Most people are probably sick of hearing about the artist formerly known as Bruce Jenner. Since the recent revealing that Caitlyn Jenner is "for all intents and purposes, a woman" there has been an outpouring of support for her transition in embracing her true identity. I'm not a transgender person, but like many people, I get it. I get why people may feel like they are born in the wrong body and may want to change that as best they can to fully embrace their true self. On the flipside, I also understand why some people may be compelled to keep those feelings and those urges a secret from everyone. Caitlyn Jenner did it for 60+ years. She lived the life in a body she never truly felt comfortable or happy in. She always felt there was something different and then, one day recently, she decided enough was enough and then she addressed all the rumours and all the speculation; finally accepting that she was a woman.
Since then she has made moves to fully transition into a woman and the recent Vanity Fair shoot revealed Caitlyn Jenner for the first time. While it was no doubt a cause for anxiety for Caitlyn, the photoshoot has led to constant praise of her courage, hailing the fact that she will be a hero to many people around the world. Well, sadly, as with everything, the praise wasn't universal. There has been a growing trend of people who, even if they may on the face of it be supportive of LGBT people, attempting to delegitimise what it actually takes for Caitlyn Jenner to do what she did and the positive impact that will actually have. They have done this by comparing the bravery with that of soldiers who have been harmed in combat overseas. Now, politics on the wars the West are fighting aside, I find this comparison not only stupid, but downright infuriating. But let me explain.
The image on the right is one that I've seen quite a bit over the last few days. Sure, soldiers are brave. How can you not be considered brave when you're in an area where at any moment a chunk of metal could blow off your head? But soldiers don't own the exclusive rights to bravery, nor are they the only ones capable of being heroes. Sure, the chap in the picture is a hero to somebody somewhere, but so is Caitlyn Jenner for different reasons. She has told millions of boys, girls, men or women around the world that you don't have to be ashamed of who you are, and you can, and should, embrace it.
There are some, even in her close family, that question the motivations behind her transition, but honestly, would her true motivations matter if it achieved a lot of good? The tragic suicide of Leelah Alcorn should be an example to everyone as to why people like Caitlyn Jenner have every right to be called heroes in their own right. One has to imagine that perhaps the suicide could have been prevented had she had a hero or someone to look to as a beacon of hope for her against her bigoted Christian parents.
While the courage and bravery of soldiers is certainly something to be respected, so too is the bravery of Caitlyn Jenner who risked the ostracism of her family, friends, and the potential destruction of her entire life by making the decision she did. If that decision encourages just one person to embrace their true self, then I would say that makes her a hero.