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.