Many 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.