In her first major appearance since coming out as transgender, Caitlyn Jenner moved everyone to tears last night at the ESPY awards during her emotional speech when she spoke to a room of the world’s biggest athletes and celebrities about what trans people need.
“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,” she told the crowd.
Jenner accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award from U.S. soccer star Abby Wambach, then began her 10-minute speech discussing her personal journey.
“The last few months have been a whirlwind of so many different experiences and emotions. But to tell you the truth, it seems like every time I turn around in life, I’m putting myself in these high-pressured situations,” she said.
“Competing in the Games, raising a family. But I’ve never felt more pressured than I ever have in my life, than the last couple of months. Picking out this outfit — O.K., girls, I get it! [Laughter.] You got to get the shoes, the hair the makeup, the while process. It was exhausting. And next, the fashion police — please be kind on me, I’m new at this.”
After talking about her experience she discussed the reality of being trans.
“The real truth is, before a few months ago I had never met anybody else who was trans, who was like me. I had never met a trans person, never. Now, as you just saw, I dealt with my situation on my own in private and that turned this journey into an already incredible education.
“It’s been eye-opening, inspiring, but also frightening. All across this country, right now, all across the world, at this very moment, there are young people coming to terms with being transgender. They’re learning that they’re different and they are trying to figure out how to handle that, on top of every other problem that a teenager has.
“They’re getting bullied, they’re getting beaten up, they’re getting murdered and they’re committing suicide. The numbers that you just heard before are staggering, but they are the reality of what it is like to be trans today.”
After making everyone get out the Kleenex, Jenner thanked her mother and her family for their love and support, and went on to advocate for thousands of other trans people who may not have the same support system she does.
“You know, 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.”