The Oxford Eagle
Connected on almost every form of social media, I am, like most everyone, constantly bombarded by headlines of the world’s latest news. With the attacks on Paris, fight against racial injustice at the University of Missouri, and day-to-day stories that report on various struggles of humanity, scrolling through my newsfeeds have become a source of sadness.
Lying in bed this morning, phone in hand, I checked social media for the latest news stories. Stumbling across the story of Glamour magazine awarding Caitlyn Jenner as one of their “Women of the Year,” I was not just sad, I was angry.
While I have supported Caitlyn Jenner’s decision to transition since her initial coming out, I couldn’t support this.
I believe that transgender people are immensely courageous; they’re fighting for their true identity in a society that can be frighteningly unaccepting. I believe that Caitlyn Jenner has positively used her own experience to bring awareness to the struggle that many transgender people face on a daily basis. Finally, I believe that Caitlyn Jenner has been an incredible role model and inspiration to many.
What I don’t believe is that Caitlyn Jenner should be awarded the same honor previously given to a national hero, a woman that selflessly gave her own life to save more than 100 others during the unspeakable tragedy of 9/11.
The only female NYPD police officer that died that day, Moira Smith, more than deserved the title of “Woman of the Year.” She gave up her life, her aspirations, her future, so that more than 100 other lives could continue to live.
I was in first grade when the attacks occurred. I lived in a Chicago suburb. I was nowhere near the danger that so many were exposed to, and I will never know what it was like to lose someone on that horrific day.
James Smith, the widow of Moira Smith, knows what it feels like to lose someone on that day. Accepting Glamour magazine’s award on her behalf back in 2001, I can only imagine how precious the honor was to Smith and the memory of his late wife.
While Moira Smith was someone who gave her very life for the lives of over 100 other people that day, Caitlyn Jenner has never made that kind of sacrifice.
While Caitlyn Jenner has been instrumental in using her status to bring about change for the transgender community, she lives a life that is so different from the very people she represents.
According to talkpoverty.org, transgender people are four times more likely to earn under $10,000 annually. Caitlyn Jenner, on the other hand, boasts an estimated net worth of $100 million. That is 10,000 times the amount a transgender person is likely to bring in each year.
Caitlyn Jenner sacrificed, but she sacrificed selfishly. This transition was in her best interest, not the best interests of those around her. At the expense of her marriage, without thinking of how this may affect her children, Caitlyn Jenner risked the relationships most precious to her for her own benefit.
I am not discrediting the work Caitlyn Jenner is doing for the transgender community. What I am discrediting, though, is the honor of an award that puts a 9/11 hero in the same category as a wealthy transgender celebrity.
James Smith, angered by the magazine’s choice to award Jenner, sent the award he accepted 14 years prior back to Glamour.
Not only did Smith lose his wife to an unthinkable, reprehensible tragedy, he lost the idea that his wife had earned a prestigious and honorable award for her bravery and heroism.
While Glamour may have had the good intention of shedding light on the issues transgender people face, they should have done their homework.
Considering Jenner has been quoted as saying “the hardest part about being a woman is figuring out what to wear” in a recent BuzzFeed article, Glamour has failed to choose a candidate that truly understands the female experience in today’s society.
However, Moira Smith understood that experience. She was a female police officer; the only one out of 23 others to die heroically on 9/11. She overcame societal stereotypes, became a police officer, and proved women are just as capable of men to be superheroes.
Moira Smith faced a real challenge; saving innocent human beings from a collapsing building that ultimately cost her life. Caitlyn Jenner’s biggest problem as a woman? Figuring out what to wear.
I support the transgender community, I support Caitlyn Jenner’s decision to transition, and I support the idea that she is an inspiration to others.
I do not support Glamour’s decision to name her as one of their “Women of the Year,” the same award given to a fallen police officer who gave her life on the most horrific day in our nation’s history.