“She’s not a hero. This is what a real hero looks like.”


I’ve seen a lot of this online. “This is what a real hero looks like.” People have called Caitlyn Jenner brave and heroic for so publicly identifying as trans and others have countered with photos of wounded and maimed members of the armed forces to trivialize these claims.

I can understand the impulse, which likely comes from a place or respect for active duty soldiers and veterans and a hope to elevate recognition for them. My father received a purple heart; he was brave and heroic in the context of his duty. The comparison, though, discounts the struggle faced by many in the trans community who literally put their lives and security on the line simply by being themselves. This is especially the case for those who, unlike Jenner, are not afforded the armor of a combination of wealth, fame, and white skin and face increased hardship as a result. And acknowledging that bravery and heroism comes in many forms does not take away from the fact that as a solider, my father put his life on the line for a few years and saw some crazy shit along the way.

Anyone who is able to be themselves in the face of the daily tsunami of judgment is a hero as far as I am concerned, particularly in a world that literally tries to kill anyone/anything that dares to be different. People who fight to be themselves in a world that fights this impulse every step of the way are truly heroic.

Alex Steed

About Alex Steed

Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was an insufferable teenager. He has run for the Statehouse and produced a successful web series. He now runs a content firm called Knack Factory with two guys who are a lot more talented than himself.