Caitlyn Jenner accepts her Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the 2015 ESPY Awards to a standing ovation from the crowd.
Jenner uses her speech to promote awareness for the struggles of the trans community and preaches the value of having a more accepting society.
"This transition has been harder on me than anything I could have imagined. That’s the case for so many others besides me," Jenner says. "For that reason alone, trans people deserve something vital. They deserve your respect. From that respect comes a more compassionate community, a more empathetic society and a better world for all of us."
From there Jenner goes on to thank her family, all of whom are in the audience to support her getting this award.
"I’d like to thank my family. The biggest fear I had as coming out was I never wanted to hurt anyone else, most of all my family and my kids. I always wanted my kids to be so proud of their dad ...You have given so much back to me and given me so much support. I am so grateful to have all of you in my life," she says through tears.
Jenner also thanks her mother, who survived a risky surgery to join her child at the award ceremony and cheers Jenner on from the audience.
"My mom, who just over a little over a week ago had to have surgery and didn’t think she was going to make it, but she is here with me tonight to share this night. 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 WWII. But mom I’m realizing now I got all those qualities from you."
As grateful as Jenner is to the ESPY Awards and sports community for embracing her since announcing her transition, she notes that there is still more work to do, and her critics should be aware of the thousands of young people they are putting down when they dissect her in the press.
"It is an honor to have the word courage associated with my life. On this night another word comes to mind: Fortunate. I owe a lot to sports. It showed me the world and gave me an identity. If you want to call me names or question my intentions, go ahead. 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."
Jenner ends her powerful speech with a plea for everyone watching to continue to create a more accepting world, not only for transgender people but for anyone who feels different.
"It’s about what happens from here. It’s not about one person, it’s about thousands of people. It’s not just about me. It’s about all of us accepting one another," she says. "We are all different and that’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing. I want to prove that it’s absolutely possible as long as we do it together. Thank you so much for this platform and this honor."