Caitlyn Jenner: An Act of Bravery

When I first saw Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover, I didn’t recognize her; and then I found out she was formerly Bruce Jenner. 65 years old and she is finally comfortable enough to reveal herself to the world. I was, and am, ecstatic for her, and for the other members of the transgender community. Caitlyn proves that it is never too late to love who you truly are, and to show the world that you love that person too.

Personally, I cannot imagine what she must have gone through. I was born female, and have always identified as a female. I can only imagine the years of torture and pain that Caitlyn must have felt while hiding herself. After all, our society was much crueller to individuals like Caitlyn ten, twenty years ago than it is today. As a society, we have begun to grow and accept others, and it is a beautiful feeling; but we still have a long way to go.

Despite the mass support of Caitlyn and the transgender community, there are still those who reject Caitlyn, and the many other members of the transgender community, for many different reasons – but much of this reject is based on religion.

While the debate of religion and human rights is a different matter that I won’t get into a rant about right now, what I find frustrating is when people reject Caitlyn’s bravery.

Yes, she may be a Jenner, and yes, she is a public figure, but that doesn’t make her any less brave. In many ways, because of her stature as a public figure, Jenner has had to fight the battle of being true to herself versus being true to her public image; and for many people, that public image was and is Bruce Jenner, Olympic gold medal winner.

What people forget, though, is that by becoming Caitlyn, Jenner isn’t giving up her title of Olympic gold medal winner. What people can’t let go of is Bruce; but the truth is, Bruce was never truly “Bruce”. Bruce has known for a very long time that she is Caitlyn, it’s just taken her this long to have the BRAVERY to reveal herself.

So if you still don’t understand why Caitlyn’s transition is a depiction of bravery, here is more thorough explanation.

In 2013 the NCAVP (National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs) did a report on Hate Crimes involving LGBTQ and HIV-affected individuals. It was found that although reports of hate violence against these groups seemed to decrease slightly between 2012 – 2013 (.74%), member organizations of NCAVP, that also reported data between 2012-2013, found that the number of incidents actually increased – by 3%. It was also found that in 2013, the severity of these hate crimes increased, especially crimes involving physical and sexual violence.

Meanwhile, it was found that the homicide rate of LGBTQ members and HIV-affected individuals did decrease; but even with the decrease, 2013 still saw the highest number of homicides recorded by the NCAVP.  Severe acts of violence against people of color, transgender, and gender non-conforming LGBTQ and HIV-affected people in 2013 was found to be alarmingly high. 72% of these homicide victims were transgender women, 67% of victims were transgender women of color, and 28% of victims were gay men.

Specifically, transgender women survivors were 4 times more likely to experience police violence, 2 times more likely to experience discrimination, 1.8 times more likely to experience harassment, 1.5 times more likely to experience threats and intimidation, and 1.8 times more likely to experience sexual violence.

Transgender men were 1.6 times more likely to experience police violence, 1.5 times more likely to receive injuries from hate violence, and 4.3 times more likely to be a target of hate violence in shelters.

Transgender survivors in general were 3.7 times more likely to experience police violence, 1.8 times more likely to experience discrimination compared to cisgender survivors and victims, 1.4 times more likely to experience threats and intimidation, 1.5 times more likely to experience harassment, and 1.7 times more likely to experience sexual violence.

If you would like to read more about the report, here is the link: http://www.avp.org/storage/documents/2013_ncavp_hvreport_final.pdf

And yes, this is the most up to date information I could find. This brings us to a large problem afflicting our country: the lack of statistics on transgender individuals is extremely low; and because of this lack of data, policies protecting these individuals from discrimination are basically non-existent. Data collection is KEY to fixing these problems regarding a lack of education, acceptance, and policy pertaining to transgender individuals.

More recently, the William Institute did a study in January 2014 on “Suicide Attempts Among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults”. This survey is the result of 6,456 transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in the United States reporting on their experiences of discrimination and abuse at work, at home, in school, and in the public.

It was found that 78 percent of survey respondents who suffered physical or sexual violence at school reported suicide attempts. 65 percent of respondents who experienced violence at work also reported suicide attempts.

An elevated prevalence of these attempts were caused by the following triggers:

  • 57% – Family decided to no longer speak/spend time with them
  • 50-54% – Harassed/Bullied at school
  • 50-59% – Were harassed or experienced discrimination at work
  • 60% – Doctor or health care provider refused to treat them
  • 64-45% – Experienced physical or sexual violence at work
  • 63-78% – Experienced physical or sexual violence at school
  • 57-61% – Were harassed or disrespected by law enforcement officers
  • 60-70% – Suffered physical of sexual violence by law enforcement officers
  • 69% – Experienced Homelessness

If you would like to read over the report yourself, feel free to do so here: http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/AFSP-Williams-Suicide-Report-Final.pdf

Every single on of those triggers were represented by over half of the individuals surveyed. All 6,456 of them.

If you still need a better understanding of the hardships these individuals face on a day-to-day basis, this article written by Danielle Paquette of The Washington Post is a great read: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/01/22/the-state-of-transgender-america-massive-discrimination-little-data/

So what am I getting at by throwing all those statistics and reports at you? Well, basically by saying that Caitlyn Jenner is not brave, you are saying that a minority community such as the trans-community doesn’t face societal hardships, and that change does not need to happen.

Bravery comes in all forms. I’ve seen a lot of people comparing Caitlyn Jenner’s reveal to our military fighting overseas.

This sickens me.

As someone who is very supportive of our military and our officers domestically and abroad, it truly saddens me that people are comparing one act of bravery to another.

No one is saying that those serving our country overseas is any less brave than what Caitlyn Jenner stands for. Those serving overseas represent one act of bravery, while Caitlyn, and the many other openly trans individuals, represent another.

WE SHOULD CELEBRATE BRAVERY. And all I see are people bashing a strong, powerful, beautiful stance on loving yourself.

As a society, we must move forward; and to do so we must accept what is different from what we have known. Times are changing, and you are either with the times, or you’re not.

To become a healthy, compatible society, we must accept love for love. There is no harm in love. For Caitlyn to make a stance is doing nothing more than showing the world that it is never too late to love yourself. And by doing so, she is braver than many of us will ever be.

If you have any specific questions, disagreements, or fact problems with my article, feel free to message me privately.

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