An emotional Caitlyn Jenner pleaded for
respect for the transgender community as she received ESPN's 2015
Arthur Ashe Courage Award on Wednesday night.
Former professional soccer player Abby
Wambach presented Jenner with the award.
“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,” Jenner said in
her 13-minute speech. “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.”
In Jenner's first major public
appearance since her debut on the cover of Vanity Fair, she
also asked for greater understanding of transgender people.
“If you want to call me names, make
jokes, 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 who they are, they shouldn't have to take it.”
“So for the people out there
wondering what this is all about, whether it's about courage or
controversy or publicity. Well, I'll tell you what it's all about.
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.”
Jenner's new E! Show, I Am Cait,
debuts July 26.