With the explosive unveiling of her Vanity Fair cover, Caitlyn Jenner invited us all along on her personal journey—how very Kris Jenner of her—making her private transition singularly public. Like all journeys, there have been highs and lows, articulate supporters and transphobic imbeciles, Laverne Cox and the terrified white men at Fox News. It feels like just yesterday when all we had to deal with were some misgendering news items, a smattering of gross tweets, and Timbaland (it was, literally, yesterday).
Today, a Change.org petition to revoke Caitlyn Jenner’s Olympic gold medal has been circulating. While some sources believe that the petition is the work of professional 4chan trolls—a theory that's somehow both reassuring and deeply depressing—it currently has close to 3,000 supporters.
Actual human beings on Twitter have also gotten involved, taking time out of their busy schedules of not educating themselves and not dating to argue that a trans woman shouldn’t keep a “man’s” medal. Some of the greatest minds of our generation have applied logical reasoning to the non-problem at hand, resulting in definitive verdicts. In the words of one “@_iSlayHoes”, “Bruce Jenner won medals for the USA not Caitlyn.” Please join me in a round of sarcastic slow clapping.
While the Twitter think tank is blessedly contained (this much raw brain power could change everything!) the Change.org petition seems set on substantive action. The painfully snarky appeal is addressed to the International Olympic Committee, and argues that, “Ms. Jenner (as talented as she is) claims that she has always believed herself to be truly female, and therefore, was in violation of committee rules regarding women competing in men's sports and vice versa.” The petition continues, “It is with a heavy heart”—really? How heavy?—“that we must ask whether or not it is proper that Ms. Jenner should retain her Olympic records in light of this, as we must now either claim that Bruce Jenner and Caitlyn Jenner are two entirely different people (which we know is not true), or that Bruce Jenner was, in fact, a woman participating in a men's event.”
For those of you who don’t speak bullshit, the petition is arguing that Caitlyn Jenner, in light of recent revelations regarding her gender identity, should not have been allowed to compete against men, and that her Olympic victory is therefore invalid. This is, of course, stupid.
The International Olympic Committee has a fairly progressive policy regarding trans athletes; according to the committee, these athletes “can participate consistent with their gender identities” given that they have “undergone sex reassignment surgery, had hormone treatments for at least two years, and received legal recognition of their transitioned sex.” While this policy dictates the participation of trans athletes today, it has very little to do with Caitlyn Jenner. In 1976, Jenner was not taking hormone therapy, and was living as a man. While Jenner has stated that her gender identity has always been female, that in no way made her ineligible for competition—and no amount of (unimpressive) verbal maneuvering can even begin to prove otherwise. The trolls behind #givebackthegold are both rude and dumb, and are actually doing other, slightly cleverer trolls a disservice. #Revoketheirtrollpasses #andtheirwifi.
While the Change.org petition clearly represents a fringe element, these rabid trolls aren’t the only ones questioning Caitlyn’s athletic credentials. On Monday afternoon, ESPN announced that Jenner would receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at next month’s ESPYs for showing “the courage to embrace a truth that had been hidden for years, and to embark on a journey that may not only give comfort to those facing similar circumstances, but can also help to educate people on the challenges that the transgender community faces.” ESPN’s decision to honor Jenner was applauded by Arthur Ashe’s own daughter as well as tennis great Billie Jean King, who told The Daily News, “Arthur would be pleased she is standing up for herself and for so many others.”
Unfortunately, some passionate ESPYs fans (?!) are convinced that Jenner doesn’t deserve the Ashe Award. One popular meme has implied that the award ought to have gone to Army veteran Noah Galloway, who lost an arm and leg in Iraq and continues to compete in Crossfit events, marathons, and Dancing With the Stars. Other sports lovers have used social media to express their disappointment that college basketball player Lauren Hill, who recently succumbed to brain cancer, wasn’t honored instead.
While no one doubts Galloway and Hill’s bravery, it’s clear that this uncommon fervor over the Ashe Awards is related to discomfort over Jenner’s gender identity. A number of tweets have questioned Jenner’s courage and referred to her transition and subsequent accolades as disgusting, even using the hashtag #sickening. #Sickening.
Luckily, Caitlyn Jenner has a Twitter of her own, and isn’t dignifying any trolls or haters with a response. As of Wednesday, Jenner only had one ESPYs question for the Twitterverse: