Editor: Caitlyn’s courage calls for respect

By: Steven Goodman – Opinions Editor

“Courageous” has become the adjective of the week, particularly in the context of whether or not Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner is courageous. Vanity Fair released a cover with a photo of Jenner featuring the caption “Call me Caitlyn.” Almost immediately, remarks judging her based solely on her looks began to roll in. While that’s a problem in itself, another issue was raised: Is this courage?

I would say, of course it is.

Too often we place the label of “courageous” strictly on lone soldiers standing against some fearsome enemy like ISIS. Obviously this is courage, but it should not be the go-to image of a brave individual.
Soldiers entering a war zone. A teenager standing up to a physically abusive bully. A person being attacked because of who he or she loves. Someone confronting someone who sexually assaulted them. Someone who identifies as transgender acting as the gender he or she identifies with.

Every single one of those people is courageous. Courage is the ability to stand up in the face of oppression, to do something that frightens you, to have strength in the face of pain. It takes strength to stand against someone who has thrown you out for loving someone of the same sex or identifying as a woman when you were born a man in the same way it takes courage to enter a battlefield knowing there’s potential to be shot and killed. Emotional battery can have the same effect on the brain as a bullet does to the body.

It’s true I do not understand what Caitlyn Jenner has been going through as someone who is transgender, but when a study by the Williams Institute at UCLA finds 41 percent of transgender adults have attempted suicide, courage is definitely the word to describe her.

It’s certainly reasonable to say that you do not understand the struggles she and other transgender individuals have gone through. That, however, is no reason to say every single one of them is not courageous.

Many who say Jenner’s transition is not courage attack her even further. How can you say she is not a courageous individual when she withstands those who say transgenderism is unnatural? By standing up to the bigoted comments against those who identify as transgender, she has proven that what she is doing is courageous.

Courage comes in many forms, not just that of a soldier in a war zone. I am sure the majority of people would agree with me if I said a child standing up to a bully is courageous or a person who confronts a sexual assaulter is courageous. The way I see it, those who identify as transgender are people standing up to yet another bully, so why would we treat them as anything less?

If you have an opinion and want to write about it, email Opinions Editor Steven Goodman at goodmans1@udayton.edu.

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