Caitlyn Jenner did something incredible this week when she proudly declared "Call me Caitlyn" on the cover of Vanity Fair. The historic moment garnered praise from across the world and ESPN announced shortly after that it will honor the Olympian with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs this summer.
"In the past few months, the overwhelming outpouring of support from all over the world for my journey has been incredible," Jenner told ESPN. "However, being honored with this award, which is named after one of my heroes, is truly special. For the first time this July, I will be able to stand as my true self in front of my peers."
Sadly, the announcement sparked a controversy regarding whether Jenner deserves the award. Specifically, an incorrect rumor began circulating on social media that ESPN passed over Noah Galloway, a double amputee veteran who became a distance runner and Dancing with the Stars contestant, in favor of Jenner. (There are no runners-up or other nominees for the Arthur Ashe Courage Award since it is not a competitive award.) There have also been some outcries that Lauren Hill, the late teenage basketball player who raised $1.5 million to fight cancer before passing away in April, should have gotten the honor.
The basis of all the arguments against Jenner rests on the complainants' definitions of courage and hero, which many reserve only for military service members such as Galloway. However, courage and heroism are not limited to one group of people and acknowledging the courage of one individual does not negate the courage of another.
"The Arthur Ashe Courage Award is meant to honor individuals whose contributions transcend sports through courageous action. Sometimes that courage is demonstrated over the course of a lifetime and sometimes it is demonstrated in a single act that shines a light on an important contemporary issue," ESPN said in a statement in response to the controversy. "At all times, there are many worthy candidates. This year, we are proud to honor Caitlyn Jenner embracing her identity and doing so in a public way to help move forward a constructive dialogue about progress and acceptance."
Unfortunately, the outcry against Jenner's ESPY award is only the beginning of the backlash to her coming out publicly as a transgender woman. On Monday, 4chan, aka Internet troll central, posted about creating a petition tor revoke Jenner's Olympic gold medal in the 1976 decathlon as part of "a new hoax to f--- with feminists and trannies." "Let's write a petition demanding that Jenner stay true to the transgender cause and vacate her wins in the Olympics due to competing as the wrong gender," the anonymous user wrote.
The Change.org petition — which is inaccurate on many points, including saying that women compete in the decathlon (they don't; they compete in the heptathlon) — asking Jenner to #givebackthegold has garnered nearly 14,000 signatures so far. But the International Olympic Committee isn't listening.
"Bruce Jenner won his gold medal in the 1976 Olympic Games and there is no issue for the IOC," IOC Communications Director Mark Adams told Yahoo.