The words “acceptance speech” had a double meaning at The Espys last night. When Caitlyn Jenner accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, she used her speech as a platform to advocate for accepting others.
Previous recipients of the award include LGBT athletes Michael Sam and Billie Jean King, but Jenner is obviously the first who is transgender. Making one of her first televised appearances since coming out in a Diane Sawyer interview last April, Jenner stood before a crowd of celebrities and athletes and candidly spoke about the struggle of her transition. After receiving the award from World Cup-winning U.S. women’s soccer player Abby Wambach, Jenner put her recent challenges in the context of those she once faced as an olympic decathlon gold medalist. Ultimately, though, she took the focus off herself and onto the worldwide transgender community, who stand to benefit from such a prominent, visible advocate.
“If you wanna call me names, make jokes, doubt my intentions, go ahead,“ she said. ”Because the reality is I can take it. 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. So for the people out there wondering what this is all about, whether its about courage or controversy 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. We’re all different. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing.”
Pretty soon, the public at large will have a weekly chance to accept Jenner when her show, I Am Cait, premieres on July 26.
Watch the full speech in the video below.