It is relevant today because I have gotten into some pretty heated arguments about bravery; of particular note, against those who profess the belief that Caitlyn Jenner is not brave for transitioning. I called bullshit. She is brave. She is so brave.
Let me tell you something, courage does not always roar like a lion. It is not loud and obnoxious. It is not seeking attention or praise. Often, because courage can be so very quiet, it is unrecognised and so some people claim that it isn't present.
Yes, courage is heading to war to fight for your country. But that is not the only act that is courageous.
Courage is waking up in the morning and getting out of bed, despite crippling anxiety or depression.
Courage is walking down the street to buy milk in a country hostile to your truth.
When people compare Caitlyn Jenner to a soldier returned from battle and claim she is not brave, I have serious issues with it. Soldiers return home to a heroes welcome (though not treatment, can we please, for the love of all things good and green in this world, start investing more in mental health and make sure these returning service personnel don't end up on the streets destitute and starving?). LGBTQ+ youth at home face a battle. At home. Which should be safe.
For them, it's a battlefield.
Let's lay down some truths.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst youths aged 10 - 24.*
LGBTQ+ youths are four time more likely to attempt suicide than their cis-normative peers.*
Half of transgender youths have seriously contemplated suicide and one quarter of these youths have made at least one attempt.*
Black and Hispanic youth attempt suicide roughly twice a much as white youths.*
Each incident of victimisation (verbal or physical abuse) increases the risk of self-harming in LGBTQ+ youth by a factor of 2.5.*
The unfortunate truth is that LGBTQ folk receive a shit tonne of verbal and physical attacks every single day.
Here is a brief history in the United States alone.
In 2012, 2 016 incidents of violence against LGBTQ people were reported, a number that remained unchanged from the previous year.**
In the 15 month period between January 2013 and March 2014. 594 LGBTQ people were murdered. 176 suffered serious but non-lethal attacks because of their gender identity/expression or sexual orientation.***
Transgender women, gay men and people of colour face the greatest threat of violence.**
These attacks are for no good reason whatsoever. They were attacked, in their own country, merely for daring live their own truths. When faced with the threat of violence every single day, and still going out and trying to live their lives as themselves, how can we not consider it courageous?
When they are routinely discriminated against, verbally and physically assaulted, and treated as sub-human, merely getting up each morning is an act of extraordinary courage.
People like Laverne Cox, and now Caitlyn Jenner, who stand up so that trans youth can see someone like them, standing up for people like them, being tall and strong, shining their light and living their truths successfully, knowing full well the consequences they may face, how can any of us deny their courage?
Soldiers go to war. They train for it. For a long time. They are brave.
LGBTQ people are at war, whether they wish to be or not, an no one has trained them. But they walk on, courageously facing the firing squad and refusing to deny their truths. Fuck you if you don't think that's brave.