Many awards were handed out at last night’s ESPY Awards, but none more anticipated than the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, which was awarded to Caitlyn Jenner for her coming out and the awareness she has drawn to the transgender community. Her message? Respect.
Presented by U.S. women’s soccer team player Abby Wambach, Jenner was clad in an elegant ivory Atelier Versace gown draped at the waist and gave a moving speech touching on her life and personal struggle with her identity. But in it there was a plea for understanding. “Trans people deserve something vital. They deserve your respect,” she said, emphasizing a glimmer of hope that in the future, women and men like her might be fully accepted.
“From that respect comes a more passionate community, a more empathetic society, a better world for all of us,” she said before giving a shoutout to transgender athletes. “It’s about all of us accepting one another. We’re all different – it’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing.” As expected, many of Jenner’s children were in attendance. Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian showed up, as well as Brody, Brandon, Casey, Burt, Kendall and Kylie Jenner.
Caitlyn did joke about how difficult it was to figure out what to wear for the occasion. “OK girls? I get it. The whole process was exhausting,” she said. But she also discussed the very real issues affecting the transgender community, the high prevalence of suicide and the abuse many trans men and women face simply existing.
Jenner has gained a bit of criticism as many have pointed out the fact that she is coming from a more privileged position than many other transgender women and men. “To me, that’s always the biggest question: am I doing it right?” she said in a recent blog post.
You can watch her entire speech in the video above.