The Internet at the Speed of Thought

9/11 Widower Enraged Because They Called This Woman a Hero

at4:08 pm | By

Moira and James

bruce jenner caitlyn jenner 9:11 moira smith

Moira leading a man to safety on September 11th (Source: Twitter @MicheleMcPhee)

2,996 people died in the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. Among them was Moira Smith, the only female NYPD officer to perish. A month after her death, she posthumously received a Woman of the Year award from Glamour for her bravery and sacrifice, and she has been hailed as a hero ever since the time of her death.

Following this year’s Glamour Awards, however, her husband James decided that the honor his wife received as a woman of the year no longer meant anything, strictly because Caitlyn Jenner had now received the same award. I’m not sure that it was his award to return in the first place, but James wrote a scathing letter to the editors of Glamour magazine letting them know about the disgrace they had brought upon the awards by considering Jenner a hero.

The Letter

bruce jenner caitlyn jenner 9:11 letter

Source: Facebook @James Smith

“I was shocked and saddened to learn that Glamour has just named Bruce Jenner ‘Woman of the Year,'” he wrote, “I find it insulting to Moira Smith’s memory, and the memory of other heroic women who have earned this award,” such as Britney Spears and the 14-year-old blogger, mind you.

“Was there no woman in America, or the rest of the world, more deserving than this man?” Smith viciously misgenders Jenner throughout his letter, refusing to acknowledge her status as a woman, or that she has changed her name to Caitlyn.

Smith’s letter is hateful. It takes the raw emotion of the loss of his wife and confuses it with a deeper vitriol, the familiar taste of transphobia that is all too common in our society today. Naturally, James cites doctors, soldiers, policewomen, and firefighters in his ideas of where Glamour may have found a hero more deserving than Caitlyn.

I agree. Doctors, soldiers, and officers are heroes. But these traditional and stereotypical professions do not permit us to understand the greater meaning or the flexibility of the word hero, or how anybody can play that role for somebody else.

Call Me Caitlyn

bruce jenner caitlyn jenner 9:11 2

Source: Twitter @MTVNews

“I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” – Christopher Reeve

Given her status as a celebrity and her place in the pop culture world of the Kardashians, Jenner was bound to meet with resistance to her decision to transition even before she announced it to the public.

It’s easy to disagree with things that are new because they seem frightening and unnatural. Not that trans people or gender queerness is anything new to humans, but to take a celebrity like Jenner, who was a champion across generations, an Olympic hero and sex symbol, is something that rocked non-progressive Americans to their core. It’s easy to disagree with what Caitlyn did or what she stands for today because the struggle of the trans community is still not fully understood by society. But one thing that remains true regardless is that transphobia is a prejudice just like any other, hateful and harmful, and with many victims.

“We were proud to honor his wife […] in 2001, and we stand by our decision to honor Caitlyn Jenner,” a spokeswoman for Glamour said in response to Smith’s angry letter. “Glamour‘s Women of the Year Awards recognize women with a variety of backgrounds and experiences.”

“Caitlyn Jenner has helped shine a light on the problems faced by transgender youth and given voice to a community that is often unheard. Glamour’s Women of the Year Awards recognizes brave, bold women who in their individual ways have all made a significant difference in the world,” they also said in a statement.

Smith’s anger was not a response to Glamour belittling the memory of his wife, but of the magazine’s decision to give a face and voice to the trans community, to acknowledge Jenner as a woman and a hero even though she is not fully biologically female. This is nothing more than prejudice and hate that Smith used a unifying American tragedy to gain sympathy for.

And the worst part is that it worked.