Caitlyn Jenner Isn’t My Hero Either

Caitlyn Jenner is Not a Hero
Before you’re offended, THINK about it…

Author’s Note: A military spouse site shared this post on their Facebook page which, within minutes, caused outrage. Let’s get a few things straight:

The title of this post includes the word MY. That means this is MY opinion. This post refers to what I think. In no way does that mean YOU have to agree or think this way. I am not speaking for anyone else or for the milspouse community. Nor am I so arrogant as to think any other milspouse would automatically agree with me because she or he is married to someone in the military. We’re not robots.

I oversaw case management for three hospitals at one time in my life, one of which specialized in gender reassignment surgery. Over the course of years, I saw many patients through their transitions. I am writing based on those experiences and the requests of my former patients and how THEY wished to be referred – past and present. In just hanging up the phone with one of those people whom I now call a friend, he disagrees with my definition of hero. However, he also feels Caitlyn is not the face of the transgender community: “She is wealthy and has celebrity at her feet. Go talk to the kids from middle-America. Go talk to those who have fought insurance companies…a rich celebrity is not our face.”  As stated previously, your opinions and your experiences may be different. And that’s fine. The conversation can be productive and, yes, I heard what those attacking me wanted to get across. 

Last week I read a post entitled WE’RE A MILITARY FAMILY AND CAITLYN JENNER ISN’T OUR HERO by Jill at Ripped Jeans and Bifocals addressing issues she has with Caitlyn Jenner being named recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Let me get this out of the way and put it out here right now: I love what she wrote and I wholeheartedly agree with it.

Now, before you get too hot under the collar let me put this out there, too: It is very rare I get into anything politics-related on my blog. BUT for the sake of calming anyone’s preconceived notions that I am some “uptight conservative” you can rest assured I am not. In fact, I am a registered independent who does not believe in broad stroking with my paint-brush. I don’t read something on the internet about the President’s apparent shortcomings and ascertain it as automatic truth. I form my opinions based on experience and research. On the issue of equality, for me, it’s a no-brainer. I have marched in Pride parades alongside friends whom I adore. I have cried with them through trials and triumphs. I have loudly shared my opinion on topics like gay marriage. I have held patients’ hands as they’ve awoken from gender reassignment surgery and supported them prior to this major life-changing decision. I do NOT want a pat on the back. I am just one person doing what I believe is the right thing. In my book love is love, human is human and I certainly support Bruce Jenner’s decision and right to become and live as Caitlyn Jenner…

But I don’t think Caitlyn is a hero. There is no question that Bruce Jenner and what he did to arrive at his decision remains to be brave. Caitlyn? The world has known Caitlyn for a few weeks. What I know about Caitlyn, the woman: SHE received compensation to pose for a major international magazine. She is beginning a television series for which she will receive a whole lotta money. I have not seen her speak to the transgender community, short of one interview in a magazine. I have not seen HER contributions. That is not to say she won’t make them in the future. Bruce Jenner conducted a two-hour long interview for which he also received a large sum of money. The honesty. The pain. The story. Amazing. And all from Bruce. Right here, right now, I will tell you neither is “more of” a hero than veterans like Noah Galloway.

I shared Jill’s article on my Facebook page and it resulted in a somewhat heated debate. I received over-the-top private messages that were out of line and in the thread itself I was told that I am negating the good Bruce Jenner has done for the younger transgender generation by stating that Noah Galloway deserved the award more. I was told the ESPY awards don’t matter. I was told Bruce Jenner’s story will help prevent suicides in the young transgender community. And I was told Galloway was never a runner-up. Let’s address these points. Agree or disagree, that’s cool by me. But ask yourself this – there are men and women who die every single day to defend their country. Short of my milspouse readers out there – how many of those men and women can you name? Now, how many of you can tell me what Caitlyn Jenner was wearing on the cover of Vanity Fair? How many of you can name a bunch of men who defend a football for a living? Now name five men who defend the country for a living? Get the point?

Noah Galloway was not a runner-up for the Arthur Ashe award.
No. He was not a runner-up. This is correct and the meme that has been circulating on the internet is untrue. However, he was in the running.

Bruce and Caitlyn Jenner sharing their stories will inspire and raise awareness for the younger transgender community. It will also result in the prevention of suicide.
Yes. They will. And each day, at least twenty-two veterans commit suicide. Noah Galloway also shared his story about PTSD and raised awareness for what our veterans go through when they return from war zones. He speaks around the nation to inspire others. Let us not make one issue more important than the other.

Bruce Jenner was an amazing athlete.
Yes. Bruce Jenner was an amazing athlete. As far as I know, Caitlyn has not participated in any sports activities and I cannot speak or write to her athletic abilities. Noah Galloway currently runs marathons, iron-man races, adventure races and participates in Cross-Fit competitions. He is in amazing condition and his philosophy for no excuses is one to be applauded.

ESPN, its messages and awards don’t matter
ESPN’s website has 16.6 million unique viewers per day. WatchESPN logs 1.1 BILLION(!) minutes per month for live and replay events. ESPN Radio reaches 23 million listeners per week, ESPN Demand had over 272.3 million downloads in 11 months’ time and Sports Center alone averages 115 million viewers per month. ESPN is a major influence and I’d argue the extremely far-reaching messages to their readership and viewers do matter. (For a full list of their stats, click here).

Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Parades, Marches, Appreciation Days all exist in accolade to our veterans.
Parades exist for the transgender communities and so do awards and even museums.

It’s not a pissing match.

I was fourteen years old walking through Beverly Hills to an eye doctor appointment with my father who was in uniform. A man walked past us and called my father a baby rapist. I remember the moment clearly. Everything stopped for me. My dad shook it off though 25 years later I wonder how he really felt about it. I didn’t understand. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. He explained some people didn’t agree with Vietnam and that is how they felt about Vietnam vets. He acted like it was normal. I wanted to scream…

I’m a civilian who has had three generations of men in my life who chose to serve their country. Let’s call a spade a spade: I am biased.  Unless you have lived this life and unless you have known someone so selfless as to dedicate themselves to a job for which they will be potentially criticized and called horrific names or potentially die, I will tell you right now, you won’t “get it.” If you haven’t feared for your loved one’s life when he or she goes to work or for their diminished mental capacity because they are fulfilling a job duty, you can’t get it. Just like I won’t get the things for which I don’t have first-hand experience.

Military engagement photo

There are many types of heroes.
Yes there are. And yes, it comes down to a matter of opinion. I’m here giving mine. I welcome you to leave yours (for real). If you feel a man who has used his power, celebrity, wealth and ability to make a call to effect change as he becomes the woman he believed himself to be is more deserving of the title “hero” than someone who gave his limbs for his nation, I will vehemently believe in your right to think that way. I will also disagree with you  as I encourage you to get to know the stories of three men who I have been honored to love: my grandfather, my father and my husband. My entire life I have lived with heroes. I have been witness to the definition of courage that meant sacrificing with no expectation for gain or recognition in return.

Bruce was brave. And all but a memory of Bruce is gone.

Caitlyn’s heroism? The world doesn’t know her yet and for me, it remains to be seen*.

*For clarification, edited from: That remains to be seen.