Caitlyn Jenner had nine of her 10 children, her mother, Esther, and millions of viewers cheering her on as she accepted the 2015 Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYS — so, naturally, the transgender Olympian, 65, felt overwhelming pressure when delivering her speech Wednesday night.
“It wasn’t easy,” Jenner told Robin Roberts on Good Morning America Thursday morning, of her 10-minute speech in which she vowed to “reshape the landscape” of how transgender people are viewed and treated.
“I knew Arthur Ashe and I sat out there in the audience on many an occasion and I thought to myself, Boy, what if someday I could make a difference in the world and do what I’m doing. I wonder if I will ever get that?'” Jenner told Roberts, who received the same honor in 2013. “Tonight was the night.”
Introduced by two-time Olympic gold medalist soccer player Abby Wambach, Jenner was celebrated by ESPN with a package highlighting her athletic and personal achievements.
“I know the people in this room have respect for hard work. For training,” Jenner told the audience, full of sports stars like LeBron James, Russell Wilson, and Derek Jeter. “I trained hard, I competed hard, and for that, people respected me. This transition has been harder on me than anything I could’ve ever imagined… Trans people deserve something vital. They deserve your respect. And from that respect comes a more compassionate community, and a better world for all of us.”
Jenner fought back tears backstage telling Roberts how special it was to have her family in the audience supporting her. “My kids are absolutely wonderful,” said Jenner, whose children Cassandra Marino, Burt, Brandon, Brody, Kendall, and Kylie Jenner joined stepkids Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney Kardashian in the audience, wiping away tears as she spoke. “I am blessed to have just wonderful children.”
Roberts, who was in the audience at the ESPYS, said that the Kardashian-Jenner family came into the theater during the commercial break before Jenner’s award, adding that the family was very “respectful” of the occasion.
“I am just great to be in a position where myself and my family have been so supportive of what is happening,” Jenner added. “You know, my kids are great.”
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