Former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner accepted the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at Wednesday’s ESPY’s awards. Jenner took the stage in a full-length white gown and commented on how much work it was to get ready for the event and the “Fashion Police” criticism beyond.
“Please be kind to me. I’m new at this,” she joked.
As soccer star Abby Wambach pointed out, many in the crowd and those watching on television knew Jenner, the athlete. But not until recently, when she came out as transgender, did people truly know the full story.
Jenner said that she believes it is her responsibility to share her story “the right way” in the hopes that it will help people learn to better accept each other’s differences.
“This transition has been harder on me than anything I could imagine. And that’s the case for so many others besides me. For that reason alone, trans people deserve something vital. They deserve your respect. And from that respect comes a more compassionate community, a more empathetic society, and a better world for all of us.”
And she drew attention to the stark reality of suicides within the trans community, especially among young people.
“It is an honor to have the word ‘courage’ associated with my life. But tonight another word comes to mind and that is ‘fortunate.’ I owe a lot to sports. It has shown me the world, it has given me an identity. If someone wanted to bully me, well, you know what? I was the MVP of the football team. That wasn’t going to be a problem. And the same thing goes tonight. If you want to call me names, make jokes, doubt my intentions, go ahead, because the reality is I can take it. But for the thousands of kids out there who are coming to terms with being true to who they are, they shouldn’t have to take it.”