Caitlyn Jenner, who received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, made an emotional speech at the ESPYs, calling for acceptance of transgender people in America.
“Trans people deserve something vital: They deserve your respect,” Jenner said, as NBC reported. “If you want to call me names, make jokes, doubt my intentions, go ahead, because the reality is, I can take it,” she said. “But for the thousands of kids out there, coming to terms with being true to who they are, they shouldn’t have to take it.”
Below are a few excerpts from her speech. The full text is available from the Washington Post.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
She continued, “If there’s one thing I do know about my life, it 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, what you do is absorbed and observed by millions of people, especially young people. I know I’m clear with my responsibility going forward, to tell my story the right way, for me, to keep learning, to reshape the landscape of how trans issues are viewed, how trans people are treated. And then more broadly to promote a very simple idea: accepting people for who they are. Accepting people’s differences.”
“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 to meet Arthur Ashe a few times, and I know how important education was to him. Learn as much as you can about another person to understand them better,” she said.
“I know the people in this room 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 has been harder on me than anything I could imagine. And that’s the case for so many others besides me. For that reason alone, trans people deserve something vital. They deserve your respect.”
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