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July 20, 2015: Well-Deserved ESPY Award

July 21, 2015

By now, you’ve probably see, or at least heard about Caitlyn Jenner’s ESPY Award speech; but I’ve provided a link just in case. (It’s worth watching again, anyway.)

Since the awards, there have been a lot of comments on social media and on TV that other people were more deserving of the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. First off, what does it matter at this point? She has already received the award. Second, I believe she was an excellent choice. Bruce Jenner was deemed “the greatest athlete in the world” when he won the decathlon on the 1976 Olympics; and years later, Bruce did an even more courageous thing by transitioning.

I’ve heard people bemoan the fact that Jenner is wealthy and can afford the best surgeons; that she’s famous and gets lots of attention. And those facts give her a huge advantage over trans people who aren’t rich and famous. And for that reason, other athletes from the LGBTQ community, who are not well known, should be honored. I hear that. And I believe they should be recognized, if not with the Ashe award, then in another way.

Jenner’s wealth and fame are precisely why I agree it’s appropriate that she received the award. In her speech, she talked about the “power of the spotlight” and the responsibility that it bestows on people like herself. She talked about changing the landscape sot that trans people and the trans community are viewed and treated with more respect. She thanked ESPN for giving her the platform to talk about those things.

In short, she has the visibility and the power to raise the trans conversation that our society has been having to a whole new level. She is using her voice to speak up for all trans people, not just for herself. She is using her visibility and voice to attract more attention to the plight of trans people, who are subjected to bullying, discrimination and violence every day; to educate people on what it means to be transgender. Because the more educated people are, the more open-minded they are. And that leads to acceptance.

Let’s face it: Our society is enamored with celebrity. People listen to celebrities. They tune in when a celebrity endorses a product or a political cause or a charity. So it’s really perfect that Jenner got the award and is using it as a platform for the trans community.

 

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