At the 2015 ESPY Awards held at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles on July 15, Caitlyn Jenner made her first major televised appearance since her transition. Jenner was awarded the prestigious Arthur Ashe Courage Award, whose previous winners have included Nelson Mandela, Pat Tilman, and Muhammad Ali.
After receiving a large amount of backlash for honoring Jenner in lieu of other candidates, ESPN released a statement: “The Arthur Ashe Courage Award is meant to honor individuals whose contributions transcend sports through courageous action. Sometimes that courage is demonstrated over the course of a lifetime and sometimes it is demonstrated in a single act that shines a light on an important contemporary issue.”
Jenner gave a heartfelt and tearful acceptance speech thanking her family and the trans advocates who have been contributing to the worldwide dialogue leading to trans acceptance, and received a standing ovation.
“Trans people deserve something vital. They deserve your respect,” she said. “And from that respect comes a more compassionate community, a more empathetic society and a better world for all of us.”