Defining “Real” Courage and Bravery


definingcourageandbraveryMany people are sharing the Vanity Fair cover of Caitlyn, formerly Bruce, Jenner and using words like “courage” and “bravery” and yes, even “role model” to describe Jenner’s decision to finally embrace the life that she always felt that she was meant to live. Conversely, because there will always be people who must compare and, yes, judge what “courage” and “bravery” are, there have been a good number of “shares” on Facebook and other social media outlets about what “real” courage and/or bravery are. Mostly these posts contain pictures of military personnel who are clearly in harm’s way.

To this I say, “Really?”. No one — including me — would ever dispute the courage and bravery it must take to risk life and limb in a combat situation. Why, though, must people compare acts of courage? Is Caitlyn Jenner’s bravery “fake”? While her breasts surely are manufactured, her struggle has been anything but.

Is there some sliding scale where courage is concerned? Must one hold a gun to be considered brave? Is that the holy grail of bravery, of courage?

How about the single parent who works two minimum wage jobs to keep his or her family safe, clothed, sheltered, and fed? Are they less courageous, less brave than someone who defends a piece of land with a firearm, less worthy of being called a role model than Caitlyn Jenner? Certainly there are no parades when they return home from work every day, no Annie Leibovitz magazine covers in their futures.

What, exactly, is the criteria for bravery that would satisfy Ms. Jenner’s critics? Silencing them would be too much to ask for.

Would it help if a transgender individual came out and said “Caitlyn Jenner saved my life.”? Would that be enough? Because I am certain that she will save the life of at least one person struggling with gender identification. My guess is that it will be more than one, but what do I know?

Because Caitlyn Jenner — and folks like her — are not dropping bombs on our enemies (or their enemies), the service that they might well be performing should not be diminished or dismissed.

I happen to think that what our military personnel do on a daily basis is brave and courageous. I also happen to think that what Caitlyn Jenner has done is also brave and courageous. Are they different? Surely. So different, in fact, that I chafe at the comparison while I scratch my head at why one has to be “better” than the other.

Let’s celebrate both and stop comparing the two. While we’re at it, let’s go ahead and give that single parent a pat on the back, too. He or she is surely just as deserving. In fact, he or she may be raising the next Caitlyn Jenner or the next recipient of The Bronze Star. You never know.

21 thoughts on “Defining “Real” Courage and Bravery

  1. peachyteachy says:

    I have long resonated with the quote (attributed to Plato to McClaren), “Be kind; for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

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  2. You are so right! I think while there are some things about it I don’t agree with from a feminist standpoint I do think that what she did was brave. and I am very happy for her. The parts I don’t agree with are how It became all about sexuality and not about acceptance of all people no matter what they look like. That doesn’t take anything away from her courage.

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    • javaj240 says:

      Well, if you are going to finally become the woman you were meant to be, she may as well be sexy, right? She’s no spring chicken at this point. Those of us who have lived in our female bodies for a long time can let the sun set on the sexy if we like, but for someone for whom it is new — and all she ever wanted — I can’t say I blame her for wanting to look great. 🙂

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  3. I agree. Perhaps if we added heroic to describing our military personnel, it might make some feel better? There is a difference in bravery, but only within each person. Bravo Caitlyn! And to do this as a person already under the media microscope? BRAVE.

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  4. I find the whole subject odd – plain and simple. I don’t know what to say.

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  5. javaj240 says:

    That’s what I’m saying — that courage takes many forms. And I didn’t even get into the whole lotta brave it is just to be ourselves on a daily basis, LOL!

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  6. I think everyone should receive a medal at the end of the day for having survived the challenges of life.

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  7. rossmurray1 says:

    Courage, like everything else, is relative. It comes from inside. For some, just getting out of the bed every morning takes courage.
    This is great.

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  8. Chloe says:

    You make a solid point. One type of courage doesn’t discount or dismiss another type.

    For a former Olympic champion like Jenner to come forward with this is pretty…well…ballsy. I’m sure you, like most of the rest of my cohort, well remember when Jenner won the Decathalon. I wonder how it felt to be paraded through the streets of America as a hero knowing inside that if people really knew the truth about you they’d throw eggs instead…if you were lucky. What did it feel like seeing one’s unwanted visage on the front of a Wheaties box when deep inside another person was crying to get out.

    I never did understand that nose job until now. Bruce Jenner had a perfectly masculine nose. Now I see that Caitlyn Jenner has a perfectly feminine one. And somehow it all make sense.

    I don’t understand gender disorders as I’m most perfectly happy in my own skin, that way at least. But I do have a close friend who is transgendered and I know I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. She’s been ridiculed, attacked, literally beaten up by good ole boys who at least didn’t kill her, which has happened to others like Jenner.

    It always takes courage to be truly who you are. In fact, there isn’t hardly anything harder or more terrifying.

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    • javaj240 says:

      If there is anything more terrifying than being yourself, truly yourself — and showing it to the world — I can’t think of what it could be. Well, snakes, perhaps. They’re pretty freaking scary. 🙂

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