The reactions to Caitlyn Jenner receiving the Arthur Ashe Award has about pushed my last button. From defriending people on Facebook to being rants here - I want to talk about something I Do. Not. Talk. About.
Because I'm sick of all this bullshit.
More below the doobydoo.
1. Caitlyn Jenner doesn't "deserve" the Arthur Ashe Award because she's not "brave"/shouldn't qualify/she only got it because she's trans.
2. Caitlyn Jenner is a rich republican and therefore is not an "authentic" transwoman.
3. She can only do harm/will never be qualified to speak because she hasn't suffered enough.
4. The usual penis = destiny bullshit from outside the trans community.
My response to the bullshit:
1. She is one of an small group of people in this world - gold metal winners. She is a member of an even smaller group - DECATHLON winners. Then we get to the actual qualifications for the award itself beyond being an athlete - which she certainly was - quotes courtesy of permission by CatM, who made an excellent comment on the subject in another diary:
Recipients reflect the spirit of Arthur Ashe, possessing strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs no matter what the cost....
Link to the requirements
The award is inspired by the life that Ashe lived, using his fame and stature to advocate for human rights, although, at the time, those positions may have been unpopular and were often controversial.
Possessing strength in the face of adversity
Being assigned male at birth when you are actually a woman in a society that has historically treated transgender people pretty badly is an adverse situation. Announcing that you are transgender despite societal attitudes is showing strength.
Courage in the face of peril
Per one dictionary, peril is something that may cause "injury, loss, or destruction." It is not very specific about what type of loss. What injury, loss, or destruction did Jenner face? Living with gender dysphoria, which Jenner admits she had since childhood, is very perilous. Transgender people are 10 times more likely to attempt suicide. Jenner felt suicidal at times. She faced the risk of rejection by her family. She was fortunate it did not happen, but it was a peril that she greatly feared. She risked the loss of her career, which also did not happen but could have and probably would have if she had transitioned even a decade earlier. Since transitioning and even before, she has faced a lot of public ridicule, verbal abuse, and scorn. I'd say she has faced peril, although it doesn't seem like the worst peril imaginable.
"using his fame and stature to advocate for human rights, although, at the time, those positions may have been unpopular and were often controversial"[him is from the ESPN Website and refers to Ashe]
Is Jenner doing this? Yes. She is using her fame and stature to advocate for improvement in trans right, something that is still controversial in the United States and unpopular in many regions of the country.
Thank you, CatM.
Let's talk about "bravery" for a minute. It IS brave to stand up in the face of society and say "NO, I am living as myself," because I've done it, and I do it every day. It takes bravery to wear what you want when you look less than perfect. It takes bravery to jab yourself in the ass once a week to feel normal. Or take pills every day, rub yourself with creams no one else can touch - for the rest of your life. To risk losing your family and friends. To be harassed by them for trying to live your own life. Risking never getting another family hug or kind word - because you never know how someone will react - and love does not conquer all.
It takes bravery to scrimp and save for surgeries, to fight red tape and gatekeepers to have basic ID to get jobs and housing - that you may not be able to keep if you are outed. To risk being attacked in public and private. To decide where to pee and when because your life may be at stake. To be accused as a class of deception and ill intent. Enlisting doesn't require that level of bravery - I've tried both.
2 - 3. Having money is not a crime. Bring a celebrity is not a crime. Holding different political views is not a crime. Not being beaten, raped or "suffering as much" as someone else is NOT A CRIME.
She has suffered. Sure it was a nicer class of suffering, but it still scars her and kept her from being true to herself for 65 years. So don't tell me she's not real enough to be down with you - that's jealousy talking.
Every one of us has our own unique journey. With triumphs and lows and good and bad. If we start arguing amongst ourselves who is "real" and who is fake - we have nothing.
4. Biology is not destiny - but I know I'm preaching to the choir here for the most part on that one.
I got lucky. While my parents definitely gatekept on certain activities as male only, I did have a lot of freedom. I wore pants. I had short hair. I had bikes and could go where I wanted on the base. I got to be in both scout programmes over the years. And in high school, I got to play sports as a boy at away games. And when I needed to come home - they were there for me. But it took 20 years to get to that place.
The time in scouts and those away games in the "other uniform" that the boys coach carried for me - those kept me alive. Adults and peers conspired with me to let me be who I was for a little while during a vital time in my life. And one of the things that Caitlyn addressed was the power of athletics - and how trans kids shouldn't be kept away from participating.
That makes her my heroine. She is using her privilege to speak for little Mort, who loved the feel of his uniform on his bare chest. She is speaking to the coach, to my peers who helped me - telling them they did right to let me play. She is speaking to me - telling me I was right to play my heart out and enjoy sports. Her voice has power, and I'm glad it's being heard.
5:13 PM PT: Added link to the requirements for the Arthur Ashe Award