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Jun 07 2015
HEROES Comments (0)

Learn from those who have walked the path before you. #TransIsBeautiful #LivingOurTruth #JustTheBeginning

A photo posted by Caitlyn Jenner (@caitlynjenner) on Jun 6, 2015 at 3:30pm PDT

Mark Stevens, a Facebook friend, contributes the following essay on heroes ...

By Mark Stevens: Originally I was not going to respond to the posts I have seen about Caitlyn Jenner that argue that the hero status is being applied incorrectly. After a few of the posts I have seen, however, I just feel that I have something to add.

What is a hero? Is it someone who puts themselves in physical danger for another person? Is it someone who sets out to complete a mission and gives their all to do so? Is it someone who is glorified for selflessness? Is it someone who dresses up in tights and runs around fighting crime? Are heroes necessarily real people? Are sports figures heroes? Politicians? 

For some individuals each of these apply. The thing that binds all of these figures together is a single concept: Hope.

A hero is not self proclaimed. A hero is rarely aware that they are a hero while they are doing whatever it is that has inspired others. A hero is sometimes not recognized at the time of their heroic acts. Sometimes they are not recognized until history makes them one, and often they do not realize it or even sometimes believe it to be true themselves. 

Often one mans hero is another mans villain. In war, while each side believes that they are correct and hails their own heroes, the 'enemy' would call those people criminals... and both sides are correct.

Several years ago I wrote a series of articles proclaiming various people heroes of the LGBT community. My first two choices made people question my sanity, but I still say that they are good choices, not because they were popular and hailed, but because the affect they had on society was far reaching and gave hope to many despite the fact that this was the opposite of their intentions at the time that they did their heroic deed.

The first I chose as an "LGBT Hero of the Month" was Anita Bryant. I chose her because she gave the LGBT community a rallying point around which to galvanize action and brought more attention to our plight than any other figure of her time. Would she have thought this of herself? No. Would she have WANTED this for herself? NO! But, nonetheless, her actions caused a revolution in thinking that brought the LGBT community to the place it is today.

Let us consider a 'hero' who was actually surprised by her status when it happened. Rosa Parks got on a bus, sat down, and became a national hero. Without so much as pointing a weapon, saving another persons life, or for that matter doing anything. She herself many years later said that she did not set out to get any notice, she simply had tired feet and wanted to sit down. But she became the rallying point for a movement that has recognized her as a hero for some time now.

I bring up these two cases for a variety of reasons. First is the fact that they were unwittingly playing their part.Their impact was not what they planned. They did not do what they did to make the point that was made by their actions, they simply were seen by many as a rallying point that made a difference by inspiring hope, either through their direct action or through inspiring others to take action. Second, they did not set out to be heroes to the people whom they inspired, they simply were so by virtue of being who they were and being true to their own beliefs. Lastly, they do not fit the 'heroic mold' in anyone's mind. They were not what someone out looking for a hero would be searching for.

SO now to my point.

Caitlyn, nee Bruce, Jenner, did not set out to be anyone's hero in doing what she has done. That does not matter. he did not do what she did for anyone other than herself. She made her outside match what she felt within. One of my friends asked if self-mutilation made her a hero, to which I now reply that, by definition, mutilation is a disfigurement and does not apply in any case where a person is correcting a physical problem that makes them feel that they are not being true to who they are. 

This applies for ANY modification that changes outward appearance to match the inner vision of who they are. I have a friend here on Facebook who is altering 'himself' to match their inner vision by first changing his gender and then by doing extreme body modification to make herself 'draconic' because that is the image that she has of her inner self. Would I do that? Hell no! I like who I am, but she has taken the extreme steps necessary to correct her physicality so that others can recognize that which she perceives within herself. And the results are indeed extreme! For others the change may be as simple as dieting to conform to a body image involving weight, going to the gym to tone up a physique, or even just wearing makeup that changes the contours of a face. Even plastic surgery such as breast reduction or facelifts or pigmentation change are the same thing, a person striving to be more like their internal picture of themselves.

Does that make these people heroes? Not to me and probably not to most of you. But there is someone out there somewhere who is struggling with their image and possibly with others making life miserable for them for their self image, to whom these are heroes of a sort. There are also many who will not ever be able to understand why anyone would look up to these people. For those with this view I say 'Congratulations'!

Congratulations for being born into a body that matches your self image, or for being able to accept what and who you are.
Congratulations for not needing to defend yourself against the judgement of others who cannot accept who you are.
Congratulations for being so blessed, by no fault or virtue of your own, to be acceptable to those around you.

But there are many of us who do not have those luxuries. We struggle with being different than the societal norm. We struggle with self hate, and with the hatred of others, also through no fault or virtue of our own. We struggle with not being who we think we should be. And are we wrong to seek to correct that? Careful how you answer, because I am willing to bet that many of you are not entirely who you appear to be, either.

So now we go back to the original topic and ask: Is Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner a Hero?

Yes. Undeniably and unequivocally. To many she is the image of a person who many had already labeled as a hero in her days as a male sports figure. To others she is a shining example of striving to become what you see yourself as being. And to others she is a person stepping out and, against all expectations of the society she lives in, saying 'This is who I am and now I will proudly reveal my inner self to you.' And if one person takes this to heart and stops allowing others to judge them for what society thinks they should be, if one young boy or girl decides not to take their own life for being different, if a single person begins to view another human being more favorably because of this mans COURAGEOUS stand against the expectations of a society in turmoil, then she is indeed a hero.