This morning as I settled with my coffee mug and started to read, the thought of the recent media attention on Caitlyn Jenner floated across my mind. I decided to snag it and see where it took me.

Heroes. Looking out for a hero. Much of the Caitlyn attention focused on a photo published by Terry Coffey, which showed Caitlyn’s photograph aside that of a soldier on a war-torn battlefield. Posts on twitter and FB heralded Caitlyn as a hero and brought forth conversations on the issue of transgender. Many posts remarked it was heroic for her to face being transgender. Other posts, however, marked Caitlyn as an imposter and took offense to having her labeled as such.

What is a hero? After WWII it was clear that those returning from the battlefields were heroes. They were heralded as such and marked with decorations. Those who returned home in caskets were posthumously decorated. But what about those who kept their country alive, so the soldiers would have something for which to return? Were they not heroes?

There are proclamations of teachers as heroes. Nurses. Parents. Activists. More obvious ones, such as firefighters and police. The listing could go on. The common thread being a hero is someone with whom we can relate in regard to our personal life experience. I challenge you that it marks that part of us with which we identify, as we see it as something we wish to emulate. It would then stand to reason, that if we do not identify with being transgender, for instance, we cannot identify with that personal battle and so we refute the person as not being a hero.

Now I see the correlation of my floating thought to what I was reading. It happened to be a story relating the journey of one who was fighting cancer. Having faced a health crisis and still battling it, I see the writer as a hero. The story ends not so much on a happy note, but one of encouragement; bravery and possibility. Isn’t this what we see in all heroes?

I have to admit, I defiantly marked Caitlyn Jenner as a non-hero. Surely, when people are fighting on the battlefield, they are heroes! Caitlyn Jenner, not so much. Today, however, as I reflect on the many different icons we choose to show as heroes, the definition of hero must expand to us all. We are all heroes on our life journey. Some days being a hero is opening our eyes no matter how tired we feel. Perhaps, it is that we have a serious condition, yet we get up and move forward; seeing to fruition, our passion for living.

My only conclusion then is the delineation of being a hero is different to us all and based on what we have experienced. Heroism is what we voice from our experience. It is the courage we exert when faced with a challenge. It’s the message we step forth with that everyone may be liberated. So it is that I can refute Caitlyn Jenner as a hero, as I have no experience with which to identify, but I can regard his action, as an act of heroism. One with which we can all identify in that her experience is of encouragement; bravery and possibility.
Tags: Caitlyn Jenner; Terry Coffey; hero; heroism; cancer