The definition of courage

Junior explains the bravery of transgender individuals


Graphic by Brianna O’Shaughnessy

Story by Cailey Roberson , staff writer

If you’ve been on any form of social media at all in the past few months, you’ve probably seen tweets or posts going around concerning Caitlyn Jenner’s transgender transformation, or rather, invalidating her courage in doing so.

Usually, these hateful tweets mention the true bravery of our troops, or the valid courage of children with terminal illnesses, while totally disregarding Jenner’s bravery. Contrary to these beliefs, Caitlyn Jenner is just as brave as all of the provided examples.

Beg to differ?

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word, “courage” is defined as “the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous.” Being in the military is dangerous. Having a terminal illness is dangerous. Being transgender is dangerous.

According to the Youth Suicide Prevention Program, a staggering 50 percent of transgender people (individuals who do not identify with the gender they were assigned to at birth) will attempt suicide at least once by their 20th birthday. This statistic is substantially higher than the attempted suicide rates for non-transgender youth. Also, according to, 81.9 percent of LGBTQ youth are victims of bullying, while only 22 percent of their straight peers are bullied. Transgender individuals also face discrimination in employment, housing, and public places. To face a combination of these trials on a daily basis and still have the ability to claim a unique identity is beyond difficult.

Being transgender is as difficult as it is courageous. You can’t bend a word’s definition around just because you don’t understand it.

Even something as small as standing up for what you believe in is brave. Think about it; Atticus Finch from “To Kill a Mockingbird”  believed that Tom Robinson was not guilty even though the majority of the people thought otherwise. Because “To Kill a Mockingbirdtook place in a racist-by-tradition town, representing Robinson as his lawyer made Finch brave.

Living in a generally transphobic, ignorant world makes Jenner courageous. Just like Finch, Jenner is ridiculed and insulted every day, but she continues being herself despite what people say or think.

If you ask me, that’s pretty brave.

Maybe next time you think you get to make the decision of whether someone is brave or not, actually think about it. You may be able to change the connotation of a word, but you can’t change the denotation.