Amid scrutiny, Caitlyn Jenner was presented with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPY’s last night. Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, a celebrated Olympian and the stepfather of one of TV’s most notorious family’s, the Kardashians, made her public debut about a month ago on the cover of Vanity Fair.
While Jenner has received overwhelming support from many people around the globe, especially members of the LGBT community and its supporters, the presentation of the award to Jenner led to harsh criticism from those who do not agree with or understand the LGBT community. It also led to the comparison of Jenner to others who may arguably be more deserving, such as Noah Galloway or Lauren Hill. Hill did receive the ESPY’s “Best Moment” award, which was accepted by her parents.
There is no doubt that there have been many, many men and women including Hill and Galloway, who have shown courage in various ways that are all deserving of such an award and could have easily been chosen. But the decision to award Jenner the Courage award doesn’t take away from their accomplishments, bravery or the impact that they’ve had on thousands of people in any way.
To even attempt to compare those that we consider heroes is disingenuous, as we take away the personal traits that we consider so great in our heroes and attempt to fit them into one category of who and what a hero should be. Considering somebody a hero does not mean that their traits must be compartmentalized into once specific category of who, and what, makes a hero.
In the case of Jenner, she is a hero for the LGBT community. Some people may not understand this, but that doesn’t give us the right to try and take away from her. Not every single person may consider her a hero, but that doesn’t mean that to others she is not. It’s not an insult to the Kardashian/Jenner family when people harshly criticize Jenner – it’s an insult and an attack on an entire group of people, a group of people who do not feel comfortable in their own skin, and regardless of anyone’s beliefs, that is wrong.
Jenner’s receiving of the Courage award is about something much bigger than a trophy and a title. It’s a way of showing the world that we can and should be accepting of each other, regardless of what we look like or who we are or the decisions that we make, which ultimately affect nobody besides ourselves. It is not up to us to judge or degrade anyone for how they feel, or who they are, especially when their personal decisions have absolutely no bearing on our own lives.
In reality, this award isn’t about the trophy or the title. And in the grand scheme of things, this award isn’t what it’s all about, either. It’s about what’s in the heart, which is what leads these brave men and women who surround us everyday to lead by example and to exercise compassion and courage for their fellow human beings.