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I served in the US Navy from 2002-08; four of those years were as a Nuclear Propulsion Operator aboard an aircraft carrier. I engage in political activism in various Democratic circles when I am able to. I have a cat, and I am an uncle.

All opinions that I express are my own and do not reflect the views of any organization that I represent.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

HERO WORSHIP



I mentioned in my restart post several stories that I missed during my hiatus. This is one of those stories.

April featured an interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer where former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner revealed she is transgender and at the beginning of June took to Twitter to reveal her new name: Caitlyn.

I made one mistake during that post.

The Vanity Fair cover featuring Caitlyn Jenner was for JULY.

I do my best to offer my opinions on what is going on, but most importantly, reinforce those opinions with facts.




During ESPN's annual awards show, the ESPYs, Ms. Jenner will be honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. The award is named after tennis player Arthur Ashe who won the US Open in 1968, Australian Open in 1970, and  Wimbledon in 1975. Throughout his 10 year professional career in the 1970s, Ashe played in the tennis circuit and other high profile tournaments.


Outside of the sports arena, Ashe protested the apartheid government of South Africa due to not allowing him to play in that country. After 4 years and wanting to rejoin the international sports community, South Africa granted Ashe a visa to play in that country in 1973. Ashe was part of a 31-member delegation of African-Americans who went to South Africa to observe the country's move towards integration, and he was arrested protesting outside the South African embassy in January 1985.

In 1988, Ashe published a three-volume book, A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete. The book took 6 years to complete and Ashe called the book more important than any of the tennis titles he ever won.

In July 1979, Ashe suffered a heart attack that required a quadruple bypass and became a spokesperson for heart health awareness given his own health and his family's history.

After a second heart related surgery in 1983, Ashe contracted HIV-AIDS through a tainted blood transfusion and acknowledged his status publicly in April 1992. He spent the remaining months of his life combating the stigma associated with the disease and advocating for better education on how the disease is contracted. He passed away due to AIDS complications in February 1993. President Bill Clinton honored Ashe posthumously with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in June 1993.

After years of airing on ESPN, the ESPYs awards ceremony will be televised for the first time on the ABC television network tonight.

The first to receive this award was former North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano followed by his passionate speech about how cancer may take his body but won't take his mind.


Apparently Ms. Jenner receiving this award has stirred up some controversy.

And I will wade into it the best I can.

First, there was this meme that was circulating on the internet that Jenner beat out Army SGT Noah Galloway, an Iraq War Veteran who lost his left arm below the elbow and left leg below the knee. After his military career ended due to the injuries sustained, Galloway became a personal trainer, participated in 5K and 10K races, and became a motivational speaker. He participated in the ABC television program Dancing With The Stars where he finished in third place.

Snopes, as well as the Washington Post, have debunked the notion that Ms. Jenner was picked ahead of SGT Galloway or that ESPN had a competition for the award.

Second, NBC sports broadcaster Bob Costas offered his opinion on The Dan Patrick Radio Show stating:

“It strikes me that awarding the Arthur Ashe Award to Caitlyn Jenner is just a crass exploitation play – it’s a tabloid play. In the broad world of sports, I’m pretty sure they could’ve found someone – and this is not anything against Caitlyn Jenner – who was much closer actively involved in sports, who would’ve been deserving of what that award represents. That’s not to say it doesn’t take some measure of personal courage to do what Caitlyn Jenner has done.”

Costas' remarks of "crass exploitation play" and "tabloid play" is in reference to Jenner's involvement with the cable reality program Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and the Kardashian family are a source for the tabloids. I highly doubt that Jenner would subject herself to intense psychological therapy, various hormone treatments, and surgeries just for the purpose of ratings.

And if Costas bothered to watch the Diane Sawyer interview, 1) he might have learned something, and 2) Jenner's family is very supportive including step-daughter Kim Kardashian's husband, musician Kanye West.

Right now transgender issues are receiving more attention in part due to the long, hard fought battle for marriage equality was recently declared over with the Obergefell decision last month, and the LGBT community began to shift their focus on other issues as well as transgender persons are becoming more visible in various spheres of influence.


Laverne Cox has played small roles on television before appearing in the Netflix series Orange Is The New Black and had her picture taken with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the 2015 White House Correspondents' Dinner.


Janet Mock has an online show on MSNBC's website, was a contributor to People magazine, and was interviewed on The Colbert Report in February 2014. Ms. Mock and Ms. Cox also started the Twitter handle #GirlsLikeUs to connect with other transgender women on social media.

PBS Frontline aired the documentary Growing Up Trans to highlight the issues transgender children face. Recently the Pentagon announced they would study lifting the ban on transgender persons serving openly in the US military.

But the title of this rant was "Hero Worship" and here is the point I am eventually making.

I read the comic Terminal Lance from time to time and even though it is from the perspective of a Marine infantryman who had been deployed to Iraq twice, it does relate some to other branches. He calls Marines who weren't infantry POGs (person other than grunts). Surface Navy Nukes refer to anyone outside of Reactor Department as topsiders, generally fucking topsiders. Submariner Nukes have their own language too and I am sure other branches have their way of describing persons who are not in their job field.

The one posted in relation to the Jenner story was in response to the comic's creator seeing meme's turning the news of Jenner receiving the award into a veteran issue, which it is not. He calls them "Angry Facebook Veterans." The comic shows "Angry Facebook Veteran" putting on lipstick, having undergone breast augmentation surgery, and requests to be called Tina.

Another person points out that veterans are honored with parades, holidays, VIP ceremonies, and other events, and that honoring one person, who has no direct impact on your life, does nothing to diminish those accomplishments of your service.

The creator in the written portion of the comic explains his reasons why he addressed the so-called controversy.

He has a transgender brother.

The comic and full commentary is provided at this link, but I think these last lines drives the point home to those that are upset that Jenner will receive some recognition for publicly announcing her gender transition over someone who is equally deserving of recognition for the challenge of recovering from war injuries.

Caitlyn Jenner is not my hero, but to thousands of transgender people out there, she just might be.

…And that’s okay.

Jenner's award does not diminish the accomplishments of my service.


And neither does it diminish the accomplishments of Army SPC Danielle Green who is also receiving an award at the ESPYs as well.

SGT Galloway is a hero. And so is SPC Green. And so is Ms. Jenner.

And that's OK.


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