Caitlyn Jenner, ESPY Awards

Source: Kevin Winter / Getty

The frenzy surrounding the announcement that Caitlyn Jenner would be the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at this year’s ESPYs has been non-stop and tonight, the whirlwind of emotions came to a head.

From people praising ESPN for bestowing the honor upon Caitlyn, to those who felt she wasn’t deserving, to the speculation surrounding which (if any) of her famous family members would be present to see her accept the award, the focus seemed to be everywhere at once.

Tonight, the spotlight was back on Caitlyn as she braved the ESPY Awards stage and gave an inspiring acceptance speech…..with all 10 of her children by her side. Presented with the award by Abby Wambach of the world champion U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, Caitlyn was re-introduced to the viewing audience via a lengthy video detailing her life story before she took to the stage in an all-white, floor length gown to accept her award….with all 10 of her children in the audience.

Read an excerpt from her acceptance speech below.

“Now the last few months have been a whirlwind of so many different experiences and emotions, but to tell you the truth, every time I turn around in life, I’m putting myself in these high pressure-situations.

The real truth is that before a few months ago, I had never met anyone who was trans, like me. As you can see, I dealt with this situation on my own. All across this country, right now, there are young people coming to terms with being transgender. They’re learning that they’re different. They’re getting bullied, they’re getting beaten up, they’re getting murdered and they’re committing suicide.

If there’s one thing that I do know about my life, it is the power of the spotlight. Sometimes it gets overwhelming, but with attention comes responsibility. I know I’m clear with my responsbility in going forward. To tell my story the right way, for me. To keep learning. To do whatever I can to reshape the landscape of how trans issues are viewed, how trans people are treated. And more broadly, to promote a very simple idea: accepting people for who they are.

My plea to you tonight is to join me in making this one of your issues as well. How do we start? We start with education. I was fortunate enough to meet Arthur Ashe and I know how important education was to him. I know the people in this rom have respect for hard work, for training, for going through something difficult to achieve the outcome that you desire. I trained hard. I competed hard and for that, people respected me. But this transition was harder on me than anything I could imagine. And that’s the case for so many others besides me. For that reason alone, transpeople 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.

I’d like to thank my family. The biggest fear I had in coming out is I never wanted to hurt anyone else. Most of all, my family and my kids. I always wanted my kids to be so proud of their dad for what he was able to accomplish in this life. You guys have given so much back to me, you’ve given me so much support. I am so, so grateful to have all of you in my life.”

In case you missed it, you can watch the full speech below.


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