And just like that, Caitlyn Jenner changed the playing field for the trans community once again, giving a speech at the ESPY awards that proved not only will she remain the tipping point for our nation’s interest and empathy towards the trans community, but a cultural powerhouse, driving important trans issues into the public eye where they can no longer be ignored.
And, finally, we can stop talking about how fabulous she looks, because her words were so powerful during her Arthur Ashe Courage Award acceptance speech, they became the only thing deserving of attention. (Although she did slay in a floor length white gown — the cut seems to be her look-de-jour. Sorry! Couldn’t help it.)
“If there’s one thing I do know, it is the power of the spotlight. Sometimes it gets overwhelming,” said Jenner, formerly known as Bruce. “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.”
After complimenting how gorgeous the triumphant U.S. women’s soccer team looked out of their jerseys, Caitlyn quickly moved into the important cultural issues facing the trans community today, lasering in on the importance of influencing the lives of transgender youth who struggle to find acceptance, which served as the keystone for Jenner’s speech.
“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,” Jenner asserted. “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.”
Jenner subsequently thanked the people in here life who have supported her in finding herself, paved the road ahead of her, and most importantly, those who helped lend her a voice and shape her story for the media to deliver in the most honest way possible. ‘Thank you’s” went out to the likes of transgender actress Laverne Cox, writer Janet Mock and the woman who helped to introduce Caitlyn to the world, Diane Sawyer. But most importantly, Jenner thanked her family for their strength and her mother for her influence.
“I always thought that I got my courage and my determination from my dad, who landed on Omaha Beach and fought all the way through World War II,” shared Cait. “But you know, I’m realizing now mom, I think I got all of those qualities from you.”
So now we really know what Cait is all about. She doesn’t plan to sit back and let the cameras paint a pretty story of her daily experience in line with in Keeping Up With the Kardashians, she has an end-game. Caitlyn plans on using the cultural megaphone that she’s been given to make some changes. She plans on using her voice for good.
“Trans people deserve something vital: They deserve your respect. 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.”
Watch the full speech below and share if you think Caitlyn’s message is important.
Still not on the Caitlyn Jenner train? We dare you to watch this speech. “Trans people deserve something vital: They deserve your respect.”