Does Caitlyn Jenner deserve the Arthur Ashe Courage Award?

Kelsey Lentz, Assistant Editor in Chief

Caitlyn Jenner has become a name many have grown to recognize since she was first introduced to the world through a Vanity Fair cover story on June 1st, 2015. Formerly known as Bruce Jenner, Caitlyn has been transitioning into being a woman, or as she would say, being herself, for the past couple of years. Having spent most of her athletic career as well as family life in the public eye, this olympic gold medalist and reality television star’s transition has not developed without some scrutiny.

Many believe her journey into womanhood is sparked by motifs such as fame, publicity, money and attention. Even more doubt is hindered with her acceptance of the Arthur Ashe ESPY award for courage on July 15th. Everyone seems to be questioning her choices and intentions and asking, is what she doing really considered brave?

With interviews, photoshoots, television series and awards will always come controversy. Regardless, what she is doing is brave not to mention inspirational.  Coming out as a woman is hard enough as it is, but to do it in the spotlight is an even more difficult task.

Being a decathalonist and “the world’s greatest athlete” proves she is tough but confessing to not only her family and friends but also the public that she has been living a lie, is what really shows just how tough she actually is.

Caitlyn Jenner has been battling the internal fight of not being fully able to be herself for her entire life, a battle no transgender person, or anyone for that matter, should have to face. And for that, she has earned her ESPY courage award.

Though it is wrong to say the other candidates such as Lauren Hill were not deserving of the award as their bravery is unmeasurable, who are we to define courage? Yes, a majority of the candidates as well as many athletes in America are incredibly courageous, but so is Caitlyn; it is the same courage that both these men and women embody that the award seeks to highlight, but courage can come in many different forms.

Jenner’s courage is not  just a matter of what she did by coming out but what she is doing for the transgender community. She is not being courageous, but giving many young transgender people burdened with not knowing how to be true to themselves, the courage to try.

She is also bringing to light much needed awareness of the unnoted issues transgender people deal with like bullying, suicide, acceptance, and in the worst cases, murder. By accepting this award Caitlyn has also accepted the responsibility that has come with it; she has decided to use her situation to do some good and now promotes as she said in her acceptance speech, “accepting people for who they really are.”

This transition into her new life as a beautiful and empowering woman does not take away from all that she has accomplished in the past; she is still an amazing parent, athlete, and person. In fact, this has given her the opportunity to start over and live the life she wants to live as well as allowed her room to achieve so much more by putting her in a position capable of making change in the transgender community. We can only hope everyone sees that or at least respects what she is doing and who she is becoming, because her courage is likely to be recorded in history books in the making.