Caitlyn Jenner accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs on Wednesday. On stage, Caitlyn shared her struggle and advocated for the trans community.
Before her speech, a video package ran that featured clips of Jenner as a young athlete, and Olympic winner, detailing her lifelong struggle with gender dysphoria. Interviews with Jenner’s family, including her mother and sister, spoke to the isolation that comes with keeping secrets from loved ones. Many family members supported Jenner from the audience. U.S. women’s soccer team star Abby Wambach, presented Jenner with her award.
Jenner teared up as she thanked journalist, Diane Sawyer, who helped tell her story on ABC’s 20/20 She became particularly emotional when addressing her family. “I never wanted to hurt anyone else–most of all, my family and my kids,” said a tearful Jenner. “I always wanted my children to be so proud of their dad, for what he was able to accomplish in his life.” She continued, ” You guys have given so much to me. You’ve given me so much support. I am so so grateful to have all of you in my life.”
Despite recovering from surgery, Jenner’s mother, Esther, sat alongside her in the audience. “I always thought I got my courage and determination from my dad, who landed on Omaha beach,” said Jenner. “I think I’m realizing now mom, I got all those qualities from you.”
“If you want to call me names, make jokes, doubt my intentions, go ahead, because the reality is, I can take it,” she said, standing up for young people, struggling with gender identity. “But for the thousands of kids out there coming to terms with who they really are, they shouldn’t have to take it.”
“The people out there wondering what if this all about, whether it’s about courage or controversy or publicity, … it’s not just about one person,” the 1976 Olympic gold medal winner said in her speech. “It’s about all of us accepting one another. We’re all different. That’s not a bad thing; that’s a good thing.”
“While it may not be easy to get past the things you always don’t understand,” said Jenner. “I want to prove that it’s absolutely possible, if we only do it together.”
Watch the full presentation including video package and speech right here.