Courage

  • Jun. 6th, 2015 at 2:36 PM
jic: Tara from Buffy: "I'm not in the mood for this" (not mood)
I've seen a couple variations of the "courage" meme contrasting soldiers in battle with Caitlyn Jenner.

To start, I do respect the people, mostly men and women, who risk their lives to carry out their orders. I acknowledge that many of them are doing so because they have an abundance of passionate respect for their country, and I don't want to belittle that. When they face down their own fear in order to do what is needed to protect their fellows and their charges, that is indeed courage.

But

When transgender advocates work every day with persons who have lost homes, lost jobs, or lost relationships, or who gave up health care due to lack of supportive practitioners --
When discrimination and transphobia are shrugged off because trans-folk are so marginalized their identity doesn't even end up as a demographic in the BJS violence statistics (and if there are no statistics, there's no problem, right?) --
When I've sat with friends and colleagues and listened to them misgender Caitlyn and declare to me with unassailable certainty that Caitlyn is still a man --
When I've been with family whose first reaction to conversation drifting to transgender persons was "I knew one of those!" --
When I've sat across a table and had someone tell me to my face that my own assessment of my gender identity is insignificant in the face of her opinion --

Well

It's easy to be flippant about the real meaning of courage when you've never been afraid your friends will stop talking to you if you reveal your authentic self.
It's easy to be dismissive about other forms of courage when you've never been afraid your family will abandon or reject you if you reveal your authentic self.
It's easy to be glib when you can look at the collection of persons in the public eye and see more than one (out of hundreds) who represents the part of your authentic self that you most fear society rejecting.

If you have had those fears, and overcome them, but don't believe that took courage? Give yourself a little more credit.

It's easy to get defensive and slap a pithy comment on a heart-wrenching picture and use it to minimize someone else's experience, but no one is saying military personnel don't have courage. Courage is not a zero sum game where there's only so much to go around. And if you think I don't have to overcome fear every time I reveal to another person that the me above the neck and the body below the neck don't match, well...

Then maybe you need to walk a mile in my shoes.
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