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Caitlyn Jenner Delivers Powerful Speech at ESPY Awards

You go, girl! Caitlyn Jenner brought the house down with her acceptance speech for the Arthur Ashe Courage award at this year's ESPYs.

Jenner began and ended her speech with a standing ovation, using her time onstage to address the need for acceptance of the transgender community and the problems they face today.

"Trans people deserve something vital—they deserve your respect, and from that respect comes a more compassionate community, a more empathetic society and a better world for all of us," Jenner said.

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Jenner brought attention to the recent deaths of two transgender people, one murder and one suicide. Mercedes Williamson, a 17-year-old trans teen girl, was found stabbed to death in Mississippi. In early April, Sam Taub, a 15-year-old trans boy, killed himself in Michigan.

"Every time something like this happens, people wonder, 'Could it have been different if spotlighting this issue with more attention could have changed the way things happened?' We'll never know," Jenner said.

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Jenner spoke of the responsibility she feels being in the spotlight herself. She plans to use her public position 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's differences."

She also took the time to personally thank Diane Sawyer, her children and her mother. Jenner began to tear up especially during her addresses to her children, thanking them for all of their love and support.

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"I always wanted my children to be so proud of their dad, for what he was able to accomplish in his life. You guys have given so much back to me. You've given me so much support. I am so, so grateful to have all of you in my life. Thank you," Jenner said.

Her speech was moving and delivered with great poise, but she pulled out all the stops with a powerful conclusion that once again brought the audience to its feet.

"You know, it is an honor to have the word 'courage' associated with my life, but on this night another word comes to mind, and that is 'fortunate.' I owe a lot to sports. It's showed me the world. It's given me an identity. If someone wanted to bully me—well, you know what, I was the MVP of the football team. That just wasn't going to be a problem. And the same goes for tonight. 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. So for the people out there wondering what this is all about, whether it's about courage or controversy or publicity, well, I'll tell you what it's all about: It's about what happens from here. 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. We're all different. That's not a bad thing. That's a good thing. And while it may not easy to get past the things you [don't always] understand, I want to prove that it is absolutely possible if we only do it together," Jenner said.

Watch her speech in its entirety:

Image via Getty

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