Caitlyn Jenner ESPYs Video: Arthur Ashe Courage Award Acceptance Speech — WATCH!
Caitlyn Jenner accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at Wednesday’s ESPYs with a speech about her transition. Watch below.
Jenner, of course, won a gold medal for the decathlon in the 1976 Olympics when she was still known as Bruce Jenner. Now decades later, the former athlete publicly transitioned to a woman after coming out as transgender earlier this year. The ESPYs decided to honor Jenner for showing “bravery” with her transition. The awards show marked her formal event as a female, and her first public speech as Caitlyn.
Jenner, wearing a form-fitting white Versace dress, told the crowd of athletes and celebrities how honored she was. “The last few months have bean whirlwind of so many different experience and emotions. But to tell you the truth, it seems like every time I turn around in life and I’m putting myself in these high-pressure situations.”
She then went on to joke, “But I’ve never felt more pressure than I’ve ever felt in my life than over the last couple of months. Picking out this outfit — okay girls, I get it!” Jenner even said of “Fashion Police” criticism, “Please be kind on me. I’m new at this.”
More seriously, Jenner said, “If there’s one thing I do know, is the power of the spotlight. Sometimes it gets overwhelming. But with attention comes responsibility, as a group, as athletes, how you conduct your lives, what you say and what you do is absorbed by millions of people, especially young people. I know I’m clear with my responsibility going forward.”
Jenner vowed to “reshape the landscape of how trans people are viewed, how trans people are treated, and more broadly, accepting people for who they are. Accepting people’s differences.” She announced, “My plea to you tonight is for you to join me, and make this one of your issues as well.”
“Trans people deserve something vital. They deserve your respect,” said Jenner. She gave shout-outs to Renée Richards, Chaz Bono, Laverne Cox, and Janet Mock, who walked this path before her. “We’ve come a long way, but we have a lot of work to do.”
Jenner became emotional when discussing her kids, crying as she thanked them for supporting her. Lastly, the Olympian paid tribute to her mom, Esther. “You know, it is an honor to have the word courage associated with my life. But on this night another word comes to mind, and it’s fortunate,” Jenner said.
She went on, “If you want to call me names, make jokes, doubt my intentions, go ahead. I can take it. But the reality is for the thousands of kids out there coming to terms with who they are, they shouldn’t have to take it. So for the people out there wondering what this is all about, whether it’s about courage or publicity, it’s about what happens from here. It’s not just about one person. It’s about thousands of people. It’s not just about me, it’s about all of us accepting one another.”
As Gossip Cop reported, Jenner was announced as the 2015 recipient in May. Reactions online were mixed, with some arguing that she was not as deserving as past honorees, such as the late Stuart Scott (2014) and Robin Roberts (2013), or as worthy as Lauren Hill, the college basketball player who died of brain cancer in April. ESPN, however, stood by the decision, which also earned support from this year’s host, Joel McHale.
The presentation to Jenner kicked off with an introduction from U.S. Women’s Soccer player Abby Wambach, with a pre-taped package narrated by Jon Hamm. Jenner was accompanied to the ESPYs by her mother, sister, and her children from all three marriages, including Kendall Jenner, who spoke in the package. Check out the FULL video here.