With the Espy Awards set to air tonight, there has been a lot of talk surrounding the news that Caitlyn Jenner will be receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. While the 65-year-old “I Am Cait” star has been slammed on social media as critics believe there are several others deserving of the honor, earlier this week ESPN ran to her defense.
“I think Caitlyn’s decision to publicly come out as a transgender woman and live as Caitlyn Jenner displayed enormous courage and self-acceptance,” producer Maura Mandt told Sports Illustrated. “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,” Mandt continued. “That is what the Arthur Ashe Courage Award is about, somebody from the athletic community who has done something that transcends sport. One of the biggest platforms the Arthur Ashe Foundation has is educational, and I think in this choice we have the opportunity to educate people about this issue and hopefully change and possibly save some lives. I think that is why it was the right choice.”
When the Arthur Ashe announcement was first made last month, Jenner said in a statement, “In the past few months, the overwhelming outpouring of support from all over the world for my journey has been incredible. However, being honored with this award, which is named after one of my heroes, is truly special. For the first time this July, I will be able to stand as my true self in front of my peers.”
And while some fans are still baffled by Jenner’s transition, she certainly isn’t the first celebrity to make headlines for making such a drastic change. For a list of celebrity women and public figures you won’t believe were born men, hit the flip.