The reveal of Caitlyn Jenner, once known as Bruce Jenner, on the cover of Vanity Fair has been a very big deal. It's been a huge moment in our national consciousness when it comes to trans issues, and for the first time since Christine Jorgensen kickstarted this conversation decades ago, millions of Middle Americans are giving the issue a serious thought. Unsurprisingly, some of those people aren't happy - whether it be because they're hateful or, more ordinarily, confused and unsure what to make of the issue.
In the wake of Caitlyn Jenner's coming out, a lot of memes have popped up on the internet, especially in light of ESPN opting to give Jenner the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. This really pissed off a lot of conservatives, who spread nonsense like this:
That meme is simply made up, but it was only one of many, most of which are predicated on the idea that true courage - real masculine courage - is defined only by military service. This ignores why the Arthur Ashe Courage Award is named for Ashe (he had AIDS and worked tirelessly as an advocate for people with AIDS, which obviously means he worked with the LGBT community), but you get the point.
Enter Terry Coffey. He posts the following Facebook update which gets a HUGE response - it has been shared over 700,000 times by now.
You may be looking at that picture and thinking something is... off. You're right. It's not a photo of two brave soldiers, battling to the end. It's a picture of two dolls. It's an image familiar to anyone who has seen the documentary Marwencol, about artist Mark Hogancamp. After a brutal attack left Hogancamp in a coma and then with brain damage and very little memory, he started creating a 1/6th scale WWII Belgian town in his backyard. He populated it with figures that represented himself, his family, his loved ones and even the five men who beat him so terribly, kicking him repeatedly in his head. He called it Marwencol, a portmanteau made up of the names Mark, Wendy and Colleen (he is Mark, obviously. Wendy and Colleen were women he had the hots for). The documentary Marwencol examines how Hogancamp uses the dolls for therapy both physical and emotional, and how the discovery of his little world by the art community impacted him.
So Coffey used a phony image of phony bravery. Except he didn't - Marwencol truly represents Hogancamp's brave refusal to give in to his trauma. And there's another layer to this, one that Coffey discovered when someone alerted him to the fact that his meme was actually a picture of two dolls:
Hogancamp was beaten almost to death because he was a cross-dresser.
Remember when I said that some people reacted badly to Caitlyn Jenner because they're bad? Terry Coffey isn't one of those. He was just confused. And when he found out about Marwencol he posted this follow-up: