Thank you, Caitlyn Jenner, for your powerful and compassionate ESPYS acceptance speech asking all Americans to become more accepting of everyone’s differences. You are right — ‘we’re all different’ and ‘that’s a good thing’.
When Catilyn Jenner, 65, took the stage last night, July 15, to accept the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, it was a profound moment. She was the first transgender to win the prestigious award and the most prominent Olympic athlete ever to reveal him or herself as transgender. Bruce Jenner was America’s super hero when he took home the gold as top athlete in the world, winning the decathlon at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montréal, Canada.
But his accomplishment then doesn’t even compare to his most recent heroism, when Bruce revealed in a completely forthcoming interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC that he had actually always been a “she” inside. She was Caitlyn, and thankfully would live as herself — Caitlyn — from then on. It was a momentous occasion for the estimated 700,000 transgender people living in the United States.
And accepting the Arthur Ashe ESPYS award gave Caitlyn another huge platform to spread a very important message. It is time for the bullying and beating up of transgender people to stop. It can no longer be acceptable in any part of our society to do this. It is time for all Americans to understand that transgender people are born this way. They have no control over their gender identity, and they need to be accepted, not mocked and not shunned.
As Caitlyn pointed out in her speech, it is difficult enough for any person to be a teenager, let alone to be a transgender teen. “All across this country, right now, all across the world, at this very moment, there are young people coming to terms with being transgender,” she explained. “They’re learning that they’re different and they are trying to figure out how to handle that, on top of every other problem that a teenager has.”
Sadly, far too many transgenders are met with mockery and even worse brutality, when others, even their families, learn about their true identities. “Just last month, the body of 17-year-old Mercedes Williamson, a transgender young woman of color was found in a field in Mississippi stabbed to death,” Caitlyn pointed out. She also revealed that Sam Taub, a fifteen-year-old transgender young man from Michigan, committed suicide in April.
Caitlyn Jenner’s 2015 ESPYS Speech: ‘We Have A Lot Of Work To Do’
His death haunts Caitlyn, because she wonders if Sam had just lived long enough to hear her interview with Diane Sawyer, revealing her transgender identity, that Sam might still be alive. We should all be haunted. That’s because, for all of our progress over the decades, learning to be accepting of racial, ethnic and sexual identity differences, we still have such a long way to go. No one should feel so unloved and unaccepted because of their “difference” that they turn to suicide.
Caitlyn revealed that her mission in life now will be promoting “a simple idea: accepting people for who they are. Accepting people’s differences.” And that is so important because so many people are afraid of other people who are “different” than they — whether it’s because of their race, their ethnic background or their sexual or gender identity. Hey, Donald Trump is all about exploiting fear of differences right now, as he stokes up fear of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans as part of his presidential campaign.
Caitlyn’s message is the complete opposite of Trump’s. She asks for “respect” for transgenders and other “different” people. “And from that respect comes a more compassionate community, a more empathetic society, and a better world for all of us.” So true, Caitlyn. Thank you for being courageous enough to be yourself publicly. Thank you for taking on the role of advocate for transgender kids who, as you said, shouldn’t have to take the name-calling and jokes.
It’s time for the bullying of transgenders to stop and the acceptance and respect to begin. Do you agree, HollywoodLifers? Let me know.
— Bonnie Fuller