Caitlyn Jenner was honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at tonight’s ESPYS in Los Angeles. The sports legend, whose been going through a transgender journey these past few months, was introduced by Abby Wambach of the U.S. women’s national soccer team. In her speech, Jenner took the opportunity to make an emotional plea for “accepting people for who they are.”
As I watched the speech, all I could think was how difficult it must be to not only go through that emotional journey, but to then stand up in front of millions and talk about it. However you feel about it, there’s no doubt that she’s got guts! But what I love most is that I’m sure she will help a lot of people in that same situation, as well as their families and friends.
Jenner, who wore a white, long-sleeve gown for the event, acknowledged her mom (who recently had surgery), her kids and ABC News’ Diane Sawyer in her acceptance speech. She called the past few months a “whirlwind,” noting that she’d never met a transgender person until the past few months. Instead, she dealt with her situation alone and in private.
“That turned this journey into an already incredible education,” Jenner said, adding, “This transition has been harder on me than anything I could imagine … trans people deserve your respect.”
Jenner, a former Olympic superstar, said she knows the “power of the spotlight” and understands “with attention comes responsibility.”
“It’s about all of us accepting one another,” she said.
The most emotional part of her speech involved acknowledging her family and how much they meant to her. Kendall, Kylie and Brody Jenner posed on the red carpet to support their famous dad, and Jenner’s other kids were also at the ceremony: Burt Jenner, Cassandra Marino and Brandon Jenner, as well as daughter-in-law Leah Jenner and step-daughters Kourtney, Kim and Khloe Kardashian, all seen in this photo posted on Twitter by Kourtney:
— Kourtney Kardashian (@kourtneykardash) July 16, 2015
Brody Jenner told ABC News tonight it was “such a courageous thing for her to come out” and said Caitlyn is “extremely happy.” He noted that they’re celebrating with a big family dinner.
Jenner, 66, formerly known as Bruce, revealed in April that she is transgender. In June, Vanity Fair magazine released the first photo of the former Olympian since her physical transformation, as well as her name.
“Bruce has received many accolades over the years for being one of the greatest Olympians of our time but The ESPYS are honored to celebrate Bruce becoming Caitlyn,” said executive producer Maura Mandt in a statement last month.
“She has shown the courage to embrace a truth that had been hidden for years, and to embark on a journey that may not only give comfort to those facing similar circumstances, but can also help to educate people on the challenges that the transgender community faces.”