Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should know the name Caitlyn Jenner.
You might also know Jenner by her previous name of Bruce — the Olympic gold medalist and reality television star.
Earlier this year, Jenner came out as a transgender woman in an interview with journalist Diane Sawyer. Immediately, she was confronted with scores of criticisms. Furthermore, Jenner was met with praise for having the courage to come out as a transgender person.
The praise was warranted because, let’s be honest, trans people are not universally met with the friendliest of reactions.
Last month, Jenner made her way to the stage at the ESPYs, ESPN’s annual awards ceremony, and accepted the Arthur Ashe Award of Courage. She received a standing ovation as she made a speech that preached tolerance and acceptance.
Jenner recognized her new role as the unofficial face of the transgender community and pledged that society should let young people discover who they really are rather than take some bigoted stance against them.
Reaction to ESPN’s decision to present the award to Jenner has been strong on social media. Across multiple platforms, the sports giant has been both panned and commended for the move.
The critics point to people like military veteran Noah Galloway or the late Lauren Hill as more worthy recipients of the award. Galloway is a double amputee who competes in crossfit competitions, while Hill kept playing basketball long after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.
Both would have been worthy recipients of the award. In fact, Hill was posthumously awarded the ESPY for Best Moment.
When news first broke a month ago that Jenner would be given the courage award, I was skeptical of the reasoning behind it. There had to be more worthy recipients, I thought.
That was my gut reaction. Thinking about it now, my reaction isn’t the same.
It took guts to present herself to the world as a woman. It took courage to ask for acceptance in a society that sometimes doesn’t know the meaning of the word.
It’s a moot point that Jenner has had little to do with the sporting world in the last couple of decades. It took courage to do what she did.
You know what’s not courage?
Having a heart attack on a National Hockey League bench and then wanting to stay in the game. People call that courage when in reality that’s just stupid.
To some, playing with a blood clot is the definition of courageous. Those people need to get their heads checked.
Yet, people have the audacity to compare the two. Look, hockey players are tough. No one can take that away from them.
But reentering a game with stitches, broken teeth or just having had your heart restarted with a defibrillator doesn’t really count as being courageous.
When a person keeps moving forward despite overwhelming odds, that’s courage and Jenner displayed that.