LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Former Olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner, who came out as transgender this year, called for respect and acceptance of other transgender people after being honored at this year’s ESPY Award ceremony.
The 65-year-old, who as Bruce Jenner took gold at the 1976 Olympics in the decathlon, received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award named after the late United States tennis star and presented to “individuals whose contributions transcend sports”.
Jenner received a standing ovation and gave an emotional acceptance speech at the Los Angeles event, officially known as the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly (ESPY) Award.
“I trained hard, I competed hard and for that people respected me but this transition has been harder on me than anything I could have imagined and that’s the case for so many others besides me,” Jenner said.
“For that reason alone trans people deserve something vital. They deserve your respect.”
The annual awards, presented by the sports cable network ESPN, pay tribute to leading sports performers and performances of the year.
“I know I’m clear in my responsibility in going forward,” Jenner said, thanking her family, which includes reality TV star Kim Kardashian.
“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, accepting people differently.”
Jenner, who featured on the reality TV show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” will star in a documentary chronicling her new life as a woman.
Others honored at the awards include the U.S. women’s soccer team, basketball players Lebron James and Stephen Curry as well as retired NY Yankees player Derek Jeter.
Additional reporting by Reuters Television in Los Angeles; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Tom Heneghan