This Soldier's Response to Caitlyn Jenner Critics Is Brilliant

July 17th 2015

Kyle Jaeger

Hours after Caitlyn Jenner received the ESPYs' Arthur Ashe Award and gave an emotional speech on Wednesday, a series of memes appeared online criticizing the decision to give the award to Jenner. Those memes suggested that wounded military veterans were more deserving of the award. But Joey Vicente, a 23-year-old behavioral health specialist in the Army, took to Facebook to defend Jenner as a hero worthy of the honor.

In 90 Seconds, Caitlyn Jenner Sums up Many Struggles of the Tr...

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Posted by ATTN: on Thursday, July 16, 2015


"Your definition of what or who a hero can or cannot be is irrelevant," Vicente wrote. "What if I told you that her speech last night saved even one human being from attempting to take their life. I'd call that a victory on any scale."

You don't like that a female who used to identify as male got an award at a ceremony run by ESPN?... You are on the wrong side of history. Like many bigots of the civil rights era, you will one day have to answer for your hate, whether it is to your God, a loved one, or your few hundred Facebook friends that you think give the slightest bit of a shit about what kind of sandwich you ate or what kind of workout you got in today.

BuzzFeed News reports that "[a]lthough Vicente only shared the post with friends, it began to make waves in his social circle due to his fresh take," and now, his powerful words have gone viral.

"Bigotry in any form is unacceptable and I guess I was just fed up with seeing people's offensive remarks about a person they know nothing about," Vicente told BuzzFeed News on Friday. "I joined the service and picked my job because I love helping people. I love positivity and I love my country."

ATTN: and other media organizations have effectively debunked several of the memes circulating on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, but the soldier's response to offensive Jenner criticism perfectly captures why the former Olympian deserves to have her LGBT efforts honored with the Arthur Ashe Award. That is, it may have saved a life—perhaps more.

For a community that continues to struggle with discrimination, physical and sexual violence, and high suicide rates, Vicente's message comes at a critical moment in the history of trans rights in America.