In 1976, Bruce Jenner was known as the greatest athlete in the world after winning the decathlon at the Olympics in Montreal. In 2015, Bruce is now Caitlyn and she is now widely considered to be the most famous transgender person in the world.
At 65 years of age, the decision to give her the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the recent ESPY Awards was criticized by some. How is she relevent in sports now? Is this a publicity stunt? I can understand the criticism, but I just don’t agree. We are a social media and look at me world now, filled with selfies. Why give this to Jenner? She has the money to go through this change and how is she showing any courage when she has the support of all of her loved ones around her?
Last Wednesday night was a monumental night for sports and our society. People should have the ability to be happy, and finally Caitlyn has made that decision to be who she really is. And for that courageous step, she deserves the award. For other transgenders who don’t have a voice and feel all alone, they now have that voice and that face. That is important. Sure, there are others that could have received this prestigious award. There is no question about it. But the timing was right for Jenner.
There are many others in our country who live with the day-in, day-out pain of not being able to be who they really are. I can’t possibly imagine going through that every day of my life. But I am not naïve to think that this does not happen. As you criticize Jenner, think of each and every one of them. The faceless and the nameless around this great country who now have an individual to look to for strength. Wednesday night was more about them then it was about Jenner.
One of the critics, Frank DeFord, told the Los Angeles Times that, “Courage is usually involved with overcoming something.” Jenner certainly has. Yes, she has money and name recognition and the reality shows to fall back on. She has a supportive family. She is in a good position to finally do something she has yearned to do her entire life. She now overcomes the criticism and she has the strength to handle it as she told us Wednesday night. Bob Costas told the Dan Patrick Show that he believes it was "just a crass exploitation – a tabloid play.”
But the word "courage" is defined as the ability to do something that frightens one or strength in the face of pain or grief. There is no doubt that Jenner has dealt with pain or grief the majority of her life and now feels strong enough to be who she really is. To say that this is a crass exploitation shows just how courageous Jenner really is.
Explain to me the exploitation? Jenner received this award because it is about change. It is a process of opening our eyes to the new normal in 2015, which is a good thing. There is now marriage equality across this great nation, which is a fantastic step. It is 2015 and the acceptance is still not there. The criticism still is.
Wednesday night was a huge night for sports and our society. Caitlyn lived so many days with the pain and sadness of not being her true self. She showed courage in finally being true to herself. So good for her. She showed courage in the decision she made, and will every day from this day forward.