by Linita Masters
On Wednesday, July 15, Caitlyn Jenner skipped the red-carpet frenzy, making her first public appearance as a woman at the ESPY Awards, accepting the illustrious Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
Cheered on by her famous family, the 65-year-old Olympic gold medalist showed she knew how to make an entrance. Jenner, who hired Angelina Jolie’s stylist, Jen Rabe, channeled her inner goddess in a classic flowing white Atelier Versace gown, Beladora emerald earrings and a hairstyle reminiscent of Veronica Lake. “I have to say my heart is POUNDING WITH EXCITEMENT for the world to see what I have seen!!!” tweeted Rabe hours before the broadcast.
Exhibiting a great sense of style and sense of humor, Jenner addressed the women in the audience in regards to negotiating her long train up the stairs to the stage. “Picking out this outfit…OK girls, I get it,” “Fashion police, go easy on me. I’m new at this.”
Yes, Caitlyn Jenner looked stunning, but it was her powerful and moving speech about being trapped in the wrong skin for 65 years and how difficult and lonely it was for her to break free and finally be herself, using the awards as a podium to speak out about transgender rights- “Trans people deserve something vital— they deserve your respect.”
Jenner stated: “I owe a lot to sports. It’s showed me the world,”
“If you want to call me names, make jokes, doubt my intentions, go ahead. Because the reality is, I can take it. 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.”
Jenner continued: “I dealt with my situation on my own, in private, and that turned this journey into an already incredible education.”
“It’s about what happens from here,” Jenner concluded. “It’s not just about one person. It’s about thousands of people. It’s not just about me. It’s about all of us accepting one another.”
The team behind the ESPYs shot down any criticism pre-broadcast. “I think Caitlyn’s decision to publicly come out as a transgender woman and live as Caitlyn Jenner displayed enormous courage and self-acceptance,” ESPY Awards co-executive producer Mandt Schell told Sports Illustrated in May.
“Bruce Jenner could have easily gone off into the sunset as this American hero and never have dealt with this publicly. Doing so took enormous courage. He was one of the greatest athletes of our time. That is what the Arthur Ashe Courage Award is about, somebody from the athletic community who has done something that transcends sport.”
Jenner is in good company with past Arthur Ashe Courage Awards winners: Jim Valvano, Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela, Billie Jean King, women’s college basketball coach Pat Summitt, Michael Sam, the NFL league’s first openly gay player and Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts.
This past April, she gave ABC’s Diane Sawyer, an exclusive 20/20 interview about her journey and transition and then modeled a peach satin corset, and Zac Posen and Donna Karan gowns for the July issue of Vanity Fair. Jenner then set the world record for followers on Twitter, deposing Obama and Robert Downey Jr. She, most recently, has been writing a syndicated weekly column called The Real Me and celebrating gay pride in New York and a new show on E! called I Am Cait scheduled to air July 26.
Caitlyn Jenner-“I was living my life for other people.” I think we are all looking forward to getting to know her now that she is living her life for herself.