How does one define "courage". Well, its technical definition is "the ability to do something that frightens one" and/or "strength in the face of pain or grief". Okay, so that seems simple enough. Now, how do you measure courage? Ever since it was announced that Caitlyn Jenner would be receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage award at the 2015 ESPY's ceremony, a lot of people have been searching for a ways to weigh courage.
Previous honorees of this award have included Michael Sam, Robin Roberts, and of course Jim Valvano (who was the first honoree of this award). There might have been a small amount of commotion when Sam won it, but for the most part it hasn't been a big deal who won this specific award. But suddenly a whole lot of people care and are trying to pivot to other potential worthy people....and that's a problem.
In there search to undermine Jenner, people have tried to deflect, pointing out how others like Pete Frates, Lauren Hill or Noah Galloway are just as if not more deserving. Did that collective group demonstrate courage in their endeavors? Absolutely....however it still begs the question, why the need to undermine Jenner? This deflecting isn't just degrading to Caitlyn, but also to those 3, or any other name that's been pointed out as worthy of this award. Does not getting this award somehow take away the struggles that Frates, Hill or Galloway went through? Is your courage deemed null and void because it wasn't given a specific award? That seems to be the kind of logic people are using here. Putting this in another light, is a good movie's quality somehow lessened because it doesn't win an Oscar? Same could be said for music at the Grammy's. You don't necessarily need an award to deem something worthy. But why do so many suddenly care about this award?
Lets go back now to that definition of 'courage' ; "strength in the face of pain or grief". Just look at all the pushback, even from the likes of respected media members like Bob Costas. The criticism and harassment that ESPN and Caitlyn Jenner are facing shows why she's just as deserving of this honor. Transgender issues may be getting more of a media spotlight, but some still feign ignorance. (Here's my previous post on transgender issues ).
Going back to my last post, a lot of people are unaware of the issues that the transgender community may face. So here are just a few stats to help paint a broader picture (from the Washington Post). From a conducted survey, 41% of Transgender Americans attempted suicide, compared to just 1.6% of the general population. Also according to the survey, they're 4x as likely to live in poverty, and are unemployed at twice the rate of the general population. The transgender community also has to deal with discrimination of multiple forms, from housing and healthcare to workplace. They can also be at greater risk of sexual assault.
Taking those daunting facts into consideration, one can reason that it certainly takes courage to come out as transgendered, especially in the public eye as Caitlyn Jenner has. Granted, she has the money and resources, and isn't a reflection of every story from the transgender community, but its taken courage for her to merely come out publicly and live her life. Jenner has gone from one of the greatest athletes of a generation to now becoming a new icon and educating the public. She's worthy of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.