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Silber: Calling her courageous

BY KELIN SILBER | JULY 23, 2015 5:00 AM

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Every year, ESPN throws an award show for athletes, the group who needs that sort of celebration for their talents the least, known as the ESPYS. Generally overlooked and absolutely unnecessary, this award show seldom generates any sort of argument. However, this year was different.

Transgendered woman and former athlete Caitlyn Jenner was awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award by the producers of the ESPYS. This caused a massive uproar among people who cannot seem to understand and rationalize why “simply” changing gender is considered courageous.

The most common argument I saw across social media fallaciously compared Jenner and soldiers, citing what “real courage” is.

First of all, there is absolutely no need to associate the two. Just because someone says something is courageous doesn’t mean something else isn’t; it just means that it takes a different type of bravery. Solders are no less valorous because some has called Jenner brave.

Also, it really wouldn’t make sense to give an ESPY to every soldier, because it is an award for athletes. The two are so unrelated that all of this appears a bigoted reason to cry about something that is hard for some to rationalize.

However, to say that Jenner didn’t need fortitude to undertake this endeavor ignores the truth. Pretty much since the instant she came out, she has received ridicule and been belittled for her decision. Transphobic comments surrounded her decision with the attempt to demean her. Critics fail to recognize the courage it takes to be condemned by so many for a transgendered woman who only wanted to be herself.

However, she can handle them, which is important, because she is the trailblazer for transgender affairs. Jenner is the first huge public figure to do this, particularly in the hyper-masculine world of sports.

Ignoring the whole social-media charade that surrounds her and just looking at the statistics that surround transgender women show how unprotected and at risk transgender people are.

The Office for Victims of Crime states that “one in two transgender individuals are sexual assaulted at some point in their lives.” Half of all transgender people. And some speculate that the number could be as high as 66 percent. 

Additionally, 17 percent of all hate crimes are committed against an estimated 0.03 percent of the American population. Even so, the exact number of transgender people in America is questioned because there is very little research on the subject matter.

CNN has reported 41 percent of people who identify as transgender have attempted suicide. This is a massive jump from the 1.6 percent of the standard population.

These are all absurd and unrecognized statistics. The saddest part about this is that it all happens for just wanting to express one’s true self; to say that this is not courageous overlooks everything and is an insult to courage.

In her acceptance speech, Jenner talked specifically about the dangers that encompass transgender people. Hopefully, she can bring awareness to a group that so greatly needs it.


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