Earlier this week Caitlyn Jenner accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs.
Caitlyn’s journey has been a private and personal transition played out through a public space and as such, she has come to learn that her documented life is the perfect platform for urging global acceptance of transgender people.
Her reach however extended beyond that of simply acknowledging a need for change, as Jenner appealed for a global shift in thought, relating to acceptance and community – she accepted the role of educator with open arms.
“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’re trying to figure out how to handle that – on top of every other problem that a teenager has. They’re getting bullied, they’re getting beaten up they’re getting murdered and they’re committing suicide.”
Jenner went on to list trans women and men who had lost their lives at the hands of others through the harrowing effects of prejudice and bigotry. A mentality that Caitlyn believed could be overcome through education and acceptance.
She pleaded with her peers to use their public platform and influence to promote equality and understanding.
“As a group, as athletes, what you say and 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 do whatever I can to reshape the landscape of how trans issues are viewed, of how trans people are treated and then more broadly to promote the idea of accepting people for who they are. Accepting peoples differences”.
“My plea to you tonight is to join me in making this one of your issues as well”
Whilst admitting that the courage award was an absolute honour, Caitlyn spoke from the heart when she admitted that her journey has been easier than most.
“It is an honour to have the word courage to be associated with my life, but on this night another word comes to mind – fortunate. I owe a lot to sports… its given me an identity. If someone wanted to bully me, well you know what, I was the MVP of the football team, that just wasn’t going to be a problem. And the same thing goes tonight. If you want to bully me, call me names, doubt my intentions – go ahead, 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.”
Caitlyn Jenner continues to be an incredible force in enacting change around transgender and LGBTQI issues and her courage, power and absolute determination to make things different, will hopefully continue to inspire others to believe in themselves.
Do yourself a favour and watch this incredible speech from start to finish.