Is Caitlyn Jenner a hero?

jenner

Here’s the reason some otherwise very kind and open-minded people have it wrong about Bruce Jenner. And I only use her former name instead of Caitlyn to be sure they know who I’m writing about. But let’s first find something we agree about: America is a great nation, the land of freedom and opportunity. Now we might diverge when I say it hasn’t always been that way.

We spit on soldiers returning from a nightmare war into which they were drafted.

We turned dogs on people only because of their skin color.

We did not allow women to vote.

We arrested people of the same sex for consummating their love.

The list is pretty long, and there are people like Louis Farrakhan who will happily extend it indefinitely.

So I’ll continue with my four examples, and ask you what we’ve done to correct what most Americans have come to see as grievous wrongs. Recent Presidents have awarded posthumous Medals of Honor to soldiers’ families. We have channeled billions of dollars into education and inner city programs. We passed the 19th Amendment to our Constitution. Laws have been changed and the US Supreme Court has spoken about same-sex marriage.

It took Presidents, the SCOTUS, vast treasure, and changes to our founding document to BEGIN to right some of our country’s historical wrongs.

So what do we do with people whose self-identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender? We’ve beaten the tar out of them in grade school. We pissed on them in the gym shower. We refused to hire them and we failed to protect them from crime. We tried to make them commit suicide, just like we did all the fags and dykes in high school. Often we were more like Adolph Hitler than, well, Adolph Hitler.

But America is a great nation, and the land of the free. We are imperfect, but we keep trying to fix things. America is great because it wants to get things right.

Naming Caitlyn Jenner a HERO is not a slap in the face of our nation’s veterans. Those men and women are still heroes. America is simply trying to fix a wrong. We treated transgender people like “coloreds” and “slant-eyes” and “queers” and “baby killers” since we first discovered they had the audacity to lurk among us. This has been a moment for a bit of hyperbole in order to grab the Adolphs of this great land, shake them hard, and say “knock it off.” You don’t have to marry Caitlyn Jenner, you just need to quit pissing on her, because there are countless more generations of transgendered kids yet to come into this world, and they have one crucial trait that matches everyone else: they are human beings. Caitlyn Jenner is a hero because future generations needed someone as badly as we all needed Rosa Parks not to give up her seat. It’s that simple. Jenner said here I am, and Parks said no I won’t.

This is America. A great nation, the land of freedom and opportunity. We just need some polishing from time to time.

About colealpaugh

Cole Alpaugh's newspaper career began in the early 80s, starting with small daily papers in Maryland and Massachusetts, where his stories won national awards. His most recent job was at a large daily in Central New Jersey, where his "true life" essays included award-winning pieces on a traveling rodeo and an in-depth story on an emergency room doctor that was nominated by Gannett News Service for a 1991 Pulitzer Prize. Cole also contracted with two Manhattan-based news agencies, covering conflicts in Haiti, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Thailand and Cambodia. His work has appeared in dozens of magazines, as well as most newspapers in America. Cole is currently a freelance photographer and novelist living in Northeast Pennsylvania, where he spends afternoons in a virtual running race around the equator, and evenings watching his daughter's magical stage performances. You can find him online at ColeAlpaugh.com.
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1 Response to Is Caitlyn Jenner a hero?

  1. Louella Shenko says:

    Very well said Cole. If only others could open there eyes to how the world really is and what people mean. Times have changed and will change every day here on out. Thank you for the post.

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