Caitlyn Jenner said on Wednesday that she planned to use the attention that had come with her public transition to being a woman to push for tolerance of transgender people across the world.
In an acceptance speech for the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles, she urged fellow athletes to make her cause theirs as well, for the benefit of young people who face discrimination, bullying and violence because of their identities.
I’m clear with my responsibility in going forward: to tell my story the right way, for me; to keep learning; to do whatever I can to reshape the landscape of how trans issues are viewed, how trans people are treated; and then more broadly, to promote a very simple idea: accepting people for who they are, she said.
Ms. Jenner, 65, was first known to the world as Bruce Jenner, who turned a 1976 Olympic decathlon gold into decades in the public spotlight and appearances on cereal boxes, the cover of Playgirl magazine and reality television. But she said that in recent months, she had felt more pressure than at any point in her life, including during the pinnacle of Olympic competition.
I trained hard, I competed hard, and for that people respected me, she said. 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.
She said on Wednesday that while athletic prowess and fame had helped inoculate her somewhat from abuse, that was not the case for many others who deserved protection.
If you want to call me names, make jokes, doubt my intentions, go ahead, because the reality is, I can take it, she said. But for the thousands of kids out there coming to terms with being true to who they are, they shouldn’t have to take it.
Ms. Jenner’s transition has received intense public interest, from a television special with Diane Sawyer on ABC in April that received nearly 17 million viewers, to the cover of July’s Vanity Fair, which featured an image of her in a corset shot by Annie Leibovitz with the cover line Call Me Caitlyn.
She noted one other burden that came with the process, the weight of being judged on outfits such as the white dress she wore for the ceremony. O.K., girls, I get it, Ms. Jenner said. You got to get the shoes, the hair, the makeup, the whole process, it was exhausting. And next, the fashion police. Please be kind on me, I’m new at this.