Why Jenner isn’t woman of year

Published 12:00 pm Monday, December 7, 2015

By Chloe Riley

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 has become a source of sadness.

Lying in bed one morning recently, 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 its “Women of the Year,” I was not just sad, I was angry.

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While I have supported 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 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 Jenner has been an incredible role model and inspiration to many.

What I don’t believe is that 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.

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 Smith was someone who gave her very life for the lives of more than 100 other people that day, Jenner has never made that kind of sacrifice.

While 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. 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.

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, Jenner risked the relationships most precious to her for her own benefit.

I am not discrediting the work 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.

I support the transgender community, I support 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.

Chloe Riley is a journalism student at the University of Mississippi.