January 5th, 2016

Let’s talk about bravery today.

Or, ok, I’ll write about bravery and if you’re here then you’re reading about what I write. Whatever.

But yes. Bravery. It comes to mind because of recent memes / pictures shared on social media about Caitlyn Jenner. They were pretty prevalent last year but I didn’t comment on them then, but seeing how I’m trying to blog more this year and I don’t want every day to be filler (like most of this has been so far, sorry) I figured why not address it now? Better late than never, I suppose.

If you have a social media account of any type you’ve likely seen some variation of this: usually a picture of an armed forces soldier or veteran with text along the lines of “this is what real bravery looks like.” The most recent version I saw was a picture of Terry Fox stating this is what Canadians call bravery along side a picture of Caitlyn Jenner saying this is what Americans call bravery.

Now, I am far from an expert when it comes to transgender issues, nor will I pretend to be. I have no idea what Caitlyn Jenner or any other trans person is going through. I also am not suggesting that she’s perfect or flawless (terms that make me grind my teeth a little but that’s another topic for another time), and in fact I’ve read about issues the trans community has had with how she’s discussed things as well. I do, however, believe what she did took a tremendous amount of courage.

The problem I have with the memes / pictures is this: when did we ever agree that there is one and only one type of bravery? Why is it not possible for both Caitlyn Jenner to be considered brave and for our soldiers and veterans, for who I am eternally grateful for their sacrifice and service, to be considered brave as well?

I’ve never seen anyone claim Caitlyn Jenner is braver (or just as brave) as them because it isn’t (and shouldn’t be) a competition. Soldiers, veterans, police officers, fire fighters, all of them can still be brave as well. People either don’t get that or, worse, are threatened that a trans person announcing their presence to the world somehow diminishes themselves or other people.

Or, well, there are worse reasons but I don’t want to linger on those.

Further, it’s such a fallacy that you can negate one type of bravery for another. To that end, compare the bravery of soldiers to that of, say, cancer patients fighting for their lives. Does one of those trump the other, erasing the others’ bravery? What about survivors of domestic abuse? Or child abuse? Of course not. It’d be ridiculous to compare those types of bravery to each other, so why would you do when it comes to Caitlyn Jenner?

The answer is simply, really. You don’t.

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