Courage, Biology, and Being American

By: Dani LangevinAugust, 2015

Dani Langevin, Lesbian ColumnistThe definition of courage is: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear. I don’t believe that courage comes without fear. Perhaps the definition should be: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., with determination. I also believe that courage comes in many different forms.

Courage is any man or woman who makes a conscious decision to train for and earn the privilege to wear a military uniform to protect the rights of their fellow countrymen. It is the teenager who embraces his or her sexual identity and shares it with their family not knowing if they will be embraced or rejected. Courage is the police officer that puts their life on the line day after day, after day only to be accused of racial profiling and never hearing the words thank you. The firefighters that enter burning buildings are courageous. The teachers who have laid down their lives to protect their students from a gunman and those who will do the same in the future are unexpected examples of courage. Every kid who took of their training wheels and learned how to ride a bike or threw aside their swimmies, and jumped off a diving board for the first time are also examples of courage.

Couples, gay or straight, who have lasted through decades of adversity, hardships, and shared triumphs and celebrations while remaining fiercely devoted to one another are enduring examples of courage. And, yes, even a celebrity who stands up in front of the world and declares that they are now a transgendered individual is also courageous. If you are incapable of seeing the many faces of courage or refuse to acknowledge some because you don’t understand them, then perhaps you are a true example of what it is like to be a coward that lacks empathy.
Speaking of the transgendered, so many feel that it is okay to target them for ridicule and down right bullying. I will and have admitted that I do not understand the transgendered, but I will not ridicule them.

I agree that a woman who transforms herself into a “man” is still biologically a woman. Caitlyn Jenner, now the most famous transgendered person in the world, is in fact biologically a man. But I am capable of being empathetic to the painful path Jenner has traveled. I can and do respect the courage it took for her to make her transformation so transparently public. She looks like a woman, she talks like a woman, she acts like a woman, in essence she IS a woman and yet there are so many who can’t get past her biological make up. If a transgendered person is only defined by their biological and genetic make up, then adoptive parents should be, too. People who adopt children are biologically not those children’s parents and should not be considered parents, if we are to stick to biology defining who we are. In turn, their so-called children are not genetically theirs either. Why don’t people get on social media and bash them or call them names? There are no genetic or biological connections between adoptive parents and the children they bring into their lives through the unnatural means of adoption. So, why doesn’t anybody have trouble believing that they are a real family, if they have not been created by genetics? If I wanted to get as nasty as those people who like to call the transgendered names, I could say that “adopting” is a euphemism for purchasing children. I’m sure we’d see a flurry of arguments and disparaging remarks against that label. Adoption is, in fact, a wonderful thing. In no way does adoption undermine the relationship that other parents have between their biological children. Society does not label adoptive parents as an aberration of real parenting. Gay parents and transgendered people, however, are held to a different standard and are subject to ridicule. I don’t understand that. Is it about Finally, there is the Gay Agenda. Over and over again, on social media, people talk about the gay agenda and how the LGBTQ community wants special treatment.

The far right express their concern about the rapid acceptance of gay marriage across the country and now the Supreme Court has deemed it the law of the land. How dare they! In reality, there is no gay agenda; there is an American agenda and the passing of gay marriage and laws to protect the LGBTQ community is all a part of it. America has been pushing its agenda all over the world and asking for special treatment since the American and Industrial Revolutions. Have you ever gone to a foreign country and not seen an American chain restaurant, not heard American music, or not seen American movies listed at foreign movie theatres. There are large numbers of foreign leaders and their citizens that can speak English. Why? Because English is the accepted language of world diplomacy. That’s America pushing the American agenda on the world and asking for special treatment. So, why is it such a surprise when American LGBTQ community follows its country’s lead? Why does the right get angry because we are doing what they have taught us to do: be proud of who we are, wear our colors loudly, don’t back down from a fight, let the world see us everywhere, and don’t apologize? It is the American way. It is the gay way. Thank you, America, for modeling for us so well that we emulate ourselves after you. You should applaud us for continuing your work for you.

The human race is continuously reinventing and redefining itself. We have to. We cannot and should not believe that how our ancestors lived and conducted themselves fifty, one hundred, and one thousand years ago could possibly apply to us today. There are only three basic human needs that are constant: food, shelter, and love. Courage evolves because what we find difficult, painful, or challenging has changed. Biology only defines us scientifically. We are no longer confined to the parameters of our biological make up; we are fluid, but tenable. We do not make progress by remaining rigid. We make progress by challenging conventional ideas and beliefs. Imagine if Galileo never questioned the Christian definition of the universe, or the Wright brothers never thought that humans could fly, or Martin Luther King Jr. never had a dream. Where would we all be now?