What Is Bravery?

When Caitlyn Jenner came into existence, a horde of media and societal reactions came with her. Caitlyn has been called many things, some good and some bad. She's been called brave, strong, and a role model. On the other side of the spectrum, she has unfortunately been called delusional, confused, and mentally ill as well. In-between these two very different opinions lay those who try to discredit her, but still acknowledging her choice. These are people who do not think that she is mentally ill because of her decision, but they do want to take away the brave aspect of what she did.

The moment people started calling Caitlyn brave on the news or Facebook, countless counter-posts and statements were made. Statements like "just to remind everyone, this is what real bravery looks like" with an accompanying picture of either soldiers or children fighting cancer. All of these posts and statements garnered plenty of controversy, and after three days of it, a friend posted on Facebook:

"Caitlyn Jenner is brave.

Our troops are brave.

Children who are fighting cancer are brave.

It's not a f*****g competition- grow up."

I don't think a more accurate statement has been said about this whole situation. There isn't just one form of bravery. The definition of brave, by dictionary.com, is "possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance." Each of these people or groups are all brave in their own ways, and one doesn't take away from another. Our troops are brave in that they have the courage to put their life on the line for our country and each other. Anyone fighting any sort of possibly fatal illness or disease is brave in their ability to have the mental endurance to keep fighting for themselves and their families, regardless of the odds. Finally, Caitlyn is brave because she is courageous enough to challenge social and cultural norms just so she can be whoever she wants to be, and she is willing to deal with the backlash from breaking those norms.

There isn't some finite amount of bravery that exists in the world. Calling Caitlyn brave doesn't take away from the bravery of so many others who fight different battles and issues, either physical or mental. I think getting hung up on the argument of whether or not calling Caitlyn brave is the correct thing to do takes away from the actual statement she is trying to make. Caitlyn isn't this for the compliments or the press, but instead to be whoever she wants to be regardless of what is "normal," and I hope people notice this more than arguing over whether she is brave or mentally ill.