Cancer patients and Caitlyn Jenner: why can’t both be brave?

The following is a letter to the editor in response to an article that specifically names my father as a braver individual than Caitlyn Jenner:

CaitlynJennerESPYS-1024x535Mr. Aceto,

I’m David Caplin’s daughter, and as flattering as it is for you to acknowledge him by name as a man of courage, you are wrong that men like my father are braver than Caitlyn Jenner, and even more wrong to assume that his suffering was worse than anything a transgendered individual might face in his/her lifetime.

There is no shortage of sympathy for cancer patients – it’s a disease that no one wants. It’s a disease that does not choose its victims based on gender alone.

Here are some examples of what transgendered people face, from The Huffington Post:

An 8-year-old boy was beaten to death by his father
A 14-year-old was strangled to death and stuffed under a bed
Two 16-year-olds were shot to death
Three 18-year-olds were stabbed to death, dismembered or shot
Two 18-year-olds were murdered with no details being reported
An 18-year-old suffered two violent attacks by a mob and survived

Among the 102-person figure that comes in from 14 countries worldwide, “36 persons were shot multiple times, 14 stabbed multiple times, 11 were beaten to death, three were burned to death, three dismembered/mutilated, and two were tortured, two were strangled, one was hanged, one had her throat cut and one was stoned to death.”

That a privileged celebrity like Caitlyn Jenner would use her platform to help this extremely marginalized demographic, fully aware of the bigotry she would receive, is pretty damn brave in my book.

Mr. Aceto, there is no single copyrighted definition of “brave.” Bravery comes in all forms, in all kinds of people, in many diverse situations. My father was one of the bravest people I knew, but he is far from the only one. Knowing the kind, compassionate soul he was, I think he’d be honored to share that character trait with the likes of Caitlyn Jenner.


Beth Caplin Stoneburner


10 thoughts on “Cancer patients and Caitlyn Jenner: why can’t both be brave?

  1. Pingback: Cancer patients as heroes | Sarahbeth Caplin | Author, Blogger, and Editor

        • Well, yes and no. Regardless of how you react to your diagnosis, you’ll still show up for treatment if you don’t want to die. You don’t really get a choice. And someone responded to this post on Twitter with a pretty interesting point: if you do die, it’s almost like saying you weren’t brave enough to survive. Obviously that’s not what people mean, but I know Dad hated being put on a pedestal for his illness and mentioned a few times that there was almost more pressure to survive to fulfill others’ hero fantasies. Just something to think about.

          When I think of Dad being brave, I think of how he went out of his way to see the good in people who didn’t act good at all. That’s something I can’t (or, more accurately, won’t) do.


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