I doubt that the media attention surrounding the transformation of Bruce Jenner into Caitlin Jenner is a surprise to anyone. If anything there is even less surprise surrounding the assignment of the title hero status, and the subsequent posts with pictures of soldiers, veterans, firefighters and all manner of others indignantly decrying the application of this term in these circumstances.
Heroism is generally associated with courage, and should be. Has Bruce (and subsequently Caitlin) Jenner displayed courage through the course of these events? It’s really still two different questions at the end of the day, so let’s approach it that way. Let’s start with the courage issue.
Bruce was in fact a part of a family known for it’s appetite for media coverage, so many have used that as reason enough to dismiss the public manner of unveiling this transformation as simple publicity seeking. Keep in mind that Bruce Jenner was already an internationally known Olympian athlete. His celebrity status was very well known and accepted.
That being said, had this occurred before he was tied to the Kardashian clan the media circus would still have been enormous. Bruce could never become Caitlin in anonymity. Not in today’s world of the 24 hour news cycle, and certainly not with the current political climate.
The only avenue left to Bruce was to carefully craft these events so that he controlled the media narrative before, and Caitlin did so after the transition. It was arguably handled as adeptly as was possible given these circumstances. This has taken painstaking planning and discipline that few besides Olympians could even contemplate.
Was this courageous?
Endeavoring to go through such a momentous life change such as this is so daunting that to think anyone would consider it if they had any other choice for a fulfilling life is absurd.
Bruce Jenner made this decision also knowing in advance that it would make him the target of hatred from millions fueled by misunderstanding, ignorance, closely held religious views and too many more reasons to count as well.
Bruce had a life that most would have considered too filled with blessings to count, and chose to put that at risk for something so different that it would instill fear in any thinking person. The negatives so far outweighed the positives for anyone that had any other choice available to them.
As large as the storm would be from the news media, he had to know that the backlash on social media would be even bigger. This is where the really hurtful things would take place.
Knowing all of this, Bruce decided to move ahead. Whether you agree with that decision or not, how can anyone say that this was not an extremely courageous decision?
Does this make Bruce and/or Caitlin Jenner a hero?
Holding someone as a hero is a very personal thing. This goes beyond merely admiring someone’s courage, and is at the heart of who each of us seeks to be as a person.
In the end, each of us has to decide if hero is an appropriate description of what Bruce and then Caitlin have done, and for what reasons.
Every day now you can see posts on Facebook with pictures of Caitlin’s Vanity Fair cover alongside pictures of soldiers, firefighters and all manner of other people that are considered heroes (and rightly so!) by many people.
Whether you find Bruce and/or Caitlin Jenner to be courageous or heroic is completely unrelated to the courage and heroism of anyone else.
Courage can and is displayed every day in an infinite number of ways. The individual acts of courage we see inspire us in just as many ways.
There is little doubt that we each have many heroes that we admire, and seek to emulate in some manner. Does acquiring one more mean leaving another behind?
Does admiring the courage and heroism of the firemen that risked and even gave their lives on 9/11 mean that we have somehow lost respect or any level we may have had for our nation’s soldiers and veterans?
Then why must we compare this situation to any other when discussing Bruce and/or Caitlin’s courage?
We can simply look at this for what it is, and decide in our own hearts how we feel about this extremely complex situation and course of events.
Many people admire the courage displayed by soldiers that are motivated by love of country and freedom while feeling that the war they have been sent to fight was entered into for unworthy reasons.
Why then couldn’t people appreciate the courage of Bruce Jenner even if they cannot understand (and even don’t approve of) what would motivate Bruce to go through what he had to in order to become Caitlin?
As you can probably tell, I’ve gone to great pains to avoid certain types of phrasing that would allow some individuals to discount this discourse out of hand. There is no intent here to change anyone’s religious views, or their feelings about transgender individuals.
There is a determined attempt to open people’s minds and hearts to the viewpoints of others without experiencing it as an attack on themselves.
There is no such attack.
Have Bruce Jenner and subsequently Caitlin Jenner displayed courage and acted courageously? Most definitely…
Does that appropriately make either or both of them heroes to people?
That’s not for either of us to say…