Here's Why These Two Anti-Caitlyn Jenner Memes are Absurd

July 17th 2015

At least two anti-Caitlyn Jenner memes have been circulating around the internet recently, and they represent an unfortunate perspective in American culture.

The two memes, which were shared on Facebook and Twitter hours after Jenner delivered her powerful speech at the ESPYs, lament the fact that she received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award over a wounded military veteran.

Of course veterans, deserve to be honored—especially those wounded in combat—but the celebration of honorable and courageous individuals in this country is not a zero-sum game.

When you look closely at these memes (or even no-so-closely, as it happens) and read between the lines, there's an anti-trans sentiment that threads them together. In an attempt to trivialize the trans community's serious concerns, many of which Jenner outlined in her speech, they argue that one person's courageous feat should take precedent over another's.

Trans people in the U.S. face serious challenges. They are victims of violence more than the general population. They face discrimination at school, at work, or when they are looking for an apartment. They also live in a society where many people don't understand the basic facts of what it means to be transgender.

For these and other reasons, rates of suicide in the trans community are high. A Williams Institute survey found that 78 percent of transgender respondents who had "endured physical or sexual violence in school had attempted suicide."

Debunking the memes

And to make matters worse, these memes are, besides offensive, also patently untrue.

Here's one that says Caityln Jenner won the Arthur Ashe Award over an Army veteran named Noah Gallagher, who lost an arm and a leg in Iraq:

Caitlyn Jenner Meme 1businessinsider.com

But as ESPN told Business Insider on Wednesday morning, there are no "runners-up" for the Arthur Ashe Award. What's more, there are reports that suggest the selection process was actually initiated by Jenner's team, not ESPN.

So how did that meme get started? Snopes says it began with a radio talk show host in Boston named Gerry Callahan, who sent this tweet on June 3, just after news broke that Jenner would be receiving the award:

The other meme, which was shared on Instagram by "Lone Survivor" director Peter Berg, features an image of U.S. Army veteran Gregory D. Gadson, a double amputee, and has a similarly transphobic message to promote: "One Man traded 2 legs for the freedom of the other to trade 2 balls for 2 boobs," again arguing that the former is inherently more deserving of the Arthur Ashe Award.

Caitlyn Jenner Meme 2co.uk

The Daily Beast reports that Gadson served 15 years in the Army and lost his legs in Iraq. After a decorated career in the military, he's since become a motivational speaker and an actor. Interestingly, he had a "sizeable supporting role as a retired U.S. Army colonel in Berg's blockbuster film 'Battleship,'" the Beast reports.

It's not clear why Gadson was chosen for this meme and what exactly his connection would be to the 2015 ESPYs. While Gadson did serve as co-captain of the Army football team, that was in the late 1980s.

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