'man' or a 'woman' or any other gender. If you identify as a woman, you are a woman. No questions asked. Misgendering someone doesn't make you 'cool' or 'clever'. It doesn't make you 'funny'. All it does is make you ignorant.
The thing that baffles me the most is that, when she came out and that image of her on Vanity Fair was all over the Internet, there seemed to be very few negative comments about her gender. I mostly saw positive comments about her 'bravery' and 'glamorous look'. I mean, come on, she broke a world record for the quickest time to gain one million followers on Twitter. Would she really have got that response if so many people thought she was a 'fraud'?
So, why is it now - why is it when she's won this award, when the 'bravery' everyone spoke so much about has been acknowledged - that suddenly so many people have a problem?
Don't get me wrong: it's fine if you're sad that she won because you legitimately thought another woman should win. Maybe you'd have preferred to see the award handed to a less privileged transgender woman, a hero of war, or someone who had battled a terrible illness throughout the year. These women are also undeniably 'women of the year' in their own right, and so it's completely understandable why you'd want them to win.
I completely understand why you'd be unhappy when the person you think should win an award loses. I mean, when I was 6, my friend beat me at a colouring contest, and I was very unhappy that I lost because I really thought that I was the worthy winner. Also when, in 2009, Joe McElderry won the X Factor over Olly Murs, I wasn't too happy because I preferred Olly Murs' voice and I really thought he had more talent. I mean, even when it comes to Glamour Magazine's Women of the Year awards, I'm not entirely pleased, as I can't say that Caitlyn was my first choice of winner.
But, the thing is, even when I was 6 - even when I was a small child sat in a classroom finding out that I had lost a competition to my friend - my first thought wasn't to insult my friend. I didn't for a second think to throw hurtful insults at the competition's winner. Yeah, it would've been nice to win, but I didn't, and so I congratulated my friend and moved on. If children can lose an award and act like this then, as an adult, what's your excuse to act so maliciously when you don't get what you want?
Also, it's important to note that bravery isn't just about physically saving others from dangerous situations. It's crucial to realise that acts of bravery come in all shapes and sizes. Caitlyn may've not pulled a person from a burning building, or saved an animal from drowning, but that doesn't mean she isn't brave. It doesn't mean she hasn't saved lives.
You only have to look at comments on articles written about her winning this award to see that transphobia is still a huge problem in society. You only have to look at the latest statistics surrounding transgender mental health to see that suicide attempts amongst transgender people are excruciatingly high. Sure, Caitlyn may've not physically pulled a person to safety, but even if her speeches or media presence has made one person feel more comfortable with their gender identity, even if she has helped to save one more person who was drowning in society's transphobia, then surely that makes her at least a little bit heroic?
You may still disagree, that's fine. You may still be adamant that she's not heroic, that she's not a worthy winner. That's also fine. But one thing you must agree with is the fact that Caitlyn is a woman. She is not a 'man in a dress' or a 'man is disguise'. She identifies as a woman; therefore, she is a woman.Suggest a correction