Okay, I admit it, I agreed with Bob Costas. I didn’t think that Caitlyn Jenner deserved the ESPYS Arthur Ashe Courage Award. I thought the recipient should’ve been Mount St. Joseph basketball player, Lauren Hill. To me, Lauren’s story was so compelling and emotional, I thought she deserved to be acknowledged for her courage to play college basketball while struggling with brain cancer. While both women were clearly deserving of the award, after listening to Caitlyn Jenner’s acceptance speech at the ESPYS, I now understand why her courage and gender transition needs to be celebrated.
Caitlyn Jenner brought me to tears. It takes immense courage to stand in front of millions of people, who are judging you, your family, your personal decisions; all while maintaining your composure so you can speak on behalf of an underrepresented group of people. I love that she saw this award as more than an achievement for herself, but as a way to call attention to the atrocities transgender people endure by referencing the murder of transgender teen named Samantha.
In an attempt to learn more about what the transgender community goes through, I came across the story of a 17-year old transgender girl, named Mercedes Williamson. According to AL.com , Williamson was found partially decomposed in a rural Mississippi; allegedly at the hands of someone she knew. The assailant's motive remains unclear. She is the ninth transgender person killed this year. According to a report released last month by the National Coalition of Anit-Violence Programs, hate-motivated crimes against LGBT people dropped 32% in 2014 compared to 2013, however, hate-motivated violence against transgender people rose 13%.
Immediately after her speech, a flood of positive comments were posted, tweeted, retweeted and shared on social media. Unfortunately, there were still people who insisted on posting disparaging remarks about Caitlyn; unfairly judging her life and journey. For those individuals, I hope her call for acceptance eventually sink in to dispel their ignorance about what it means to be transgender...“transgender people deserve something vital…they deserve your respect.”