The husband of 9/11 hero cop Moira Smith returned his former wife’s posthumous “Woman of the Year” award directly to Glamour Magazine this week, according to CNN. The reason? Caitlyn Jenner. Moira received her “Woman of the Year” award postthumosly back in 2001, shortly after she lost her life at the age of 38. She was killed in the line of duty, as a police officer, while saving others during in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Last week, Caitlyn Jenner was one of several prominent women to receive the same “Woman of the Year” honor.
James Smith, widower of 9/11 hero Moira Smith, was appalled upon hearing the news that Jenner would among the list of honorees that includes his late wife. He responded by packing up Moira’s “Woman of the Year” award trophy and sending it via FedEx directly back to its source. He also wrote an open letter to Glamour, reports The Wrap. In the letter, he detailed his reasons for returning the “Woman of the Year” award.
Not surprisingly, Smith has faced considerable backlash for his very public call-out of Glamour and their “Woman of the Year” honoree. He’s been called homophobic, transphobic, and even “the world’s worst husband” by The Cut. His crime? Well, he did persist in calling Caitlyn Jenner, “Bruce.” He called Caitlyn Jenner, “a man.” He even said it was “insulting” to Moira Smith’s memory to be lumped in with Jenner in the “Woman of the Year” award category. He did come off as very insulting to both the magazine and Jenner. But, did he really return the award because it was given to a transgender woman?
While it might seem so at first glance, after some research, and it seems that despite Smith’s harsh words about Jenner, his outrage doesn’t seem to stem from the fact that she’s transgender at all.
First and foremost, we have to consider that Smith supported previous “Woman of the Year” award recipient Laverne Cox in 2014, who is also transgender. Smith fully recognizes the struggles of the LGBT community. Being a police officer himself, he’s gone on record lamenting the struggles the LGBT community endures, particularly LGBT youth.
“My precinct covered a shelter for transgendered youth. On several occasions I responded there to take reports or give aid to suicidal youths. I listened to their stories of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Young people thrown out of their homes or fleeing from unlivable conditions.”
So, Smith supported Glamour honoring Cox a year ago. What precisely is it about Caitlyn Jenner that caused Smith to not just return his deceased wife’s award but to publicly call out the magazine, and it’s editor, this year?
Smith has stated that it has nothing to do with Jenner being transgender and everything to do with her being privileged, ensconced in the “Kardashian lifestyle.”
“When Mr. Jenner said the hardest part about being a woman was figuring out what to wear (in a recent interview), he proved to me that he is not truly a woman. I believe this comment and others he has made trivializes the transgender experience as I have witnessed it.”
One could definitely understand how a man whose wife had to lose her life in order to receive a “Woman of the Year” award would be a little offended by the award being given to a woman whose biggest daily struggle is deciding which designer outfit to take out of the closet.
For Glamour’s part, they’ve stood firm behind their decision to honor Caitlyn Jenner with their “Woman of the Year” award, which she shared with several other recipients. In addition to Jenner, Victoria Beckham, Misty Copeland, Elizabeth Holmes, Cecile Richards, Reese Witherspoon, the Women of Charleston, and the U.S. women’s national soccer team were all honored.
Many of those critical of Smith’s decision to return his deceased wife’s “Woman of the Year” award have argued that despite Catilyn Jenners’s monetary privilege, she is dealing with the same issues at the age of 66 that every other transgender person has to suffer through, and she’s doing it in the public eye. She’s also, according to many LGBT supporters, become a critical and prominent voice for the transgender community.
— Karl Lehman (@KarlLehman) November 16, 2015
This isn’t the first time Caitlyn Jenner has come under fire since coming out as transgender. In an appearance on the Ellen Show earlier this year, she told Ellen that she’s not a supporter of gay marriage, which became legal in every U.S. state in June following a landmark Supreme Court decision. In defending her stance, Jenner cited her age.
While James Smith may have chosen to return his deceased wife’s “Woman of the Year” award to the publication that issued it, one thing hasn’t changed. Moira Smith died a hero. She was deserving of her “Woman of the Year” award when she became the only female police officer to lose her life in active duty on 9/11. Regardless of Caitlyn Jenner, Moira Smith is still deserving of her “Woman of the Year” honor today.
[Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]